Black Bond Books is closing a chapter in its lengthy history in Langley.
After nearly four decades, Black Bond Books, on Willowbrook Drive, is closing its doors for good.
President Cathy Jesson said she is having a hard time reading to the end of her Langley bookstore’s story but she accepts that it is the end. Jesson has nine other bookstores that are thriving but Langley “was a hard market” surrounded by big box stores and in a tough location.”
She now looks fondly on all the memories and loyal readers and staff she has met over the years.
Jesson said she gets really emotional when she thinks about closing the bookstore in Langley.
“It’s hard for me to be there. I get emotional. It’s more than a business, it’s about relationships,” said the Jesson.
Jesson brought the family business Black Bond Books from Manitoba to the Coast some 40 years ago, opening her first Black Bond Books in White Rock.
Her second one to open was in Langley at the Langley Mall. This was the days before Chapters, E-readers and the internet. When book was queen and avid readers pre-ordered books and lined up for the latest bestsellers. Jesson moved from the Langley Mall to Willowbrook Shopping Centre and then onto Langley Bypass, beside the then A&B Sound.
“That was a great location where people could go browse music and then browse books. But then the overpass came in.”
So Jesson moved to its current location at Willowtree Plaza, across from the mall.
Recently, a woman came into the store to give Jesson a Black Bond bookmark she had found in one of her books that was 32 years old. On the bookmark, it listed five of her stores.
Since then, Jesson and her daughter Caitlin have created 10 bookstores, making Black Bond Books the largest independent book store company in Canada.
Jesson has more than 100 employees and is ranked one of the top female business persons in B.C.
Black Bond Books has stores in South Surrey, White Rock, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Ladner, North Vancouver, Richmond and a few years ago bought the Book Warehouse on Broadway, saving the historic bookstore from closing for good.
“The owner was retiring so we bought it, cleaned it up, restocked it and we have had tremendous success with it,” she said. So much so, they opened up a new Book Warehouse on Main and King Edward two years ago.
“I probably have more opportunity than energy,” she remarks.
Books are not dead, contrary to what a few believe.
“People have come back to books,” she said. “People appreciate having a bookstore in their neighbourhood.”
And here is another hopeful sign.
“We have huge readership in the early teens. When there is a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book we bring in 400 copies of it and we have 500 kids wanting the hard cover, to collect and to read.”
But hard cover books for adults is a much harder sell. Black Bond Books doesn’t focus on those so much anymore. Although, bestsellers like Girl on the Train continue to sell out, even two years after its first release.
She’s always believed in community. In 2015, Black Bond Books donated 1,000 new books to Douglas Park Community School after hearing that it lost out on a contest to receive new books. In that situation the inner-city school did win the contest but lost out on a technicality.
Before Black Bond Books Langley closes its doors for good it is having a blow out sale. Black Bond Books is located at 19653 Willowbrook Drive.