5 questions with Michael Erickson

Bookstores are an important part of any community: they can make your town richer and they're a great community hub. Perhaps this is even more true for bookstores that serve marginalized communities.

Enter Glad Day Bookshop. Not only is Glad Day "the world's oldest surviving LGBTQ bookstore but [it's] also Toronto's oldest surviving bookstore." Established in 1970, this bookstore, now located in the heart of The Village in Toronto, was the first of its kind in Canada. It stocks books by and for the LGBTQ community and also functions as a flexible space in the neighbourhood — it's also a bar, coffee shop, and restaurant with dance parties on the weekend. 

Co-owner of Glad Day Bookshop, Michael Erickson, agreed to answer our bookseller questionnaire in this instalment of our series, 5 questions with:

1. Which author would you most like to have for an event in your store (living or dead)?

Audre Lorde.

2. What attracted you to bookselling?

The chance to build community, creativity, and possibility while also making sure that our stories are not lost, distorted, or silenced. 

3. What's your favourite bookselling war story?

In 2012, a group of us bought Glad Day Bookshop to save the world's oldest LGBTQ bookstore, which has now become Toronto's longest surviving bookstore of any kind ... and we've been losing money ever since! Even though we increased book sales by 30% during the rise of the ebook, it still wasn't enough for us to break even. Instead of downsizing or closing we decided to expand — we moved to a larger space, with coffee, cocktails, and food, surrounded by books. We now host over 75 events a month and are a hub of conversation and community. Wars are long, with many battles and many losses, with changes in tactics, technology, and battlefields. That's why I feel like this long story arc is more like a real war story than anything that happens in the moment.

"In 2012, a group of us bought Glad Day Bookshop to save the world's oldest LGBTQ bookstore." Michael Erickson, co-owner of @GDBooks talks about his favourite bookselling war story.

4. What is the most pressing issue facing bookselling today?

Rising costs for independent retailers. In Toronto that mostly means rent, but all our other costs continue to increase while the percentage we can make on books has remained stagnant for us (while at the same time giving certain mega-sellers massive discounts) with publishers still determining the retail price of books (and printing them on the cover), while every other retail business has more flexibility with pricing and supply costs. 

5. What forthcoming book are you most excited about?

Arielle Twist's Disintergrate/Dissociate, which continues both the Indigenous cultural renaissance and LGBTQ literary excellence we're experiencing in Canada right now.

BONUS: An aunt comes in looking for a gift for her niece, who likes embroidery and Proust, just got a new job on a cruise line, and whose beloved schnauzer just passed away. What do you recommend?  

Easy: All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor. The protagonist is a bisexual, feisty woman who works at an all-inclusive resort (cruise line), and the book uses flashbacks and distorted time (Proust) to weave a complex story (embroidery) of her relationship to the ghost of her dead father (schnauzer) in a way this is both serious and playful. 

Well pulled-together! Thanks for taking the time to answer all of our questions.

Find all of our bookseller responses to this questionnaire here.