It’s no secret that the last 40 years have seen the book industry grow and change in dramatic ways, and Bolen Books has grown and changed along with it. Since we first opened our doors in the winter of 1975, the store has moved through four different locations within Victoria’s Hillside Centre and grown by over 10,000 square feet, arriving at its current location - featuring an independent storefront and two mall entrances - in 1996. In 2013, a dramatic renovation saw our decor modernized leading up to our 4th decade of operations.
Now at almost 20,000 square feet, Bolen Books is the largest single-location independent bookstore in Western Canada. We are a general interest bookstore with large sections dedicated to kids' books, science fiction, cooking, travel, fiction & mystery. On our shelves are an ever-changing assortment of over 30,000 titles by some of today’s biggest authors, as well as up-and-coming names, self published authors, and more, from Canada and around the world. But our store doesn’t stop at the books. We also boast one of Victoria’s most popular selection of puzzles and board games. Our carefully selected puzzle and game titles, just like our book titles, come from right here in Victoria, BC, as well as an ever changing roster of national and international wholesalers.
Bolen Books is pleased that Victorians have recognized our hard work & demand for excellence by regularly voting us the #1 bookstore in the city. We have also been nominated Bookseller of the Year by the Canadian Booksellers Association multiple times, and are proud to say we won the award in 1996 and 2007.
Top left: our storefront in our current location in 1996.
Top right: interior shot from the early 80s.
Bottom left: our recently renovated storefront at Hillside Centre.
Bottom right: our recently renovated store interior.
Our author signing and reading series are nationally known. Among the ranks of those who have visited our store include Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, comedy legend John Cleese, home-design guru Sarah Richardson, literary superstar Michael Ondaatje, environmental activist David Suzuki, Anne Rice, David Sedaris, Farley Mowat, Margaret Atwood, Diana Gabaldon, John Kabat-Zinn, Edward Rutherfurd, Salman Rushdie, Wayne Johnson, Preston Manning, John Vaillant, and literally hundreds of others. Check out a full list of upcoming authors on our Events page.
Top left: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield signs copies of his debut book at Bolen Books in 2013.
Top Right: Ami McKay reads from her 2017 novel, The Witches of New York.
Bottom left: Local authors Kayleen Vanderree, Danielle Gumbley and their adventure cats present Bolt and Keel in 2017.
Bottom Right: Salman Rushdie signs copies of The Golden House at the Alix Goolden Hall in 2017.
Bolen Books owner, Samantha Bolen (right) and daughter, Madeline Holmes (left)
We have more than 50 staff members trained to help with your book-buying experience, whether it is a special order request or a recommendation of a new genre. Bolen Books' staff are happy to help you during our regular hours, from 8:30 am to 9:00 pm Monday - Saturday and 10:00 am - 6:00 pm on Sundays!