It was started on Toronto's then-bohemian Queen Street West in 1972 as a combined science-fiction and comic book store called Bakka, a name taken by founding owner Charles McKee from a Fremen legend in Frank Herbert's novel Dune; Bakka was "the weeper who mourns for all mankind." The comic-book business split off early on, becoming the Silver Snail, still extant on the opposite side of Queen Street West. Bakka used to have a substantial stock of used, as well as new, books, but when Jack Brooks left the store, the emphasis shifted almost entirely to new material; Brooks now runs his own, entirely used, bookstore, Brooks' Books, in Oakville, Ontario. Unlike many other SF specialty stores, Bakka has remained almost exclusively a bookstore; it does not sell toys, games, comics, memorabilia, or collectibles.
Its third owner, Ben Freiman, bought the company in 2003 and gave the store its current name.
Several noted Canadian science fiction and fantasy authors, including Robert J. Sawyer, Tanya Huff, Michelle Sagara, Cory Doctorow, and Nalo Hopkinson, have been employed by the store. In 2002, in honor of the store's 30th anniversary, The Bakka Anthology, containing new stories by all of these writers, with an introduction by Spider Robinson, was published. The anthology was edited by Kristen Pederson Chew, and was the final volume released under the "Bakka Books" imprint, established by then-owner John Rose.
The store first opened at 282 Queen Street West in Toronto, moved in March 1998 to 598 Yonge Street in Toronto (in the same building as the LGBT bookstore Glad Day), and relocated in March 2005 to 697 Queen Street West in Toronto. Intriguingly, this move was predicted in 1998's Hugo Award-nominated Factoring Humanity, by Robert J. Sawyer, set early in the 21st century, which says, "Kyle continued on until he came to Bakka. The store had started on Queen West in 1972, had moved away a quarter-century later, and now was back, not far from its original location."
The manager of the store is Chris Szego.