Chris Labonté: Favourite Bookstores
I got my start in the book racket some twenty years ago as a bookseller at Bollum’s Books, and then as a bookstore manager with the legendary Duthie Books in Vancouver. Independent bookshops are where I cut my teeth as a publishing professional, and to this day I view those years as some of the most influential in my development as a publisher. A great bookshop, in my opinion, is one where I can immerse myself in every aspect of the store, where I can sense the love and care that has gone into the selection of titles, the merchandising, and the service. Bookselling of this sort is increasingly rare, especially in the age of big box chains and online retail, but I am delighted to say that it is far from dead. Here are just a few of my favourite bookstores:
Vancouver Special – Exquisite selection of art, architecture and design titles, and incredible service.
Munro’s Books – Perhaps the last of the legendary bookshops in Canada, and likely my all-time favourite.
Mermaid Tales – Remarkably broad but refined selection in a cozy store at the edge of the world.
Ben McNally Books – Ben is probably my favourite bookseller of all time, a legend with a ponytail, the colourful language of a longshoreman, and the tastes of an angel.
Appetite for Books – Beautifully curated selection of cookbooks, and arguably the finest such specialty bookstore in the country.
Powell’s – The dominant bookseller in the Rose City, and for good reason: they are brilliant in every way.
Hennessy + Ingalls – Incredible selection of books on art, architecture and design.
Chris shapes the Figure 1 publishing program, collaborating with our authors and partners to produce books of the highest quality. He has worked in the book industry for nearly twenty years, in roles including writer, bookseller, acquiring editor, and publisher. He spends far too much time following the Whitecaps, weeding his vegetable garden, and figuring out which of his kids has his iPad.