As many of you might have already heard, the Chapters bookstore at the corner of Robson and Howe in downtown Vancouver is shutting its doors as of June 30 of this year. Citing a probably monstrous rent increase as a reason for the closure, the company indicates that they *might* be looking at opening up another store in the Robson shopping district.
I can’t say I’m entirely surprised at the closure. It was a massive store (with, one imagines, a stratospheric rent in the hundreds of thousands per month), it was REALLY hard to find anything unless they had stacks of whatever it was you were looking for, and (although this is true of pretty much every Chapters/Indigo) the merchandise was slated less and less toward books and more toward expensive gift items.
As a former employee of the Broadway/Granville location (and the current spouse of a former employee of the Robson/Howe location), I think I know what I’m talking about when I say that, by the end of my tenure there, it wasn’t a great place to work and employees weren’t being treated particularly well. That being said, I sincerely hope that all store employees can find other work and emerge with their love of books intact.
However, this does leave me wondering if the age of department-style bookstores is gradually waning. With many excellent independent bookstores around Vancouver (Paper Hound, Pulp Fiction, Kidsbooks) open and, more importantly, thriving, the point is certainly raised that there are many models for a successful bookstore.
So, is the bookstore dead? No, but perhaps it certainly IS undergoing a transitional period.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some reading to do.