Support your local bookstores in Victoria, BC, and beyond! Ebooks are fun but bookstores serve as crucial cultural and knowledge hubs. In addition, with the rise of online booksellers, local bookstores are also rare and wonderful ‘real world’ places full of opportunity for discovery and delight. Below is a list of Victoria and area bookstores. Be sure to pay them a visit, enjoy the ambiance, and buy a few books. Also listed are a few other noteworthy book places in Vancouver and elsewhere.
“Printed books are magical,
and real bookshops keep that magic alive.”
–– Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book
“We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too.” –– unknown
Too many books? Winston has some advice:
“At any rate handle them…. Peer into them. Let them fall open where they will. … If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.” –– Winston Churchill
Bookstores (Victoria BC & Area)
Shiny New Books
- Bolen Books is one of the biggest indie bookstores in Canada.
- Munro’s Books is rated one of the best bookstores in world.
- Russell Books has both new and used books with 2 downtown stores.
- Chapters Indigo Canada has 3 floors of books and gifts downtown.
- Tanner’s Books in Sidney is a large store with new books, magazines, maps, calendars and a large children’s section.
- Ivy’s Books is nestled behind the tweed curtain in Oak Bay.
- Legends Comics & Books is downtown near City Hall.
- Crown Publications carries Province of BC publications.
- Royal BC Museum carries a large number of BC books in their gift shop.
Lovely Used Books
- Chronicles of Crime specializes in mystery, noir, and vintage books.
- Sorensen’s Books shares space with CoC (above) and has a large selection of history, art, ephemera, and rare books.
- Bastion Books (taken over from Renaissance Books) has art, history, modern first editions, contemporary and vintage books.
- The Haunted Bookshop is the oldest bookstore on Vancouver Island and gets visitors from all over the world.
- Camas Books has a wide variety of books on social movements, environment, social justice, and more.
- Cavity Curiosity Shop & The Vorpal Gnome a very small shop brimming with music, books, art, and pop culture.
- James Bay Coffee & Books serves up books, coffee, and live music events.
- Bring & Buy Books (no website) is located 1241 Esquimalt Rd. Call for details: 250-382-1241.
- Pages Books (Brentwood Bay – closed in 2018)
- Dragonfly Books (Western Communities)
- Penelope’s Book Stop (Western Communities)
- Smart Bookshop (Royal Oak Shopping Centre)
- Sidney Booktown (Sidney bookstore directory)
- Well Read Books (Sooke)
- Galiano Books on Galiano Island. See profile in The Guardian.
- Vancouver Island Bookshops & Bookbinders
- BC independent book sellers (Tyee)
- Abebooks.com (founded and headquartered in Victoria, BC; purchased by Amazon 2008; has millions of books, buyers and sellers around the world)
Rare, Collectable, & Beautiful Books
- Period Fine Bindings also (see their youtube video)
- The Haunted Bookshop (Sidney)
- Galleon Books (Sidney)
- Period Fine Bindings (Oak Bay) is an amazing place for those fascinated by antiquarian books.
- Meadland Bindery (Brentwood Bay)
- Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists
- Guild of Book Workers
- Book Arts Organizations
Little Free (Street) Libraries
- Victoria & Area Little Free Libraries Map
- Esquimalt Neighbourhood Little Free Libraries
- Saanich & Esquimalt Little Free Street Libraries (photos)
Notable Vancouver Bookstores
- Banyen Books (Kitsilano)
- Odin Books (Broadway)
- McLeod’s Books (Pender)
- Albion Books (near McLeod’s)
- Paperhound Book Shop (near McLeod’s)
- Criterion Books (near McLeod’s)
- Spartacus Books (Commercial Drive)
- Pulp Fiction Books (3 locations)
- People’s Co-op Books (Commercial Drive)
- 4 hidden gems (Vancouver)
Notable Bookstores worldwide
- Housing Works – New York
- The Strand – New York
- Powell’s Books – Portland
- Weller Book Works – Salt Lake City
- Tattered Cover Bookstore – Denver
- Shakespeare & Company – Paris
- Typebooks – Toronto
- Booksellers Row – Toronto
- Best Indie Bookshops in the World
“The Bookshop has a thousand books,
All colors, hues, and tinges,
And every cover is a door
That turns on magic hinges.”
–– Nancy Byrd Turner
- Audible – Super popular, heavily advertised, but also under fire by indie bookstores (read critique by Cory Doctorow).
- Libro.fm – Lauded for working well with indie bookstores.
- Scribd Reading Service – Reviewed by The Verge and Business Insider.
Know of a bookstore that should be listed? Send an email.
Updated February 2019