Ballenford Books 1979-2008
Specialty bookstores are a labour of love, a dying breed, a money pit, a host of clichés. I know; a group of Toronto`s best architects, engineers, landscape architects and me bought Ballenford Books out of bankruptcy during the real estate crash in the early '90s. Andrea Kristof and I designed this store (updated since, shown here for the launch of Concrete Toronto) ; I have always thought those steel stud shelves were the best thing I ever did.
But we couldn't make it work either. Susan Delean thought she could, and took it over in 1996. It became a bright, cheerful, welcoming hub of the design community, full of great books, great shows, and great staff. Every book on green design I reviewed on TreeHugger was purchased there. Now she has succumbed too, writing: "Over the past few years, it has become ever more clear that Ballenford Books, is no longer a viable business. The cumulative effect of more schools turning to Master's programs and away from textbook based teaching; with local University libraries sourcing books through mega-distributors in North America while coping with shrinking budgets; with the onslaught of the 'big-box' retailers; online shopping options; the new norm of discount pricing; and - most recently - the parity of the Canadian dollar with the US dollar - that the Canadian publishers were too slow to react to - has forced the store into a corner."