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Book Browsing in Vancouver

abstract:Bookbuffet takes the pulse of this city's literary scene during the week that topped the weather charts for the most rain in the shortest period—this century! But such is the hardiness of Vancouverites...


October 20, 2003
— The Vancouver International Writers Festival kicks off tomorrow, and so it seems like a perfect time to scope out this city's literary scene.

Festivals, Events & Programs

The Vancouver International Writers Festival  (October 21-26) was started 16 years ago by  Alma Lee, the current Artistic Director. She says: "I wanted to bring some of the most interesting writers from around the globe to Vancouver. I wanted to give you, as readers, an opportunity to hear writers read and talk about their work, to speak with writers about their work, and to listen to them discuss the world of words with each other. It worked! We have a first-class Festival now—an exciting and exceptional celebration of writing and reading. We’ve built on our success year after year, thanks to the loyalty and trust of readers."   

Like many U.S. cities, Vancouver hosts a citywide reading program, the "One book One Vancouver". This month the book is Timothy Taylor's Stanley Park.  

For listings of author readings and other book-related events, check out: Book Events across Canada.

Writers and Company/CBC radio has some of my favorite author inteviews. Here's the fall schedule.

Libraries & Book Stores

During a break in the weather, I dashed downtown to The Vancouver Public Library, the beautiful "Colliseum-esque" architectural building, which truly anchors the literary arts in this city. The VPL is the second largest public library system in Canada, with over 395,000 cardholders and more than 8 million items borrowed annually. The library's origins go back as far as 1869. Today, with the Central Library, 20 branches, collections available in a variety of formats and languages, and Outreach Services to home-bound patrons, VPL is accessible to all citizens of Vancouver. The Fall Booksale is scheduled for October 23-26.

For a Web listing of Vancouver's bookstores, books, and writers, visit  Nightcats. One of my favorite book stores is Duthie's Bookstore, a family business established in 1957. There were nine stores up until 1991 when Duthies fell upon hard times; now there is a single Kitsilano location store. The same people are still at this location and, according to the owner, she still has contact with previous employees because "[N]obody ever really leaves Duthie's. It's a way of life."

Vancouver has also developed a vibrant comic book and 'zine industry. For a listing of local specialty retailers and events, check out The Word on the Street

Literary Organizations

  • Literacy BC is the provincial literacy organization that promotes and supports literacy and learning in British Columbia. Founded in 1990, Literacy BC is a diverse network of individuals and groups involved and interested in literacy in BC.
  • The Association of Book Publishers of BC was founded in 1974 with five book publishing companies. Today, the ABPBC represents over fifty members engaged in every type of book publishing including educational, scholarly, children's, self-help, Aboriginal, literary, and other trade publishing genres.


Literary & Review Journals

  • Canadian Literary Index: The Canadian Literary Periodicals Index has two main objectives: to access most Canadian primary materials (poems, short stories, novels, plays, and literary essays), and to access most Canadian secondary materials (critical articles, book reviews, interviews, and bibliographies) in the field of Canadian literature. The CLPI database consists of some 55,000 citations and is expanding rapidly.
  • The Canadian Book Review Annual presents original 200- to 400-word reviews of the English-language trade, scholarly, and reference books that are published in Canada each year, and that are written by Canadians or those residing in Canada. They have been very successful in eliciting the participation of Canadian publishers, and provide a publishers directory as an appendix to the annual.
  • A Room of One's Own: Canadian Womens Literary Magazine.
  • If you want to see how diverse the Vancouver population and its viewpoints are, just check out the excellent general interest and culture magazines on the newstands. The British Columbia Association of Magazines website has the full list from Cannibus Culture Magazine to Pacific Rim Magazine

Just for Writers

  • Places for writers is a great website offering:  news, announcements, jounals, publishers, workshops, retreats, contests, calls, funds... it has it all.

Last, but not least...



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