First Published: The Forge Vol 7, No 38, November 5, 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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After over six years of operations, the Norman Bethune Bookstore in Toronto will be closing its doors at the end of November.
Financial difficulties are the immediate reason for closing the store. As with any small business, the economic crisis has meant inflated costs and dropping sales. But our bookstore was in a particularly poor position to weather the storm since it has never been financially secure (eg. it has always depended on volunteer labour) – and this, in the most competitive market for books in Canada.
This situation is linked to the view we had of the bookstore, which for the first few years especially was very narrow: it was seen mainly as a centre to sell the WCP’s publications and Marxist classics, and so didn’t try to meet the broader interests and needs of the progressive community in Toronto. No serious effort was made to establish the store on a solid financial basis, which would have allowed it to develop into a viable enterprise with a wide clientele. Significant improvements in the selection of books in recent years was not sufficient to overcome this more fundamental problem.
Despite its failings, members and friends of the WCP have used and relied on the bookstore for a long time and are deeply saddened by its loss. It is a blow for those who have worked there, for those who have supported it, and for the party’s work to which the bookstore contributed in many ways. Friends of the party have also commented that the loss of an outlet for progressive literature is a setback for the left in general.
We feel it will be important in the coming period to examine more closely the history of the bookstore in Toronto and also to try to find ways to compensate for the loss of the party’s public face in the city.
The Norman Bethune Bookstore staff