Used Bookstores in Montreal

I went to the Annual QWF Awards Gala last night, and on the way out, as I worked my way through the swag, I picked up a bookmark from the Used Book Circle that listed the second-hand bookstores (specializing in English-language books) that can be found in “mid-town” Montreal. As a fan of used bookstores, it occurred to me that this is a very nice and useful analog resource that could used a web-based companion.

If you’re awake, you’ll realize I just linked to, which is a nice catch-all resource for used bookstores in London (Ontario), Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Victoria. However, my very sketchy and not so empirical test reveals that it doesn’t show up well on Web searches. (Although it does include a lot of useful information beyond just bookstore addresses.) This blog, on the other hand, has, after almost eight years in existence, notched up a decent Google ranking.

Therefore, as a public service, I hereby pass on the Used Book Circle’s Montreal list, under the highly Googleable heading of “used bookstores in Montreal” (alternatively, “second-hand bookstores in Montreal”).

Used Bookstores in Montreal

Westcott Books
2065 Ste-Catherine West [Map]

Librairie Astro
1844 Ste-Catherine West [Map]

Odyssey Books*
1439 Stanley [Map]

Cheap Thrills*
2044 Metcalf [Map]

460 Ste-Catherine West, #406 [Map]

The Word*
469 Milton [Map]

S. W. Welch*
225 St. Viateur West [Map]

Ex Libris
2159 Mackay St. [Map]
Tel: 514-284-0350

(Update: closed.)


* Personal favorites
Note: cash only.


Bernard Wolf, owner/operator of Odyssey Books and the originator of the UBC, contacted me this week (late August 2009) with some additional information. He would have left it in the comments, but comments for this post are closed. Here is Bernard’s additional information, verbatim:

  1. The main function of UBC is to allow people to find a particular book locally before they head off to the WWW. On the left side of the UBC main page is a book request form which, when filled in, goes out to all of the ‘participating’ bookstores. By ‘participating’, we assume those on the list will check their shelves for the book in question and then get back to the potential customer to inform them of condition and cost. Of course, if all is satisfactory, the ‘client’ can then pick up the book . This is the main intent and function of UBC.
  2. The book store listings are always kept up to date and current.
  3. Their are quite a few more bookstores on the list than you indicate. Some
    are French.
  4. Not all bookstores in Montreal are on the list although they should be. Some just don’t ‘get it’. As there is no cost to anyone other than me – my personal contribution to the used book scene – I do not understand their reasoning and/or lack of business acumen. Just this week I ‘delivered’ over $175.00 worth of books through UBC.

19 thoughts on “Used Bookstores in Montreal

  1. Although, the thought of purchasing used books unless I REALLY want a certain title horrifies me, this is a great list for when I am looking for that out of print book :) Thanks B.

  2. There’s also that one in NDG, just west of Decarie, on Sherbrooke. I can’t recall the name, though…

  3. Thanks Dave. I’m doing “seasonal” headers lately. I already have a “winter” one ready, and I fear I’ll be using it sooner than I want to!

    Shawn, is that Encore Books you’re talking about? (5670 Sherbrooke W., near Ave. Harvard.) I’ve never been there, so I don’t know much about it, but I saw it in Used Book Circle’s listings. I’ll add it when I find out more information.

  4. It’s Encore Books, which is right across the street
    from where Welch’s was located after they moved down
    from Decarie and before they moved to St. Lawrence Blvd.

    Of course, that’s not a complete list of used book stores in
    Montreal, and actually it seems so short that I’d figure
    there were more involved in the project.

    It’s also out of date. Unless I’m confusing it with
    another store, “Bibliomania” closed up in July. And
    according to a September article in The McGill Daily,
    Ex-Libris is closing in a month or so (though going
    to a web-only format). Footnotes on Mckay isn’t on the
    list, but it too has apparently closed. Rents going up.

    In the old days, people would keep lists of such
    things, but I remember finding one list about 12 years
    ago and it was already out of date. Any time more
    recently that I’ve come across the list, it hadn’t been
    updated. I don’t go into used book stores the way I used to,
    so it seems silly to try to keep a list, especially since one
    ought to critique the stores, rather than just a listing. Other
    people have tried to at least review some used book stores, but
    they end up being incomplete too.

