Afterwords in St. John's closes the book on 45-year history

Afterwords bookstore, which opened in downtown St. John's in 1972, posted a sign in the window this week saying it could no longer stay open.

Customers say they're sad that the downtown store indicates it is closed for good

Afterwords Used Bookstore was started by Don Austin and brothers John and Jim Furlong in 1972. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

Another long-standing fixture in the downtown area of St. John's has closed its doors. 

"We have tried to keep Afterwords [Used Bookstore] going to serve our community and support our family. In the end, we can do neither. Good-bye," read a sign posted in the window of the book store on Duckworth Street. 

"I'm not surprised, but it's a sad day," said Robin Harnum who said he has shopped there in the past. 

"It's a small guy gone, and he did employ people."

Robin Harnum says he was a regular customer at the bookstore since it opened four decades ago. (Fred Hutton/CBC )

In the era of e-readers and the Internet, publishers and bookstores have been struggling in recent years. 

"It will be missed. I don't use online books, but I can see that being part of the reason for this happening," customer Wendy Sherran told CBC on Friday. 

Long history

Afterwords Used Bookstore was founded in 1972 by Don Austin and brothers Jim and John Furlong. Since then, ownership has changed hands a number of times, with David Benson as the current owner and Jim Furlong still holding minority shares in the company. 

The origin of the shop's name is as interesting as some of the titles in the aisles of the legendary bookstore. 

David Benson is the current owner of Afterwords. (Paula Gale/CBC)

"We took over the location where Waterford Flowers had its business," Furlong said.

"That business had raised wooden letters on the building so we took them down, threw them on the living room floor and came up with Afterwords."

Buy local

Afterwords is the latest in a long list of well-known businesses in the downtown area to close up shop. In the last couple of years, Templeton's and Ballistic were among the casualties.

"I think it's up to the people of St. John's to get out and purchase locally," said Sherran. 

For Harnum, who had his eye on two books in the display window, this is part of a bigger problem — beyond the shores of this province.

"I think it's another example of the demise of small enterprise in Newfoundland, and Canada generally," he said, with a sigh and a shrug.

About the Author

Fred Hutton

CBC News

Fred Hutton co-hosts the St. John's Morning Show, and contributes to Here & Now and CBC N.L.'s digital platforms.