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Winnipeg’s Aqua Books to close its doors

Photo courtesy Aqua Books

One of Winnipeg’s largest second-hand bookstores, Aqua Books, is closing.

CBC reports that Aqua, which stocks 40,000 books in a 9,000-square-foot space, will close in the next couple of weeks. In addition to the bookstore, Aqua also houses a restaurant run by owner Kelly Hughes’ wife, Candace, writers’ studios, and a performance venue. Hughes told CBC in an e-mail: “Candace and I are, quite honestly, pretty devastated to announce that the doors of Aqua Books and EAT! bistro will be closing forever. We’ve had a great ride, but unfortunately the financial burden has become too much.”

Hughes blamed the decision on a “cultural shift away from reading. Smart phones, Facebook, and the Internet are all part of what has replaced reading time. I won’t beat it to death, but it’s an irreversible change in people’s habits.”

In a July/August 2011 interview, Hughes told Q&Q that although Aqua had expanded to include non-literary attractions, books would remain the core of his business. “Everybody loves the idea of a bookstore,” he said, “but they don’t love bookstores enough to keep it going.”