Vancouver, British Columbia, is known for its laidback West Coast lifestyle and is home to hipsters and hippies alike. It’s also known for its rain during the fall, winter, and spring - making bookstores the perfect place to hide out and find some hidden treasures.
Vancouver’s bookstores reflect the diverse demographics with everything from spiritual bookshops to comic stores and used book dens that attract serious collectors from all over the world. Many used and rare bookstores are concentrated in Gastown on West Pender, in Kitsilano, and on Main Street or Commercial Drive. Here are the top 11 bookstores to visit in the city, from kids book shops to comic stores.
Since 1970, Kitsilano's Banyen Books & Sounds has been providing spiritual and healing resources for people in need of a boost for body, spirit, and soul. From self-help to yoga sutras, the store is a treasure trove of New Age titles and the store hosts events and readings that cover topics from health to how to find enlightenment.
The store also sells crystals, statues, meditation CDs, music, gazing balls, tarot and other spiritual aids.
Opened in 1964 in downtown, this store is a Vancouver institution. MacLeod’s is home to thousands of books, from popular fiction to out-of-print editions and rare antiquarian delights, all of them piled high in the labyrinthine store on Pender Street. Visiting celebrities often stop by to peruse the books and look for treasures.
Canada’s biggest bookstore chain Chapters Indigo has a new home on Robson Street and here you’ll find new books from local, Canadian, and international authors. Worth a visit to see the staff picks and curated collections, Indigo also sells its own range of funky homeware and everything from yoga mats and candles to reading socks and framed photos.
Vancouver’s newest bookstore The Paper Hound sells “the classic, curious, odd, beautiful, visually arresting, scholarly, bizarre, and whimsical” books from it’s downtown eastside location on West Pender Street between Richards and Homer, which has the highest density of bookstores in the city.
From Archie comics to Medieval manuscripts, Kestrel Books has been selling rare and used books in the city since the mid 1980s when Ron Fryer opened his bookstore on Broadway, before relocating to Cambie and then West 4th. Now the bookstore is close to Banyen Books but specializes in vintage and used books.
Pulp Fiction has three locations: Kitsilano, Main Street, and Commercial Drive. The bookstores have more than 80,000 new and used books. New releases are often at a discounted price and the subjects cover current fiction and non-fiction titles. The Main Street location especially has a high turnover of books, with new ones coming in often.
Collectively run for more than 40 years, Spartacus Books is a nonprofit, volunteer-run bookstore and resource center. As well as a wide range of anti-capitalist, political books, the store also offers free internet, computer access, complimentary hot drinks, and board games.
Main Street’s little blue and yellow store Lucky’s Books & Comics is home to quirky books, Manga, graphic novels, and comics. For more than 20 years the store has been selling unusual titles, comics, and kids books as well as hosting book launches and author talks.
Specializing in rare books and popular titles, Massy Books is Indigenous owned and a member of the Stó:lō Business Association. One of the coolest things about this store is the secret rare reading room that is hidden behind an otherwise ordinary looking bookshelf and the 400 square-foot art gallery upstairs that showcases local artists.
As the name suggests, this bookstore Kidsbooks specializes in books for little ones. It opened in 1983 when ex-librarian Phyllis Simon decided to expand her love of children’s literature into a business. Covering all ages, the bright and inviting store is a treasure trove for young readers.
Located close to MacLeod's, Albion Books is a carefully curated collection of second-hand books for collectors. The store sells recent best sellers, modern first, classic literature, philosophy, science, and political books, as well as sheet music.