Sophia Books becomes latest independent Vancouver bookstore to close

Sophia Books (450 W. Hastings) is the latest independent bookstore to close in Vancouver.

Owner Marc Fournier told the Straight in a phone interview that he will be closing the retail side of the business, although the store will not disappear entirely. "We're going to concentrate on the school and library division and mail orders," Fournier said.

Stating that the price of commercial space "is totally out of sync with the size of city that we have," Fournier also noted that chain bookstores have taken a sizeable chunk of the market. "There is no room for independents [in Vancouver]," he said.

Duthie Books, one of Vancouver's best-known independent bookstores, also closed its doors earlier this year.

A book close-out sale is on now at Sophia Books, with a 40-percent discount on all books in stock. The sale will continue until the store's stock is depleted.

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Mark Stuckert

Apr 26, 2010 at 5:30pm



Apr 27, 2010 at 1:05pm

Maybe if they had moved to a more friendly location, the retail side of things would have worked out better. I used to work on that block.

This is the choice:

A) Going down to Hastings, paying $10 to park for 30 mins, dodging clouds of crack smoke, playing hopscotch to get around the bodies strewn across the sidewalk, avoiding the scientogolists and panhandling VFS students, buying my books, then returning to my car to find the knobs of my stereo gone, a condom in the back seat, and graffiti on my door.

B) 1-click purchase at with free shipping.

Tough choice there.....

Please, please, please, if you're going to open a bookstore, gallery, or design studio; there are many locations in Vancouver with cheaper rents and better accessibility that do not have the "Bosnia in 1994" vibe going on. Your clients, customers, and investors will thank you, and I won't have to support monopolistic corporations anymore. It's time to get over the "street cred" aspect of opening a business in cracktown.


Apr 27, 2010 at 6:50pm

The loss of independent bookstores is a good indicator of the increasing corporatization of Vancouver, as is the loss of independent (i.e. non-franchise) restaurants, the lack of theatres that play independent movies or foreign movies, the loss of venues for independent music, etc. Vancouver is increasingly becoming the densely populated, vertical suburb. Small independent cultural venues go the way of the dodo in the face of expensive rents. As the saying goes, the real estate developer is the enemy of bohemia. Real estate costs drive out people who do not want to work 50+ hours a week paying off a mortgage for a 800 square foot sleep/kitchen cubicle. This is why we have a mono-corporate culture downtown, with the character of a mall. I doubt that Sophia will be able to find another space to rent in the downtown peninsula, if you can't pay astronomical rents, just get out, that's the Vancouver way. And this is why we have such boring bookstores downtown, if you want to stay you have sell silly mass market books for people who see reading as a harmless diversion, a way to kill time. There is currently less bookstores in the downtown than there was when there was about half the current population. But there is a hell of a lot of top 40 bars, clip shops, shoe shops, fashion shops. Pray for a crash, it's the only thing that can save Vancouver.


Apr 28, 2010 at 10:38am

Birdy, so Sophia's was going for "street cred?"

And the rest of your skittish screed reads like a fearful suburbanite's nightmare vision of the big, scary city. If you're that easily frightened, best stick to Robson street which has been sanitized for your protection.


Apr 28, 2010 at 1:56pm

Déjí  il n'y a pas beaucoup de librairie í  Vancouver qui vendent des livres en franí§ais maintenant il n'y aura plus. C'est vraiment dommage!

Kevin Dale McKeown

Apr 29, 2010 at 10:39am

I ran a bookstore around the corner from Sophia's on Cambie Street for eight years, and Birdy's characterization of the block or two west of Cambie is totally off base. Two or three blocks east, maybe, but the street "vibe" in the vicinity of Sophia's was never the issue.

Perhaps if Birdy works for a locally owned business he or she will one day discover that the more folks choose to send their money to mega-dealers online, the fewer local businesses there will be creating jobs for local people --- like Birdy.

Thanks to Marc Fournier for a good run and a wonderful store. It will be missed by many.

craig engman

Apr 29, 2010 at 6:16pm



Aug 14, 2010 at 11:50am

Mark, I am so sorry and sad to hear about the store shutting down. I wish I could knew before the store closed out. Please contact me, I am wondering if we can still doing the school book fair. You know I support your business 100%.
All the best,


Jan 13, 2011 at 7:52pm

Sophia Books is where I met my soulmate, and where I felt as though the world truely was represtened in that store. French books at best in a supposedly bilingual country are near impossible to find in Vancouver, and Sophia's closing now hushes another voice as it's own voice is hushed. It's also a personal loss for the soul.. for now I return there and stare emptily at a shell that brought me my book fix and also brought me the love of my life...

The loss is all too sad.


Sep 30, 2011 at 11:23am

Sophia books was great. Everytime I need something in French, like now, I miss it as if it closed yesterday. Click to order, sure. 1-2 weeks I'll get my book or DVD. But where's the pleasure of doing business with a man who decided to live his life here and run his shop here with his Japanese wife? Instead I send my money to some headquarters in Toronto. Now we are less multicultural and far less human.