Halifax’s backyard economy shows signs of going legit.

Posted on February 20, 2013 | Atlantic Business Magazine | 0 Comments

Farewell to an icon
Atlantic literary community loses champion

Publishers, authors and book lovers throughout the Maritimes are mourning the sudden loss of independent book store owner Rodney Jones, 66. The respected businessman died of heart failure on January 7.

Jones’ bookstores (Bookmark, opened in Charlottetown in 1972; and Bookmark II, opened in Halifax in 1989) were meccas for those seeking regional titles. He also played a significant role in developing Charlottetown’s Victoria Row, home to his Café Diem Restaurant, as well as other popular restaurants, art galleries and craft stores.

Jones left a considerable legacy for a man who claimed on his website that his bookstores “began with a pregnant new wife and a guy’s need to stop roaming the world and find a way to support a new family.”

Prince Edward Island book publishers say Jones made their businesses possible.

“To be a book publisher for a market that’s a quarter the size of Halifax requires an independent bookseller. I couldn’t have begun the business without Rodney’s good help,” said Libby Oughton, former publisher of P.E.I.’s Ragweed Press, during a radio interview on CBC’s Island Morning.

Jones’ prominent displays of Maritime titles, knowledge of customer preferences and recommendations of books to undecided readers were potent methods of raising awareness about local writers, according to Oughton and Laurie Brinklow, former publisher of Acorn Press.

Present Acorn Press publisher Terrilee Bulger agrees.

“It is rare to find booksellers who take such an interest in authors and publishers. The book world will miss him immensely,” she said in the Guardian.

The bookstores will remain open. Café Diem, a summer-only restaurant, is under new management.

By Laurie McBurney

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