More bad news — Sophia Books in Vancouver is closing it’s retail store.

Sophia Books is Vancouver’s multilingual media shop, and among the many things they carried in their diverse inventory were selections of bandes dessinées and manga. The store at 450 Hastings Street West is closing so that the company can focus on supplying books to schools, libraries and subscriptions. The retail store has been a Vancouver landmark since 1975.

Another Vancouver independent bookstore, Sophia Books, B.C.’s (and Canada’s) only multilingual bookstore is closing its Hastings St. branch at the end of May to concentrate on its School, Libraries and magazines subscription division.

Hefty rent increase and the general state of the book industry are the root causes for the closure, having combined to make an untenable environment for the independent bookseller, in a city where independent retailers are slowly disappearing

Founded in 1975 by Makoto Inoue, Sophia Books was Canada’s first Japanese bookstore. Through the 80s and 90s, it became the reference bookstore for Japanese and other Asian-related language books, art books, travel books, pop culture etc

In 1999, Inoue’s fourth daughter, Yuki, and her husband Marc Fournier (then manager of Manhattan Books, the funky multilingual branch of Duthie Books on Robson Street) took over the family business and relocated, fusioned and rebranded Sophia Books. The new Sophia Books opened on Hastings St in 2000 and blossomed into a multi-language and international cultural mecca: books, magazines & newspapers in French, Japanese, German, Spanish, Italian and, of course, English + the country’s best selection of books & magazines on Fashion, Graffiti Art and Tattoo Art. In a growing multicultural city, Sophia Books was its best multicultural ambassador.

Languages; being written, spoken, visual, wearable or musical, have always been the strength of this independent bookstore. Through their wholesale division, they have and will continue to supply multilingual materials to schools and libraries, handle mail orders and offer a unique Japanese magazine subscription service. The management and staff of Sophia Books would like to thank its customers for their support over the 35 years that the store has been in business. 35 years of loyal and cultural exchanges.

Marc Fournier