The Book Room is expected to clear out inventory and close its doors for the final time at the end of March 2008, about eight weeks from now. Eight weeks...and then we'll have to say goodbye to a Nova Scotian icon. Founded in 1839, The Book Room has survived two World Wars, the Halifax Explosion and the Great Depression, and it will be a great loss to Canadian booklovers and to its local community. Charles Burchell, president of The Book Room, is justifiably disappointed. "The Book Room has been an institution in Nova Scotia."
The explanation given for its imminent closure? Increased competition, deep discounting from big-box and Internet retailers, as well as dual pricing issues. In Canada, books have traditionally been printed with two prices--Canadian and American. Canadian prices have always been quite a bit higher, but the recent strength of the Canadian dollar has put much pressure on the entire book industry. Canadian customers want US pricing, with that price on the back cover of books; publishers can't afford to discount their books to US pricing when they've based everything on a higher Canadian price, and booksellers are forced to either lower prices and take a loss or lose their customers and their business.
"Out with the old, in with the new" might be an exciting way to ring in the New Year, but in the book business, the saying is a painfully discordant reminder to make way for the "big-boys", at the expense of tradition.