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Montreal music bookstore owner gives honest book reviews...on post-its

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Like many during the pandemic, Jean Lavigne lost his business.

Unlike many, at that moment, the then-55-year-old thought, "This would be a great time to open a bookstore."

And so he did -- with the support of his wife, of course.

"I operated a bed and breakfast for 12 years," Lavigne tells CTV News. "During the pandemic, everything stopped and I was in front of choice at 55 years old: OK, what am I going to do with the rest of my life? Not knowing how things were going to work out."

Lavigne says he knew that if he didn't take a leap of faith now, he probably never would.

"My wife said, 'Listen, if you don't take this space, if you don't rent the space, it's because you don't have the guts to go ahead and do it,'" he recalls. "And I said, 'Well, OK, well, let's go.'"

In November 2021, Librairie Résonance, a bookstore dedicated to music books, opened its doors for the first time.

"I've always said that my best job ever was my first job working in a record store when I was 17, 18, 19," Lavigne said. "When it was time to open a bookstore, I said, 'Well, I love that environment of music...' And I said, 'Well, I think it could work.'"

Librairie Résonance bookstore owner Jean Lavigne leaves post-its with his honest reviews on each book. (Jean Lavigne)

Lavigne, who hails from Aylmer, Que., says when he first opened his store, he was very conscious of the different types of shoppers he could meet.

"I don't want to be that person that tries to sell, push or whatever," he said. "I know, personally, when I go into a bookstore, I like to be left alone just to browse."

That's when he came up with the idea of leaving little post-its on each book.

"I just want to communicate with them, tell them, 'Oh that was really good,' 'This I enjoyed,' 'This one I didn't like all that much,'" he said. "I say, you know, 'I didn't quite like it, asked me why.' It's a good way also to engage and then I can say, 'I didn't necessarily like it. But if you're into this kind of book, then I'm sure you'd like this kind of book much better.'"

Librairie Résonance bookstore owner Jean Lavigne leaves post-its with his honest reviews on each book. (Jean Lavigne)

The former teacher says he's as honest as possible on his post-its, and his customers often leave him humbled.

"I think it's just positive that a person comes out with a book that's good for them," he said. "It's really my clientele that tell me which books to buy because they're so knowledgeable."

Lavigne admits he hasn't read every single book in his store -- yet -- but he's working on it.

"Before opening the store, I would read about everything...which I think is probably the first quality of a bookstore owner. You have to be curious and be able to talk about anything with customers," he said. "When I first opened, I felt like an impostor because some people come in here and know so much more about music books and music in general... I thought I was into music but it's just crazy how some people are really into music, which is pretty cool."

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