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Independent, brick-and-mortar ... still standing: a shout-out to Hager Books

Established the year Richard Nixon resigned and ABBA first hit the pop charts, Vancouver's Hager Books has beaten all the odds for businesses of its kind.


The service is friendly and efficient; the space is small(ish) but well-stocked (and if they don't have what you're looking for, they'll order it in, often in less time than it would take the Amazon truck to arrive at your door).


As befits a business that focuses on hard-copy books and face-to-face service, Hager's website is basic. While they could certainly add content to the site (a bookish blog? lists of staff favourites?), the essentials are there.


And, as further befits a literary enterprise, the short text on the home page is, on the whole, clearly and gracefully written. I spotted only one glitch: a misplaced modifier.


It's in this sentence:


"We have the latest releases, but if what you are looking for is not in stock, then we can pretty well order anything you want that's still in print and usually get it quickly."


The phrase "pretty well" is a colloquial/casual version of "almost"—which is fine—but the placement of the phrase is incorrect. The word being modified (or described) should be "anything" (i.e. We can order almost anything you want). However, the structure of the sentence suggests that "pretty well" modifies "order" (i.e. We can almost order anything you want) — which doesn't make sense.


Here's a revision:


"We have the latest releases, but if what you are looking for is not in stock, then we can order pretty well anything you want that's still in print and usually get it quickly."


Since Hager Books carries more than just "the latest releases," I would further tweak the opening of this passage:


"We have the latest releases and a good selection of older material. If what you're looking for is not in stock, then we can order pretty well anything you want that's still in print and usually get it quickly."


On that note, if you're near the Kerrisdale neighbourhood of Vancouver and are shopping for books, Hager is a very deserving recipient of your support!


Photo: Librarything.com

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