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Losing My ReligionBy Nicole Trask | Jan 12, 2012
I can remember wiling away many an afternoon transfixed amongst the towering stacks of literature at J.W. Doull Books on Barrington Street. It’s where I acquired a vintage edition of Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley, The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood and countless Tom Robbins novels, still gracing my bookshelves today. Now, I’m not a religious person in the slightest but if a good second-hand bookstore doesn’t make me feel closer to heaven, than I don’t know what does. I haven’t given up on my love of books in all forms (hard-cover, paperbacks and collectors’ items) and I’m still eschewing e-books. J.W. Doull has been around for 25 years (15 years in the Barrington Street location and ten on Granville Street). I was very sad to hear the news that it will soon be leaving downtown Halifax in search of greener pastures on the dark side. Over the next couple of months, 200,000 plus books will be migrating to the Main Street location in Dartmouth that was once home to Wacky Wheatley’s. According to John Doull, the rents in downtown Halifax are getting expensive and the upcoming move is in response to this. Their companion bookstore, Jade W Books, around the corner on Prince Street, will also be following suit.
“This is a survival tactic,” says Doull. “The new space is bigger and it will be nice to have everything under one roof.”
Halifax’s loss will certainly be Dartmouth’s gain but I can’t help but feeling a little distraught over the impending move. I know that I can go visit but I hate to see downtown Halifax lose another valuable resource and frankly, a bit of history. Doull assures me that the new location is very easy to get to on the number ten bus but I am still a bit remiss. Thankfully, we still have The Last Word on Windsor Street but are bookstores like these destined to become a thing of the past? Doull says he’s witnessed the closing of several colleagues’ second-hand bookstores but that he still maintains loyal customers, many of whom live in Dartmouth and are excited about the new location. In the past, customers visiting from out of province often found parking downtown to be impossible. Plus, the recent closures and uncertain future of Barrington Street have made for tough times.
“When Sam the Record Man closed, I lost a bit of hope,” says Doull. “People used to come downtown to buy records and then they would walk next door and visit me.”
The gradual move will likely take at least a couple of months so there’s still time to stop by the Barrington Street location to go hunting for literary treasures. I’m planning to visit at least a few more times before they close their doors. In my opinion, you can never have too many great books lying around your house because a good read is truly a religious experience.
Doull amongst the stacks at Jade W Books.