Pages UnBound has its roots in Pages Books & Magazines, a bookstore opened by Marc Glassman in 1979 at 256 Queen Street West. At the time, there were one or two cafes and restaurants on the street along with used furniture stores, office equipment suppliers, and appliance repair shops. Within a few years, the area became Toronto's coolest neighbourhood, home to artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, designers, and the generally hip.
Pages became a community centre for all of them, with Glassman leading the formation of a Business Improvement Association that produced two street festivals in the early 1980s.
Pages hosted hundreds of book launches in neighbourhood cafes, art galleries and film theatres as well as in its own store, and its art window was a launching pad for dozens of exciting artists in the 1980s, '90s and 2000s. At its heart was the city's best selection of books, which ranged across all genres, from art to cookbooks, but specialized in small press and cultural theory, reflecting its commitment to adventurous literature and social movements.
The store expanded twice, from 1000 square feet to 2400 square feet in 1983 and then again to 4100 square feet in 1998, before closing in 2009.
Founded in 2003, This Is Not A Reading Series (TINARS) was a programme designed to investigate the creative process involved in the conception and development of literature. With the series’ foundational principle that writers not read from their texts, the series moved quickly to embrace all artistic disciplines in order to understand and illuminate the paradoxically hermetic and communal process of writing.
As the original TINARS Manifesto stated, “This is music, movies, performance art, interviews, sculpture, photography, puppetry, acrobatics, comedy, webcasting, dancing… and a whole lot of other stuff!”
Under this rubric, TINARS hosted some of the best authors and artists in Canada. Highlights—and there were dozens—included a concert by Broken Social Scene with writer/performer Ibi Kaslik; acrobatics performed by Amanda and Joseph Boyden; contemporary dance chosen by Serge Bennathan for Ann Marie Fleming; a conversation between Thomas King and Margaret Atwood; illicit sonnets by George Elliott Clarke, now Canada’s poet laureate, paired with a dance performance; pop-culture historian Liz Worth in conversation with Polaris Prize-winning musician Damian Abraham, bookended by performances by punk bands; gambling, cabaret music, and a live burlesque show by Skin Tight Outta Sight to celebrate Lisa Pasold’s Rats of Las Vegas; a performance of excerpts from Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; music and literary events by Paul Quarrington; food, drink, and talk about the Coach House Press anthology The Edible City; and much, much more.
TINARS was voted Toronto's Best Reading Series by NOW readers in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the programme was re-branded as the Pages UnBound Series, under which name it again won Best Reading Series.
Pages UnBound carries on the legacies of Pages Books & Magazines and TINARS. We are dedicated to the same principles that Pages stood for—creativity, progressivism, community—while redoubling our commitment to both The Book and The Event. As such, every Pages UnBound event is a singular experience—part entertainment, part education. Whether it's a chamber play, a multimedia opera, a concert, a presentation or a sui generis creation, we work with artists to take their writing off the page into the immediacy of the moment.