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The Brantford Bookworm continues to resonate with local readership  

BusinessThe Brantford Bookworm continues to resonate with local readership  

Since taking over ownership of the Brantford Bookworm in 2016, Kerry Besta and her son Kyle have been dedicated to continuing the tradition of bringing a world of books to the Brant County community.  

Besta explained how the purchase of the Bookworm came about.

“My son and I are both big readers.  It was just a perfect fit for us because we went to that Bookworm and bought books. One day, we found out that they were closing. [I was given] a name and number and then we just made a deal,” said Besta.

Kerry Besta, the owner of the Brantford Bookworm, has always had a passion for reading and has always loved books. Besta noted that it was a natural step in purchasing the book store when the opportunity presented itself! Photo courtesy The Brantford Bookworm.

The Brantford Bookworm was opened in 1980 and has remained at the 331 Brant Ave location ever since; being under two previous owners until Besta took it over.  However, Besta, who worked at a local grocery store before taking the plunge and buying the Bookworm, had her work cut out.

“We had a lot of cleaning up to do when we first took over the store. It was a little bit rough [and] we decided to bring in a lot more books and get things up to date…the kid’s/ young adult’s section was very sparse and very unorganized…so we built it up; stocking newer series like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Percy Jackson,” Besta continued. “Believe it or not Western novels were popular so we built that up too; we have had customers coming in every week to get their five or six Westerns. Now we have a very large selection of Westerns. We’ve been very lucky that we have a good client base that comes in regularly and is very loyal.”

When Besta took over The Brantford Bookworm in 2016, she focused on growing the children’s book section. Photo courtesy Kerry Besta.

However, Besta, fueled by her passion for books, continues to thrive in managing one of only a handful of independent bookstores in Brant County while making an effort to promote local authors. 

“We’ve had lots of local authors just come in and sell their books like right at the store or sign books. Sometimes local authors call in and [and] we’ll usually take one or two of their books to start with. And then if there’s a big interest we’ll call up and ask for more books,” she explained. “We have had a local author (Thom Ryerson) [who] did a three-part series on the Brantford music industry called the ‘That Brant County Sound!’ Most people didn’t realize there was a big local [country] music scene here as well as a recording studio on Colborne Street.”

The Brantford Bookworm has featured many local authors throughout the years including Wayne McGuiness. McGuiness is pictured here promoting his book ‘Cycle of Hope’ highlighting his cycling journey across Canada raising money for cancer, mental health, and diabetics. Photo courtesy Kerry Besta.

However, while Besta continues to carry a big selection of books across many different genres including mystery, popular fiction, history, cookbooks, fantasy, science fiction, Manga, and historical fiction, one of the keys to thriving is continually keeping up with what customers want.

“It seems like every two years [reader’s tastes] change…the vampire thing was hot for the longest time as well as the paranormal romance [and] everything paranormal was popular. And now women mystery writers seem to be very popular right now like Colleen Hoover,” Besta explained. “But authors like James Patterson and John Grisham are always popular with readers because they write bestsellers and everyone wants their newest books when they come out.”

The Brantford Bookworm has been actively involved in many initiatives including selling items by Little Boxes Plus to raise money for Stedman’s Hospice here in Brantford. The Bookworm also sponsored a kids hockey team in 2019 as well as donating books to the Brantford General Hospital Book Sale. Photo courtesy Kerry Besta.

As well, The Brantford Bookworm has offered opportunities for people to bring their used books and find others that they want.  

“They can donate books or they can bring in books and if we can take them, we will give them store credit they can use towards their next purchase. It brings the price down and provides great value for purchasing books,” said Besta.

Another local author, Jeremy Woodley, is pictured here promoting his book ‘Jesus and the Beatles’ which is about his struggles with addiction. Photo courtesy Kerry Besta.

Besta also noted that The Brantford Bookworm is focused on giving back to the community through various initiatives.

“We donate a lot of books…we have a couple of retirement homes that we worked with, and we have dropped off books at schools as well. We also save up and donate around 20 boxes of books for the Brantford General Hospital book sale every year,” said Besta. “We’ve also sponsored a local hockey team in the past and we are always looking for different things to support.”

The Brantford Bookworm carries many books across various genres. Besta has made it a major focus to continually bring in books that resonate with readers as well as help them find books that they are looking for even if they don’t carry them. Photo courtesy Kerry Besta.
Here are several books by local authors on display at The Brantford Bookworm. Photo courtesy Kerry Besta.

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