Another independent bookseller falls: Oscar's Art Books announces it's closing

After 24 years in business, many of them directly across the street from one of the big-chain bookstores that were once thought to be the biggest threat to independent booksellers, Oscar’s Art Books has announced that it’s preparing to close its doors for good.

The reason given in the short statement made today by owner Sean O’Flynn is not competition from megachains like Chapters-Indigo, Oscar’s close neighbour on West Broadway at Granville. Rather it is “internet technology”, which “has caught up with” the store and forced it into shutdown.

Oscar's will close on March 31. 

Over the years, it has built a strong clientele by specializing in a curated selection of large-format art books, along with an array of offbeat calendars. 

Comments (17) Add New Comment
cranky mom
how sad. it is our go-to store for art books
Rating: +22
My fav book store!makes me goin there on a Sunday afternoon.
Rating: +15
Alan Layton
This is devastating. It was my favourite book store. I would gladly pay the extra costs just to support the store, but unfortunately most people aren't, and I can't blame them. Amazon can sell the same books for less than the store pays to import them.
Rating: -5
Oh that is very sad news. I love that store and it's where I go when I need a book! I will miss it. I don't understand the desire to shop online. There is nothing like standing in a book shop just browsing and looking a book over before deciding to buy. I seldom walk out with only one. Oscars has such a great variety. I'm really sorry to see them close down.
Rating: +14
A. Writer
Sad to see another independent bookstore close down. What a curious day it will be when independent book stores are thriving and Chapters is shrinking ....
Rating: +3
Brayden Burrard
It is disappointing when a business closes its doors, but Oscar's served the needs of a very niche market, that being people who wanted coffee table artist monographs. Read books at Emily Carr and Pulp Fiction continually serve those who need to find hard to get artist books usually unavailable online (which is most of the art publishing industry). I approached Oscar's in the past regarding hard to find artist books, works published by Sternberg Press or sold by D.A.P., and at the time I was told they would not be able to help me and directed me to Pulp Fiction. Pulp actually special ordered the books I need (as did Read bookstore at Emily Carr), and I received them in a timely manner at a decent price. I should also mention that the Or gallery bookstore is another great place to buy artist books, but I am unsure if they directly do special orders as I am also unsure of the wait times for books if they do. Oscar's didn't keep up with the market it was purporting to serve, artists. People may not appreciate these comments, but I think its important to note that artist publishing and sales are alive and well, it is just that small business models need to remain relevant and creative in how they get their products into the hands of customers.
Rating: -7
Art Lover
Don't you love it when people slag a store because they couldn't get their one book. Oscar's has been in business for 24 years, so obviously they've done something right for all those years. I agree, I've been in there and seen people scanning books with their iPhones to check the price at Amazon. I've never had a problem getting any hard to find or out of print book from Oscar's. "Small business models need to remain relevant"...tell that to the 80% of North American bookstores gone out of business in the past 10 years due to Amazon. "Oscar's didn't keep up with the market it was purporting to serve, artists". What a bunch of garbage. How many bookstores in Vancouver have never been out of stock of the amazing, out of print, hard to find, Fred Herzog book of Vancouver photographs? Oscar's is the only store in the city who always has copies. Which bookstore has every new Pixar or Disney animation book? Oscar's. So because it doesn't have some catalogue about an obscure artist working in triangles, from some gallery in Germany, they aren't serving the local artists? My guess is that 1% of local artists are actually making money in Vancouver, and they are the ones buying the books. Anyhow, love Oscar's for many many years, always great service, always an amazing $20 photography book marked down from $100. Gonna miss them terribly. Good luck Oscar's!
Rating: -1
Rating: 0
RIP Oscar's.

I miss the days of browsing for stuff in actual stores - records, CD's, DVD's, books, prints, etc.

Are people getting scared to leave their homes or what?

