Clive and Christine Tanner stand in the midst of some of the 50,000 volumes they had to move when the Military and history bookstore was forced to close its doors. (Tim Collins/New staff)

Moving Sidney’s Military Bookstore a Herculean task

It was the year that man first set foot on the moon, Led Zeppelin released their first album and Richard Nixon became President. 1969 was also the year that Clive and Christine Tanner opened their first bookstore.

“I’d gone up to the Yukon on a sales trip and my wife, Christine, who has always been an avid reader, told me we should become booksellers. We bought a bookstore and stayed there for about 12 years before coming to Sidney. We’d come here on a visit and thought it was quite nice, you see,” explained Tanner.

After coming to Sidney the Tanners proceeded to open a bookstore on Beacon Avenue that still bears their name. They sold that shop but, over the years they have opened and operated a series of other bookshops. Sidney eventually became known as Booktown.

Perhaps the most fascinating of those bookstores, and one Clive took particular pride in operating, was the Military and History Bookshop on Fourth Street.

Now that shop has been forced to close as development along Fourth (Street) resulted in the loss of the lease for the property.

“History is important. If more people read and understood history we might not have some of the political thrashing about that we see today,” observed Tanner.

He said that the focus of his bookstore was particularly relevant to Sidney given the large number of military veterans living in the community. It made closing the shop even more disheartening, but Tanner stresses the material in that shop will continue to be available.

“I was sad to have to close the doors, but we’ve moved the entire inventory and will be operating out of this shop instead,” explained Tanner, gesturing at the multitude of shelves in the back of Beacon Books on Beacon Avenue, one of the other Sidney bookstores owed by the couple.

“We only had about 900 square feet in the old shop (Military and History Bookshop) so I didn’t think it would be too hard to move it here, but I keep forgetting that books are heavy,” laughed Tanner, who at 84 years of age still carries himself with an air that leads one to believe he is more than capable of carrying his share of books.

“It turns out we had to move about 40 to 50 thousand books. That’s a lot of work,” said Tanner, adding that they first moved the inventory to a garage where they are sorting the books before bringing them to Beacon Books.

Christine Tanner smiled as she surveyed the new additions to the shop she manages.

“We love books, obviously, but as a bookseller you don’t often have enough time to read. Used and antique books are a difficult business. You have to have a good foundation in books and be able to recognize their value as first editions, signed volumes … it’s almost like being an art dealer,” said Christine.

She added that another challenge facing booksellers is rooted in technology.

“A lot of the sales of books, particularly used books, occurs online. We list all of our best volumes and do a lot of business there.”

Clive pointed out that the couple has been involved with online sales since the beginning and used the Vancouver Island tech firm of ABEBooks long before that firm was purchased by the giant, Amazon.

“It doesn’t matter to me how we sell our books, only that people read, and learn and have their lives enriched. It’s why we’re in this business,” he said.

Just Posted

School district launches survey for George Jay Elementary name change

The Greater Victoria School District wants to take public cues before decisions are made

Greater Victoria developer rushes to demolish historic wall before Oak Bay applies heritage permit

Abstract Development punches holes in one of Oak Bay’s oldest stone walls

$775-million wastewater project on track to be completed on time, within new budget

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins praises public education aspect of project

With $4M investment, Camosun College offers first sonography program on Vancouver Island

Starting in May 2020 students from Vancouver Island can pursue a career in sonography

New accessible playground opens at View Royal’s Eagle View Elementary School

Students overjoyed while faculty and parents feel relief

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Elizabeth May confirms plan to eliminate fish farming in open ocean pens

Green Party leader stops in Qualicum Beach as part of Island campaign

STRIKE: WFP and USW are back at the table for mediation

“No further updates until either an agreement is reached or one party or the other breaks off talks”

Green Party leader Elizabeth May rolls through Vancouver Island to boost a party stronghold

Mocks media, evokes Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and promises change

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

Most Read