After more than four decades of playing a vital part in the Vancouver bookselling community, Duthie Books Ltd. has filed for protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

"After 42 years as a family business, Duthie Books is undergoing a process of planning and reorganization to ensure our loyal customers continue to receive the highest level of personal service and quality books at competitive prices," Celia Duthie, president of Duthie Books said in a press release.

Among Duthie's biggest creditors are several prominent Canadian publishers. The new Random House of Canada, which includes Bantam Books, has the highest outstanding bill, at approximately C$300,000. HarperCollins Canada said it is owed at least C$176,705, while Prentice Hall claims approximately C$80,000.

Duthie Books, opened by Bill Duthie in 1957, was taken over by his daughter Celia after his death in 1984. The younger Duthie implemented her own style of managing, opening new stores and sponsoring readings and lectures. In its heyday, Duthie's had 10 stores, including a 19,000-sq.-ft. flagship store at Georgia and Granville Streets that it acquired from its one-time competitor, Bollum's Books Ltd.-which also applied for protection from creditors.

Duthie's has already closed four of its nine stores. "We are confident that Duthie Books will achieve a solution to the current situation that will satisfy our customers, publishers and authors, and will remain a presence in Vancouver," Duthie said.

Duthie's is only one of several independent bookstores that have closed in Canada recently. Other notables include Sandpiper Books in Calgary, Bollum Books Ltd. in Vancouver, Printed Passage in Kingston, Edwards Books & Art and Albert Britnell Book Shop in Toronto.