March 8, 2022

Book City at Yonge + St. Clair

We sat down with the local Book City bookstore at 1430 Yonge St., to catch up on all things literature. Book City is the local independent bookstore at Yonge + St. Clair, with 4 locations now across Toronto. Here’s an inside peek at what’s going on this season!

Yonge + St. Clair: Book City is a popular local book store located at Yonge + St. Clair, can you tell us about the shop and what can customers look forward to when they visit?
Hopefully finding their next great read! But beyond that, we hope people will find a vast selection of books to choose from. We have tables full of the latest releases, but also marked down publishers’ overstock titles. Our shelves are packed with titles, new and old, that we love seeing people browse through. And if you need help picking something out for yourself or someone else, our staff is happy to give recommendations.
2) What are some interesting things about your shop that new and regular customers might not know?
All new hardcovers are always 10% off. Also, we have a loyalty program that offers further discounts. We receive new books nearly everyday, and new publisher overstock titles at least once a month. Which hopefully should explain the constant pile of boxes people see at the back of the store.
3) Can you tell us about the history and background of the Book City stores in Toronto?
Book City was started by Frans and Gini Donker and has been a Toronto mainstay for over 45 years. Ian Donker, their son, now runs the business. There are currently four locations: in the Bloor West Village, in the Beaches, on the Danforth (at the Carrot Common), and of course our location on Yonge. We’re now in our 15th year in this spot.
4) What will customers find different shopping at an independent book store like Book City, in comparison to big box retailers? 
I think an independent store learns to adjust to a neighbourhood. Each Book City store is different from one another because they are all in different neighbourhoods. When someone comes into our store we try to give them a more personal experience that a neighbourhood store can provide. We know a lot of customers by name, we have conversations with them, they have conversations with each other. The small independent bookstore is a meeting place for the community and we love this community. I can only speak to my experiences in big box stores, but I have never felt part of a community shopping at one.
5) What’s the role that the Yonge + St. Clair community plays in your location’s success?
Well, let me build on my previous answer by adding that there are definitely a lot of devoted readers in this area, which has led to us having a lot of regular customers. People are just as excited as we are to see new books arrive. Without a community of book enthusiasts like we have here this job wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable. I want to also say that throughout the pandemic and the lockdowns and the capacity limits the neighbourhood has been incredibly supportive. We are very grateful to have the neighbours that we do.
About the team
6) Can you briefly introduce the staff and leadership team at the Yonge + St. Clair Book City? 
I’m Chris and I manage the store. You will likely find Alison or Katharine or myself here on any given day.
7) What are your and your staff’s current book recommendations, or must-reads?
There are loads of new books this season, especially given that many titles got delayed during the pandemic. So, lots to choose from. Here’s a few:
Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit
Red X by David Demchuk
Unreconciled By Jesse Wente
On Animals by Susan Orlean
Bewilderment by Richard Powers
Any book written by Jean-Patrick Manchette (1970s era French author whose works are republished by New York Review Books)
Plus many, many more.
(Seriously, we love giving recommendations.)
8) What are the best ways to get in touch with your store?
The local Book City is located at 1430 Yonge St. Feel free to call 416-926-0749, or to visit our website at!