Book stores in Toronto may seem few and far between, but what they lack in number, they make up for in diversity. In the age of Kobo and Kindle, these stores are sticking it out, from the longtime literary bastions selling dog-eared classics to newer, more specialized shops.
Here are some notable book stores in Toronto by neighbourhood.
It’s moved from its classic lime green store to a new hub just south of Bathurst station, but A Different Booklist has been an institution for decades, and is still the best spot for literature from across the African diaspora and the Caribbean.
If you’re looking for some cool reads for a kid, tween, or teen in your life, Moonbeam Books on Jane Street has long been the independent go-to for cognitive-building literature.
You’ll find mystery books galore at The Sleuth of Baker Street. Aside from all the murder novels you could want, the store is also a spot for book launches from authors of the gnetre.
The independent book store Re:Reading has an extensive selection, running the gamut of used books from teen novels to true crime. They’ve also got some discounted deals that can be too good to pass up.
The whimsical store Monkey’s Paw focuses on all things weird and wonky, with a stock that centres mostly on uncommon books, antique pamphlets, and the like. The main attraction is the Biblio-Mat: a vending machine for old books.
Glad Day Bookshop is the oldest queer book store in the city—maybe even in the world. Parts community gathering space, bar, coffee shop, and queer bookworm haven, you’ll find tons of LGBTQ+ titles here.
You might recognize Acadia Bookstore’s colourful exterior as making a cameo in the hit show Umbrella Academy, or maybe not. Either way, this store has been around for decades, and its stock feels as extensive, with shelves and crates packed full with old books.
The homegrown chain Book City has several locations across the city, but this shop with the retro-looking sign is a classic, with a good selection and the option to order whatever you’re looking for.
You’ll find an impressive range of reads at Circus Books, located just steps from Donlands subway station. There are always interesting records available too, if you’re siumultaenously a bibliophile and a vinylphile.
Sitting in the Atrium of the TD Building on Front, Penguin Shop stocks books and merch from the iconic publishing company, Penguin Random House. Peruse the recommended reads and author picks from this cute store.
A Novel Spot is a hidden gem in the Humbertown Shopping Centre. They don’t have a massive selection, but a curated selection should be enough to tide you over during your visit. Plus they hold a book club once a month.
Bay Street may not be the first destination that comes to mind when looking for anything bookish, but Ben McNally Books has been holding it down there since 2007 with a stock of first-run hardcovers.
With a name like Bakka Phoenix, you’d be correct in guessing that this is a science fiction and fantasy bookstore. It’s the oldest of its kind in Canada, actually, and you’d be hard-pressed to deny the passion that goes into the collection here.
Need a book on how to construct a boat, or how to tie a good sea knot? Nautical Mind Bookstore is the only shop in the city specializing in marine-focused reads, and they have charts, too.
Another spot for both used volumes and vinyls, Pandemonium is known for its art and music sections, with reasonable prices and a reputation for good service from the owner.
House of Anansi Press, the publishing house that brought us the Canadian classic The Breadwinner, is headquartered on Sterling Road, where you can drop by anytime to peruse through works from their Canadian writers.
There are few places more special than Knife Fork Book. Poetry lovers should not miss the opportunity to check out this tiny gem of a poet-driven space, where you’re guaranteed to happen on some magical chapbooks and readings alike.
Antique items are treated with the utmost respect at D&E Lake, so approach accordingly. It’s a little intense in here, but expect the old books here to transport you to another world.
The former Mount Pleasant staple Doug Miller Books moved to Bloor Street back in 2009, and has become an important part of the area ever since. Prices are famously low here, regardless of whether the books are old or new.
Everyone loves a nostalgic, dusty book store, but Queen Books manages to stay neat and tidy without losing its homey charm. It’s almost too tempting to periodically drop by this shop, which has equal parts adult and children’s books.
Balfour Books is not big, but it’s a serious treasure trove that’s easy to spend hours in. Prices are affordable, compared to regular retail costs, and every section here seems well-rounded.
The longtime kids’ bookstore Mabel’s Fables is the kind of place you want to take a budding bookworm. Packed with books and toys, there’s even a reading room on the second floor.
If you’ve got an interest in Toronto architecture, design, and art, head to Swipe Books on the first floor of the historic 401 Richmond building. It’s a neat spot for one-of-a-kind reads you won’t find elsewhere.
Another Story is an independent favourite, especially in the family-centric area that is Roncy. The stock here is a great mix of genres including fiction and social theory, with an emphasis on kids’ school books too.
Situated on Kingston Road is the quaint gem Cliffside Village Books, selling used books for as low as $1, sometimes. You’ll never be left wanting with selection, just beware of the not-so-great parking outside.
It doesn’t appear that Ayerego Books will be around for much longer, but while it is, make sure to check out its collection of rare, used, and out-of-print books. Prices may seem a bit high, but depending on the rarity of the book, you might find it worth it.
It’s called Great Escape Books for a reason: head into this packed store and you’ll definitely feel like you’ve entered into a cluttered, book-filled paradise. Small and cozy, you’ll find old and used reads here.
It now has a shiny, newer location in the Junction, but the original Type on Queen Street is a go-to. As with all their other locations, the shop has a good way of fitting in to the surrounding neighbourhood (don’t forget they have an art gallery downstairs, too).
ABC Book Store offers a range of genre, prices, and conditions. Regardless, you’re bound to buy something at a way lower cost than regularly-advertised at big box stores, especially with their Reduced Reads section in front of the store.