End of the Line for Duthie Books
According to an article in today's Vancouver Sun, Duthie Books will close its doors for good, 52 years on. Duthies was once a mighty chain of excellent stores all across the Vancouver area, a pillar of the local literary scene.
The chain itself imploded in the late 1990s, after a major flourish in the face of the new Chapters outlets in Vancouver: the opening of a short-lived Duthies “superstore” at Granville and Georgia. The company nearly fell then, but managed to save its newest store in Kits on 4th Ave.
My earliest connection with the book biz was back in those days, when Celia Duthie launched an ambitious project for an online bookstore, the only Duthies store in which you were allowed to drink coffee, she quipped, in response to the café-equipped superstores appearing at the time. But the “Literascape” project died before coming to fruition, in the churn of the chain's collapse.
Duthies alumni—and there were a lot of them—today are scattered throughout Canada's many existing book and bookselling firms today. I keep running into them, and they are some of the smartest people around in the book biz. Today, I raise my glass to those folks.
This is a major milestone in Vancouver's literary landscape, and certainly the end of an era.
Litera scripta manet — The written word remains.
With McNally? Robinson already doing under, this year is off to a bit of a depressing start.
... --Tue, 19 Jan 2010 11:44:38 -0800 reply
McNally?'s closures--all but one store in Winnipeg-- was the first thing I thought of when reading this. McNally? and Duthie's are the sort of stores that feel more like libraries and and book clubs. They were created by people who are passionate about literature and building as well as serving literary communities. They value and support local writers, and make them accessible through events and sponsorship. They know writers and their work, and are genuinely invested in connecting readers/writers to each other. This is a huge loss for Vancouver and its community of readers and writers.
... --Tue, 19 Jan 2010 11:46:55 -0800 reply
The above was me. I didn't realize I'd been logged out.
... --Tue, 19 Jan 2010 11:47:06 -0800 reply
I just got to Vancouver a couple of weeks ago, had never of Duthies before but still feel sad about this. Real bookstores desappearing, especially when they are as important to local book-loving communities as this one was, leave a void that no digital/low-price/social media/whatever strategy can make up for.
... --travismclean, Wed, 20 Jan 2010 18:56:06 -0800 reply
Interesting to read the comment section below the Vancouver Sun article. It seems a lot of people had negative customer service experiences at Duthie Books.
... --jmax, Wed, 20 Jan 2010 21:32:08 -0800 reply
Hard to tell if that's commentary on Duthies or the commentariat at the Vancouver Sun, though.