The country’s page hawkers join forces to gain support for independent book culture on April 24
Like so many small businesses, independent bookstores might really need support right now. With Ontario back in what looks like its 113th foreclosure, booksellers are back to offering curbside pickup and delivery – a space dominated by Amazon, which actually started as an online bookseller before becoming the store of everything.
Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is back to rally the support of independent page merchants across the country. While they cannot accommodate shoppers in stores in Ontario, the event will return on April 24.
“Independent bookstores support intergenerational initiatives and provide inclusive spaces for important dialogue,” says Shelley Macbeth, director of the board of directors of the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association (and owner of Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ont.). “[They make an] integral contribution to the literary ecosystem and to Canadian culture as champions of local authors and creators from diverse backgrounds.
“They are doing so much for the industry and the local communities, this is a day we can give back.”
Like its musical counterpoint, Record Store Day, the Canadian Independent Bookstore Day attracted people to physical places, but that’s impossible at the moment. So instead it’s holding a competition. Buy a book at any independent Canadian bookstore on April 24 or 25 and you will be entered to win a prize. Most of the prizes bring the social aspect that is lacking, offering Zoom encounters with authors and thematic virtual experiences like tea time, painting, mystery-solving and bread-baking workshops.
“One of the fundamental qualities of an independent bookstore is the personal interaction with customers,” says Macbeth. “Before the pandemic, many independent bookstores only had physical locations. Salespeople needed to work fast and invest in building an online business, while also finding ways to continue these interactions. It has been a tremendous amount of work to maintain.
“Silver lining, we’ve turned to books to learn, laugh and cope – and reading is on the rise. The general public encourages local commerce more than ever. More and more people are falling in love with indies and appreciating how much they contribute to Canadian culture. If that appreciation continues beyond the pandemic, it will translate into more success for individual stores and more support for the industry as a whole. “
There are six participating stores in Toronto, and there are more and more of them. Some of them run their own promotions, so check out their social media and head over to the Canadian Independent Bookstore Day website to find out more.
Canadian Independent Bookstore Day in Toronto:
A different list of books (779 Bathurst Street)
Bookstore Another History (315 Roncesvalles)
Book City (348 Danforth, 1950 Queen East, 2354 Bloor West, 1430 Yonge)
Bakka-Phoenix Books (84 Harbord)
Moonbeam Books (335 Jane)
UofT bookstore (214, rue College)