World’s Biggest Bookstore
20 Edward Street
Just north of Eaton Centre, this Indigo-Chapters affiliate has retained (some of) its indie spirit. If you go indie for the vibe more than say, the politics involved, World’s Biggest should suffice. And hey, you can use your Plum Rewards or iRewards card, just like you can at Indigo/Chapters/Coles.
We visited the store at night and were their last customers for the day (though we’ve been there many a time before). Their hours, nine to ten every day, are more generous than the average LCS. They were incredibly polite and professional about booting us out, by the way, which is always a good sign. It’s hard to maintain good service, in the face of customers who refuse to go home, because by golly, they’ve got to have the softcover of Jay-Z’s Decoded for 20% off (that was Megan).
World’s Biggest is not an LCS. It’s–as the name suggests–a bookstore, but it’s got a generous selection of comic trades (mainstream and literary) and manga. They also have a limited selection of monthly issues. However, if you’re looking for Wednesday’s latest, you might be out of luck, as they frequently don’t have the latest issues on the rack. This is a pretty typical situation for bookstores today, and there’s nothing about World’s Biggest that sets it apart as a comics retailer, outside of a larger selection, long, uncrowded shelves, and high ceilings. Unlike an LCS, World’s Biggest does not cater directly to comics nerds, so you won’t find the typical value adding deals here. No membership (outside of Indigo’s programs), no US cover prices, no preview pamphlets, and no gonzo counter staff, ready to throw down on the subject of Hulk vs. Rulk. (Probably. We’re sure there are staff who could hold their own in such a high level confab, but obviously they aren’t hired purely on the basis of their encyclopediac knowledge of Silver Age monkey comics). However, as mentioned above, you can take advantage of Indigo’s Plum Rewards, and their various deals and sales, to thereby get yourself some cheap comics.
Both the store and the staff are about what you’d expect from a chain retailer: wide aisles, organized, browseable shelves and displays, and generally friendly staff. The store is for the most part accessible, with ramps, secure handrails, direct but not oppressive lighting, and a layout that leaves room for maneuvering around corners. There are few places to sit down or rest, however. Aesthetically, the store fails to stand out in any way. It’s pretty darn bookstore bland, is what we’re saying. Likewise, the staff has been thoroughly coached on customer service, but may not be able to provide good recommendations about new and interesting comics.
World’s Biggest has the advantages and disadvantages that most big bookstores do: regular turnaround in stock, ability to special-order stock, or bring it in from other stores, lots of popular and acclaimed titles but few rare ones. We recommend it for people who haven’t yet found a LCS that works for them, people who have a good idea of what comics they’re interested in picking up, and deal-seekers.