Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My Tribute to the World's Biggest Bookstore

I worked at the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto from February 2004 until it closed in April 2014. While the job had its ups and downs, I loved working there.  The people were great and the selection was incredible.  For the past 7 years I was allowed to do pretty much anything I wanted with the science fiction and fantasy section, which means I was constantly making themed endcaps (many of which ended up here as themed reading lists), I started a paper 'Sci-Fi Fan Letter' handout for customers with upcoming SFF releases and reviews of books and videos by staff.  And, when customers started complaining about the price of books, I started interviewing authors and displaying the interviews on endcaps so readers would remember that behind the words in all those books were real live people, who'd worked hard to write them.

I worked with a lot of people who'd been at the store for 20-25 years, people who remembered when Coles owned the store, then Chapters, and finally Indigo.  For them, the glory days were long ago, hence the title of my video, The Decline and Fall of the World's Biggest Bookstore.

This, then, is my tribute to the WBB.  The video begins a year ago - when we first got inklings that the store's lease might not be renewed, showing normal levels of stock and our variety of sections - and continuing through to the store's close and beyond.  Note, some sections got better coverage than others as I hadn't planned on making this video when I did the 'before' shots.  Also below is a slide show of some of the SFF events and endcaps the store hosted, for those not lucky enough to visit the store and see them in person.

Oh, and my apologies for the last few photos in the video which were, unfortunately, overexposed.

RIP WBB, you will be missed.

The Decline and Fall of the World's Biggest Bookstore from Jessica Strider on Vimeo.
The song playing is "The Ghosts of Bate Island", Written & Performed by: Derek R. Audette.

Click the slideshow for a larger view of the photos.


Karin said...

wow! that was a huge huge store!

Jessica Strider said...

It was a huge store. And I was allowed to request books for us to carry so that our selection would be the best. I took advantage of that and brought in a bunch of history books and science fiction & fantasy.

Carl V. Anderson said...

It is heartbreaking seeing shelves empty that way as a bookstore closes. I wrote about this when Borders closed. I know people have their opinions about chain bookstores, but nobody really wins when a brick and mortar store closes. I went in there several times to buy books as it closed (which I also did while it was open) and hated to see the shelves get more and more empty.

I am truly sorry for your loss. I worked in a bookstore in my early 20's and it was the best job I ever had.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for posting this. I must have spent hours wandering the science fiction department looking for books. It was a sad day when WBB closed, I doubt we will ever see its like again.

tlwalcher said...

This was always one of my favorite stops when I visited Toronto. I would spend a couple of hours looking for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mysteries.