Seven, why seven? In honour of the writerly tradition of seven character archetypes proposed by Vogler, I’ve cast each one as an archetypal character. You could spend days touring these bookstores, each with their own unique character to suit whatever mood or occasion, and a high level of Canadian customer service. This list features the big players, and also the minor characters.
Still in Old Town, just a short hop away but huddled behind the main thoroughfare, lies Renaissance Books. A maze of shelves navigable by subjects ranging from poetry to First Nations, walking in feels like stepping back in time. There is an online search machine, but the magic lies in wandering around, reviving the art of browsing and seeing what you might stumble upon. This venerable store surely has wisdom to impart to the lost, so open yourself up to discover something new.
The mainstay of bookstores, this national chainstore sells a lot more than books and is spread over three floors. A powerful superstore, Chapters combines electronics with homeware and magazines under one roof. Guarding its interests and certainly holding a monopoly in terms of services it offers: rewards programs and subscriptions, the store is keen to ally itself with its customers. Although more a department store and very much the modern face of book buying, it still keeps the physical book in circulation and hosts regular events such as book signings and debates. Don’t forget to check out the games selection in the basement. There’s a Starbucks upstairs too if all the page flicking wears you out.
Although not an actual bookstore, AbeBooks is a major source of economic income for the city. It sits slightly uncomfortably among the others on this list as the only online-only bookstore. Just as Munro’s championed the future of paperback in its time, AbeBooks.com looks to the next step in the journey of storytelling. An online marketplace for books that unites students and textbooks, the Victoria HQ is the birthplace of the virtual inventory. It continues to expand the horizon for book seekers and open up the value of used books for a whole new world to explore.
410 Garbally Road, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 250-412-3258
If there’s still not enough choice for you, simply travel up the peninsula to Sidney to find another wealth of bookstores on Vancouver Island. Even in Victoria, there are many other bookstores to explore, and this list merely scratches the surface So see which one suits you best, from laid back to businesslike; lose yourself in a odyssey of fictional worlds and let the adventure begin.