In the summer of 2014, we posted an interview with Doug Miller, our beloved local bookmonger. Since then, he has moved across the street, to 650 Bloor Street West and opened the door to a larger store, which offers a great selection of discounted adult fiction and non-fiction; children’s picture books and novels; as well as many comics. It’s one of BuzzFeed’s 35 Charming Canadian Bookstores You Need To Visit, and the now not-so-hidden gem of Korea town.
“Business is better than ever,” says Doug. “Some people did not see us across the street. I lost count over 400 people welcoming us to the neighbourhood…They were shocked that they didn’t see us. Now they see us.” Doug has some theories as to why his store is being noticed more on the north side of the street – it’s sunnier, there’s more retail, and all the subway entrances/exits are on the same side.
Whatever the reason, the store is bigger and has better lighting, which Doug points out. “Soon you’ll be able to get wheelchairs down every aisle. People can bring their carriages in. It’ll be a lot easier to maneuver around; it will be more comfortable to shop here.”
Doug has seen all kinds of kids in his store. He recently had a run on Judy Blume books, because she was in Toronto (at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon) and there was a lot of press. From classics to dystopian worlds, Robert Munsch to Lois Lowry to Louis Sachar, Doug enjoys making recommendations for his young patrons: “What kind of books have you read in the past?” he asks. And when he finds the perfect book, all he has to say is: “Your parents won’t like this, but you will.” And that usually seals the deal.
“I’ve had Bumpkin for 13 years,” says Doug. “I know his habits. He’s very calm; he’s very relaxed. There are sometimes when that changes. One night I forgot to put the music on for him, and I came here in the morning – his water bowl was flipped over; he took his food dish and he had obviously whipped it. There was kibble everywhere. He didn’t destroy any of the books, but you could tell he was angry ’cause he likes the sound of the music at night and he missed it.” In case you’re wondering, Bumpkin has a fondness for jazz and CBC Radio.
By this August, Doug Miller will have been working in the book trade for 30 years. “Books,” he says, “are more popular than ever. The demand for certain books is always increasing. Classics are steadily moving out from the store. People are re-discovering the book in its oldest form – a sold, hand-held, page-turning piece of art.”