04/01/2014 12:35 EDT

Chapters In Downtown Toronto Closes, Amid Flurry Of Disappearing Bookstores

amber dawn pullin via Flickr

Toronto’s bookstores are disappearing faster than you can say “turn the page,” and the latest to close its doors is the former flagship of the Chapters chain at John and Richmond Streets.

Indigo confirmed to HuffPost Canada Tuesday it’s closing the store that Chapters had used as its flagship location, before the merger with Indigo in 2001. The store shutters on May 30, 2014.

An Indigo spokesperson said the company is “actively looking for new real estate options in Oakville, downtown Toronto and Bloor West Village that will best meet our requirements.”

Even if the store reappears in a new location, the retailer’s footprint in Toronto, and around the country, appears to be shrinking. The company had eight fewer small stores and one fewer big-box store as of its last earnings report.

And the announcement of the Chapters closure comes days after another iconic Toronto book retailer, The World’s Biggest Bookstore, shut down after three-and-a-half decades in the city’s downtown core. That store was also owned by Chapters-Indigo, in its last years of operation.

Meanwhile, the indie bookstore chain Book City closed its flagship location on Bloor Street West last month, and the Cookbook Store in Yorkville is history. Chapters Indigo shut its location at the Runnymede Theatre in the west end a month earlier.

The last two months have been like a wake without the alcohol,” John Snyder, manager of the closing Book City location, said of the growing number of bookstore closures, as quoted at the Toronto Star.

Brick-and-mortar bookstores have been struggling to hold their own as book shopping moves increasingly online. In a sign of the times, Amazon this week announced a major expansion of its product offerings in Canada, to include musical instruments and wireless products.

Chapters-Indigo has struggled with sales recently, though it did manage a bounce-back in its most recent earnings report.

Tellingly, same-store sales in the third quarter grew a mere 0.5 per cent for its small stores and 2.6 per cent for the big-box stores, but online sales jumped nearly 20 per cent, to a record high of $41.5 million.

But that still represents only about 13 per cent of its total revenue.

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