Ben McNally knows books and knows readers. He’s been putting the two together in intriguing and sometimes surprising ways since 1970, most recently at his beautiful Bay Street store in Toronto, Ben McNally Books, and in the fabulously successful Books and Brunch series that he runs in partnership with The Globe and Mail at the King Edward Hotel.

Many people warned Ben that a Bay Street bookstore would surely fail. But he proved them wrong. His vast knowledge, his independent taste, and his uncannily astute recommendations have ensured the store’s success.

Ben is a huge supporter of emerging talent and he is not afraid to stock unusual books, books you won’t find anywhere else. “I’d rather have a book that sells one copy that no one else will sell than to stock several best sellers you can get anywhere,” he says. “That’s what makes this store. That’s why people come.”

Ben’s warmth and genuine enthusiasm for books have made him a favourite with many Canadian authors, and with many more Canadian readers. He is the official bookseller for the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, and the President of Project Bookmark Canada, a charitable organization that erects physical markers bearing excerpts from Canadian books in the locations that inspired the writing.