A round black table photographed from above with books displayed.

A table display at the Chapters in Vancouver. Photo © Ruth Hartnup, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Map of Vancouver, BC


Per capita, residents of Vancouver buy more books than the residents of any other North American city. Like everywhere else on the continent, more and more books are bought online or at big box retailers—and as a result independent bookstores have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Remaining independents include Blackberry Books (1666 Johnston St., 604/685-6188, 10am-7pm daily), stocking touristy-type coffee-table books and a wide range of western Canadiana.

The Canadian bookstore giant Chapters has multiple Vancouver stores (788 Robson St. at Howe St., 604/682-4066; south of False Creek at 2505 Granville St. at Broadway, 604/731-7822; and in major shopping centers such as Burnaby’s Metrotown), each stocking more than 100,000 titles. All have public-accessible computers to help search out particular subjects, authors, or titles; a large collection of local and Canadian fiction and nonfiction; an extensive newsstand; discounted books; and an in-house Starbucks coffeehouse.

Vancouver Kidsbooks (three locations, including 3083 W. Broadway, 604/738-5335, 9:30am-6pm Mon.-Sat., 11am-6pm Sun.) offers a lot more than just books for kids. There are daily book talks and readings as well as puppet shows and puppets for sale.

UBC Bookstore

Until Chapters began opening its megastores across the city, the bookstore on the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC, 6200 University Blvd. at Westbrook Mall, 604/822-2665, 9:30am-5pm Mon.-Fri., 11am-5pm Sat.), held Vancouver’s largest stock of books. With almost 100,000 titles, it is still an impressive place to browse. Books on just about every subject imaginable are stocked, and the staff can lay their hands on requested titles very quickly.

Travel Bookstores

Vancouver has three excellent bookstores specializing in travel-related literature; two are close to each other in the area between Granville Island and Point Grey. Wanderlust (west of Cypress St. at 1929 W. 4th Ave., Kitsilano, 604/739-2182, 10am-7pm Mon.-Fri., 10am-6pm Sat.) stocks general travel guides, maps, atlases, and a range of travel accessories. Farther west is The Travel Bug (3065 W. Broadway, 604/737-1122, 10am-6pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun.), with an equally impressive collection of travel guides as well as more regional titles than you ever imagined existed. The owners at both of these bookstores are knowledgeable about the pros and cons of the various guidebook series, so they are a good source of information about which books are best suited to your needs and interests. If you like maps, you’ll love International Travel Maps and Books (12300 Bridgeport Rd., Richmond, 604/273-1400, 9:30am-5pm Mon.-Sat.), one of the world’s most prolific cartography companies, whose title list includes over 400 maps covering offbeat destinations. Their Vancouver store is part bookstore, part distributor, part publisher.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Vancouver & Victoria.