In the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy is a small second-hand bookstore with big dreams.
Sellers & Newel Second-Hand Books opened its doors in November 2011 at 672 College Street, and while the store itself may be new, its owners are no strangers to the bookselling world. The store’s proprietor, Peter Sellers, has worked selling books on the Internet and, for the past five years, has sold books through a retail business in Stratford, Ontario. His associate and the store’s manager, David Newel, has been in the antiquarian book trade for almost two decades, working for David Mason Books and Abelard Books.
This charming new addition to the Toronto literary scene stocks books on a wide range of subjects: “Lots of history, art (including many beautiful art books priced as low as $10), fashion, literature, an amazing section on James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, polar exploration, martial arts, poetry, literary essays and titles that we find odd or interesting.” The store stocks many first editions and antiquarian books, including some rare editions of books by J.R.R. Tolkien!
Sellers & Newel’s total stock is over 30,000 books. If what you’re looking for is not on their shelves, they are happy to find it for you in storage and get it in for you as quickly as possible. “We do our best to fill special orders and we are fairly successful at doing so often within a day or two. We bring books in for customers all the time. That's one service we have that is somewhat different, we think.”
They stock their shelves very carefully, occasionally looking at interesting libraries and buying on a selective basis. It seems they choose their shelves for their interesting qualities as well. They even have a shelf shaped like a coffin! (see photograph)
“The best way to appreciate the store is to visit, of course,” said the owners. “And we did find a tweet online in which a young woman wrote ‘The dudes at Sellers and Newel are rad.’ We liked that.”
Several customers have said the store has a curated feeling. When asked what it is that provides this atmosphere, Sellers and Newel responded, “We did not strive for the curated feeling particularly, but by having a fair number of higher-end books and a lot of hardcover books (which has also been commented upon) that feeling seems to have emerged on its own.”
The store’s owners say their “customers are a mixed lot. Many students, collectors, with a wide age range. There seems to be no typical customer, except all seem to have curious minds.” Situated near a residential area, restaurants, the Royal Cinema and clubs like the Revival, Sellers & Newel’s location is perfect for getting lots of foot traffic, but they are visited my many regulars as well.
While poetry and classic literature remain steady sellers, sales come from all areas of the store. As far as trends in book buying, Sellers and Newel say “the biggest trend seems to be that people are buying books,” which is a heartening thought indeed.
“We are selling more than we imagined we would at this point,” said the store owners. “Lots of people come in just to welcome us to the neighbourhood.”
And what can we expect from Sellers & Newel in the future? “You can expect expansion of key sections, events [...], more social media activity, and the constant addition of compelling new titles. And a long, long stay on College Street.”
Welcome to the neighbourhood, Sellers & Newel!
For more information about the bookstore and its happenings, visit them in person at 672 College Street, Toronto, or visit their website at www.sellersandnewel.com
Danielle Webster is the editorial intern for Open Book: Toronto, with a degree in English literature and a certificate in publishing. She has worked as a bookseller for the past seven years. When Danielle is not reading kids and teen books, she is blogging about them at Bookish Notions.