It’s 10:30 p.m. You’ve just snuggled up in bed with a good book, only to reach the final page within a matter of minutes. You haven’t planned ahead. Your “to read” pile has bottomed out, and the stores and libraries are closed. But never fear – Amazon is waiting with open arms. In a matter of minutes you can download an e-book, and happily read yourself to sleep.
Whether electronic or paper, there are few us us who have escaped the seduction of online retailers and chain stores when looking for bargains or convenience. There are also few of us who are unaware of the damage that has been done to local bricks and mortar bookstores by the advances in technology along with the financial restraints of the reading public.
As with any force, there is a resistance. But as is often the case, sometimes a crisis must threaten before action is taken.
In 2013 the American Booksellers Association adopted the brainchild of author Sherman Alexie, and implemented its annual Indies First campaign as a thank you to the independent bookstores for their substantial and ongoing support of writers. Word of its success reached Canada, and prompted a similar initiative.
B.C. writer Janie Chang already knew that independent bookstores were more than shelves filled with reading material. She saw them as “cultural hubs” that brought booklovers together, whether they be readers, writers, or sellers. These types of relationships enable the promotion of worthy writing that might not make it to the best seller lists, but which would appeal to specific communities.
Chang’s investigation into the viability of a Canadian version of Indies First put her in touch with the Retail Council of Canada, and a national interest in the idea soon followed. On May 15, 2015 nearly 700 independent bookstores across the country hosted authors who worked as booksellers for a portion of the day, meeting customers and recommending books that might interest them. This resulted in 18.5% more sales on average.
This year Canadian Authors for Indies promises to be bigger and better. On Saturday, April 30 independent bookstores across the country will be celebrating, along with their customers and the authors who treasure their support.
In his endorsement of the event on the AFI website Guy Gavriel Kay praises indie bookstores as “islands of light and knowledge in communities lucky enough to still have them.” Information regarding participating stores and authors is also listed on the site.
Please mark April 30th on your calendar. Help your local bookstore, your local authors, and your own community. Participate in Canadian Authors for Indies Day!
Canadian Authors for Indies. Web. 21 April 2016.
Godfrey, Laura. “First-Ever Canadian Authors for Indies Day Set for May.” Publishers Weekly 24 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 April 2016.
Keeler, Emily M. “National Authors for Indies Day Heralds a new chapter for Canadian book stores.” National Post 30 April 2015. Web. 21 April 2016.
Lederman, Marsha. “Authors for Indies Day aims to increase support for independent bookstores.” The Globe and Mail 01 May 2015. Web. 21 April 2016.