    The trick is to bypass the middleman, and go to the used
    book sales yourself. That I do keep track of, Of course, the fall cluster
    is pretty much finished at this point.

    Buying used books for 32 years, one thing I’m really noticing
    is how pocket size books are fading. This was reinforced by
    a recent documentary on PBS, “Paperback Dreams” about legendary
    bookstores Cody’s and Keppler’s in California. They, like
    City Lights Books and others, started as paperback only stores, at
    a time when paperbacks were just taking off. You used to be
    able to get everything in pocket size paperbacks, Joan Baez’s
    first autobiography, books about model rocketry, all those
    Golden pocket guides, John Holt’s various books about learning
    and education (including a passing reference to Bill Ayers before
    he became notorious), someone’s account of Freedom Summer,
    Che’s diary when it was recovered, a guide to new tv programs
    of 1970, The Pentagon Papers, everything. Pretty instant
    publishing, and treated maybe as a throwaway, yet because they
    weren’t in magazine form they still survive decades later. You
    could even get a book that showed how to set up a reading program
    using all those cheap paperbacks, itself published in a mass
    pocketsize paperback. Some would be published in hardcover first,
    some would go directly to paperback. They were cheap, and portable.
    You could learn a lot from them, and decades later some are snapshots
    of the period, like that collection of articles from underground
    papers I got a couple of years ago that likely distributed the articles
    wider than the original newspapers, and freeze history at the time of

    And less and less of them are appearing at used book sales, disappearing
    through attrition, yet never replaced in more recent years, as
    the publishers move to trade paperback format. It’s not the
    same thing, not as easy to handle and less populist. It gives
    the appearance of moving such things out of ordinary life. If you could
    get an introduction to some field of science for fifty cents, and then
    carry it around in your back pocket, how out of the ordinary could
    that science actually be? Would “On the Road” or “The Dharma Bums”
    be as popular if they’d only been in hardcover, or at the very most
    paperback in large format? I don’t think so.


  5. A public service indeed, and already attracting updates. Hope you can keep this list going.

  6. Actually, I just checked. Ranked # 3 on and #2 on

    I hope it helps those stores sell some books!

  7. Just remember, before recoiling too far in horror, used book stores are able to scour around and get those out of print and lost books you were looking for. They’re also neat places to look around in. Sales come and go, and it’s not the same thing (you get whatever people happen to leave behind — there’s no selection going on, which is what a good used and rare bookseller can do.). I’m biased, of course, because I worked in a store (Welch’s) for five years. It didn’t get into my blood, though.

  8. The Word is there. Third from the bottom. In fact, it’s marked as a personal favorite. But there was no link, which is why you might have missed it. So I’ve added a link (to a story about the store), even though they don’t have a Web site.

  9. I don’t see the Concordia Co-Op bookstore. A fine library indeed! Both new & used.
    I went in there yesterday. Had some nice conversations with booksellers. Also, they had been tabling in C’dia’s main building, and a book (about sexy knitting) caught my eye — I wanted to buy it then & there, but they didn’t accept $ at the stand… so — this is the wonderful thing — they TRUSTED ME to take the book to the bookstore, which is located a few streets over, and pay for it there! What wonderful people!

    Here’s a pre-written blurb about it:
    Concordia Co-op Bookstore is where you will find many things – including literature and DVDs that go hand-in-hand with films being screened during this years Cinema Politica screenings. We encourage all independent thought and critical debate. We also encourage independent media in all shapes and sizes. If you have a film, book or CD that you would like to share, we would love for you to bring it to us – come place it on consignment, and we will sell it for you. Call or come to the store for more information! A lifetime membership costs $10 and grants you 20% off the price of books. Location: 2150 Bishop Street, near the Hall Building. Hours: Monday – Friday : 10am – 6pm. Telephone: 514-848-7474. Email: info AT co-op bookstore DOT ca.

    More info here:

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