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Changing of the guard at local bookstore

A local family bookstore is getting a bit more familial
Barry Bailey, left, and his daughter and new business partner, Lisa, right. JACK FARRELL/St. Albert Gazette

A local family bookstore is getting a bit more familial.

Barry Bailey, the owner of Bailey Books in Riel Business Park, is going into business with his youngest daughter, Lisa, both because it's been a long-time plan for the family, but also to revamp the store's offerings as the Baileys have committed to a long-term stay in their Riel location.

Bailey Books is approaching its 21st year in business. In the past it has largely operated as an online store for collectors of rare, signed, and otherwise unique books of all sorts of genres, with Barry also offering leather and non-leather book binding and repair services.

With Lisa now on-board, the Baileys said their goal is to create more of a community space for book lovers.

“Dad's books kind of cater towards collectors, and my interest lies more in the hobby reader,” Lisa said. “I really want to bring in more (Young Adult) stuff, I want to bring in more fantasy or sci-fi, (and) more horror.”

“Hopefully if we bring in some stuff that's more in that lane, it'll just diversify our customer base.”

Lisa said she's thinking of events the store could host in months ahead, such as a recurring book-club, book signings and local author appearances, and possibly a Dungeons and Dragons group.

“(We just want to) make it a place where people want to come and hang out and meet people,” she said. “We all have that shared love of books regardless of where it's coming from, it's just a nice kinship to have with the customer.”

For Barry, who said the store has been his baby since he opened it, giving up total creative control has been a “roller-coaster.”

“It's a whole different kind of shift for how I've been approaching the book business,” he said, joking that the store having regular hours moving forward might mean he has to give up his afternoon naps.

“It's an exciting change actually — I have been like a hermit in here the past three years.”

Aiding the Bailey's momentum to change the store has been some TikTok virality, as a video posted on the platform by Lisa on Oct. 18 was viewed over 40,000 times in just 48 hours.

In the video, Lisa describes her father's book binding skills. That generated a few hundred comments from people here and beyond, expressing a desire to have their own writing be bound in book form, or have their favourite non-conventional books bound for the first time.

“Almost all the comments asking about bookbinding are saying, ‘I want my favourite (fan-fiction) bound! Will you bind a (fan-fiction) for me?’” Lisa said.

Fan-fiction, as the name suggests, are works of fiction that generally use existing famous characters, or even real celebrities, to create new tales. While fan-fiction is found online and read for free on platforms such as Wattpad, some of the most successful books and book-series of the past 20 years were originally produced as fan-fiction. That includes E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey series, which was based on the characters Edward and Bella from the Twilight series.

“So many people want their favourite (fan-fiction) bound so that they can physically read it and not read it off their computer,” Lisa said. “I think there's a huge

Binding fan-fiction may be a new venture for Barry, who said people usually come to him asking to have Bibles, cookbooks, or copies of Harry Potter re-bound.

“For me coming here is a joy, it's not like a job or a chore or anything,” Barry said.

The Baileys said they're still deciding what the store's regular hours will be moving forward, but those interested can visit the website:, or follow the store's Instagram account: baileybookman.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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