Books

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day encourages readers to shop local

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day, which is on Saturday (April 24) is an annual celebration to encourage people to visit their local independent bookstores, either online or in person.

Bookstores across Canada are celebrating Saturday, April 24

Another Story Bookshop is a bookstore in Toronto participating in Canadian Independent Bookstore Day. (Submitted by the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association)

On Saturday (April 24) independent bookstores across Canada will be celebrating Canadian Independent Bookstore Day.

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is an annual celebration to encourage people to visit their local independent bookstores, either online or in person.

There are more than 275 independent bookstores across Canada.

Bookstores across the country have programmed activities, many which have been adapted for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local authors will be writing in the windows of Brome Lake Books in Knowlton, Que., while Moonbeam Books in Toronto has organized a public art scavenger hunt. 

Glass Bookshop in Edmonton is doing virtual readings with local authors.

"The day's events remind people of the benefits of shopping local instead of big e-commerce. Independent bookstores offer inclusive spaces for important dialogue and contribute to Canadian culture," Shelley Macbeth, the owner of Blue Heron Books in Oxbridge, Ont., and a board director for the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association, told CBC Books via email.

The Canadian Independent Booksellers Association has also organized a contest. For every book purchased on April 24 or 25 — in person, over the phone or online — the buyer will be entered into a national draw to win one of several prizes. The prizes range from gift cards to Indigenous language lessons to cooking lessons to author meet and greets. You can see all the prizes and learn more about the draw here.

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Despite concerns that they’d be replaced by online retailers like Amazon, some small booksellers in Canada have managed to thrive thanks to come creative ways to connect with customers. 2:02

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant bookstores across the country had to adapt to changing public health regulations. 

Many bookstores introduced online ordering, local delivery and curbside pickup in order to continue supplying books to readers and ultimately stay afloat. They have also introduced unique services such as delivering wine and launching subscriptions and book clubs.

However, several independent bookstores have said that their sales have thrived during this uncertain time, thanks to an increased intention to shop local and support small businesses.

Glass Bookshop's co-owner Jason Purcell told CBC Radio's As It Happens that an unexpected silver lining of COVID-19 has been that many independent businesses like theirs have received more intentional support from customers than ever before.

Jason Purcell, co-owner of Edmonton's Glass Bookshop, told As It Happens guest host Nil Köksal about unexpected silver lining of COVID-19: Many independent businesses like theirs have received more intentional support from customers than ever before. 6:26

Hosting Canadian Independent Bookstore Day for the second time during the pandemic "feels like an achievement," he said. The store had only been open for six months when the pandemic began. But the community rallied around the new business, as they turned to delivery and selling online. 

"I've seen a renewed commitment to community and investing in independently owned neighbourhood businesses. We have seen such tremendous support," he said.

The support has allowed the store to "get creative" and think outside the box for both day-to-day bookselling and events like Canadian Independent Bookstore Day. In addition to their virtual readings, they have partnered with a local ice cream shop and launched a podcast.

"We are finding ways to bring literature to the community."

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