Rating: -4
I walked by the store yesterday and was initially sad to see they were closing... or were they "closing"? I guess they really are closing! I went to mu favourite section to see if I could get a good deal with the 30% off discount... NOPE! The book was STILL unaffordable (for me), and I knew if I wanted to make the effort, it was definitely cheaper on-line. The point is... if I was willing to make the effort. If it was cheap enough, I would have just bought the book, which is the power that a physical store location has... people walking in and randomly seeing something they want and walking out a customer... if the price is right. And the price has never been right at Oscar's for me.

It is nothing to do with them being a book store... it is their business model. I visited a great used bookstore in a very small out-of-the-way town in BC, and was flabbergasted how the guy made a living, with only 2 months of tourism a year... "90% of my sales are on-line". SO... if some guy in a small town in the mountains seems to have embraced the new era of sales more successfully than a store in a wannabee world city, best of luck to them!
Rating: -17
I work at UPS loading the Courier trucks and Oscar's is on my route. Sad to see it go! They still get many shipments a day. I wonder what will happen to their stock.
Rating: -3
I have been a regular Oscar's customer since the store opened. I generally visit every week or so (I live 10 minutes' walk away). God and Oscar alone know how many books I've bought there over the years usually in my favoured subject areas of photography, architecture and art history. The regular shipments of remainders were like Christmas; one never knew what treasures might appear. Oscar's worked harder than any other store in the city to maintain an interesting, eclectic stock in their chosen specialities of art and design. The only other store in Vancouver that does so is the VAG bookstore, and they don't stock remaindered art books. That's a pity, because there's tons of good stuff out there to choose from.

Needless to say, I am devastated by this news-- but I've been afraid for some time that it might happen. The warning signs were there-- during the last couple of years the stock had begun to stagnate, the shipments of new remainders were becoming less and less frequent, and the number of staff dwindled. Oscar's tried to keep up with technological change by installing an expensive print-to-order machine that could call upon a catalogue of millions of out-of-print titles or custom-print vanity titles. They were the first in the city with such a device but others swiftly followed suit. I can't recall the last time I saw the machine in use; it's become a white elephant.

I've been a book junkie all my adult life. I particularly love good used bookstores (MacLeod's!), as well as new bookstores that maintain a good, intelligently-chosen selection of remainders (superb examples: Munro's in Victoria, in Bellingham, Eclipse, Village Books and Henderson's; and in Seattle, the University Bookstore, Elliott Bay and Ravenna Third Place Books). In Vancouver, sadly, loving bookstores increasingly condemns one to slow starvation. This is a brain-dead culture-bereft city that celebrates mindless hedonism, professional sports, the making and spending of large amounts of money, and little else. It's become a boring, brain-dead city. No wonder bookstores can't survive here. I'm wondering how much longer I can. We're off to Paris in a couple of months. Can't wait to plug into the big mainframe of world culture once again. Every time we manage to escape Parvenuver, for a little while, it's like being freed on parole. For a little while… Adieu, Oscar's, and thanks.
Rating: -1
Dr Strangelove
Rating: -10
I have been a regular customer of Oscar's for years and am very sad to see this wonderful business close its doors. I always could count on finding books on Graffiti / Street Art there, and the remaindered art and photography books were amazing finds. Best of luck to the owner and thank you for giving book lovers a special place to make new discoveries. You will be greatly missed!
Rating: +1
It was the only place in Vancouver that I could find the Sierra Club calendars. Duthie Books used to sell them too. Now both stores are gone. Sad indeed.
Rating: -1
How many know there never was an'Oscar'? Anyway it was one of the last few reasons I had for driving into Van
Rating: -2
Was just in and received horrendous customer service. I mean, eye rolling and just plain rude. Maybe small stores could stay competitive if they stepped up their customer service game. I for one have never been treated like crap in Chapters, so to chapters I will go. I don't know if this guy was the owner or just staff but either way customers do not owe him their money so he should act accordingly.
Rating: +1
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