Donate to Help Save Toronto’s This Ain’t the Rosedale Library

Charlie Huisken of This Saint the Rosedale Library. Photo by John Elmslie.

The call has gone out that another friend of books, writers, creativity & independent presses needs our help.

This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, legendary Toronto bookstore and nucleus for the writing community in that city is in danger of closing its doors and adding to the recent litany of closures of great Canadian bookstores.

The community of friends, book lovers and patrons of the store have rallied in support and the owners, Charlie and Jesse Huisken, have worked hard to put themselves in a position to receive donations to keep the doors open while a workable solution is developed to ensure that the store is viable going forward.

I would like to submit to my friends out here in BC and to everyone east and north – and even outside of Canada – that this is not a regional thing. This is not something that we can leave to the community in Toronto and environs.

It is no secret that with the recent closures of Duthie Books and Sophia Books here in Vancouver that there was much gnashing of teeth over the unjust fate of independent bookstores in the modern age.

In those cases there was no second chance, no opportunity for the community to really come together and to put some money behind their words to save a store from oblivion.

We have that chance with This Ain’t.

Please donate what you can to the paypal account set up for the store so that next time you’re in Toronto you can walk through the door of This Ain’t the Rosedale Library and tell Charlie & Jesse how amazing their store is and how happy you were to donate in this crucial moment to keep the store open.

I guarantee that you’ll have made a friend for life.

Here’s how the situation is described on This Ain’t’s website:

Our situation, which could be told as a long story about the plight of bookstores in Toronto and in many North American cities, is really quite a simple one. At our new location in Kensington Market we found a space with lower rent and overheads which thus represented an enticing solution to the difficulty of inflated rents facing many stores of our kind. For a year we worked in this space happily, until the recession hit with full force and we began to fall behind with our rent. Our response to this situation was similar to that of any small retail business. We bought shrewdly, held regular events, did book tables for small press launches, conferences and author appearances, did not invest in advertising, fixtures, signage or renovations, kept only minimal staff (the store has one part-time staff person), and most importantly worked full-time or more with long store hours, while drawing the absolute minimum for our own rent and expenses. In this way we were able, albeit very gradually, to pay our back-rent, and maintain an amicable relationship with out landlord. While the space presented a number of challenges, including our basement flooding whenever there was heavy rain, and though we heard many stories of rent reductions in our own neighborhood we were not offered this option, but continued none-the-less to enjoy working at the store and feel inspired by our customers’ enthusiasm for the books that we were selling. Quite suddenly this changed. Our landlord became impatient with the rate at which we were able to pay her and made demands for large repayments, without providing a precise accounting of what was owing. In light of our workload and the proliferation of other causes in this city, a fundraiser remained only an idea. Instead we responded to these unrealistic demands with an informal proposal which would not have been profitable to us, but to our landlord. We received only further demands which we attempted to meet within our resources until the locks were changed on Friday June 19th. We are once again offering our landlord a choice which would be beneficial to her and allow us to re-open our doors, and are hoping that the outpouring of encouragement from the public might influence our situation. Along with this we are seeking help with organizing a fundraiser, and we are accepting PayPal donations. As we were living day-to-day, as many small business owners do for years after opening or relocating, our own livelihood has been erased, and our present situation is very uncertain. None-the-less we have seen that many people value what we do and are eager to help us, and thus remain hopeful that a resolution is around the corner.

Sean Cranbury is the Executive Editor of Books on the Radio. He's also Founder and Creative Director of the Real Vancouver Writers' Series. Sean is General Manager at the legendary Storm Crow Tavern and consults with literary arts organizations on digital communications strategies.


  • Reply June 23, 2010

    Chris Eng

    It’s getting to the point where I can only attribute the callousness and/or outright hostility toward bookstores to widespread landlord illiteracy. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

    • Reply June 23, 2010

      Sean Cranbury

      Thanks, Chris. It’s a brutal situation but at least with This Ain’t there’s a chance that people can save the store.

      With Duthies and Sophia there wasn’t that option.

      • Reply June 23, 2010

        Chris Eng

        Yeah, I’ll toss down a few bucks in the next few days. I mean, I can’t give much, considering I just lost MY bookstore job, but maybe it’ll help the same thing from happening all over again.

  • Reply June 23, 2010

    Leslie Shimotakahara

    I am devastated to hear of this. I live just around the corner from the bookstore and was there just a week ago buying books. Especially in this age of e-books, I find there is something very pleasurable and satisfying about being in an actual bookstore and flipping through books as physical objects. I can’t imagine the Kensington Market neighbourhood without the store.

    • Reply June 23, 2010

      Sean Cranbury

      Thanks for the comment, Leslie.

      Please pass along the link to your friends and encourage them to help out.

  • […] first thought when I read on BookMadam & Associates and Books on the Radio about the potential demise of this publishing institution was about those visits we used to take […]

Leave a Reply