Books

There's now a map highlighting Canadian bookstores selling online due to COVID-19

The map features more than 275 retailers across the country and has been viewed over 32,000 times.
Don Gorman's Google Map shows more than 250 independent bookstores offering online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)

Like many small businesses forced to shutter over the past several weeks, independent booksellers were faced with a difficult decision  — wait it out or undergo a complete overhaul.

Many bookstores introduced online ordering, local delivery and curbside pickup in order to continue supplying books to readers and ultimately stay afloat.

Don Gorman, a publisher for West Coast-based Rocky Mountain Books (RMB), saw an opportunity to highlight the independent booksellers that had moved business online in light of the pandemic. He plotted the stores on a publicly accessible Google Map.

The map grew from a couple dozen plot points in Western Canada to 140 in the first week. 

It now features more than 275 retailers across the country.

It has been viewed over 32,000, mainly through shares on social media platforms. 

"It's been totally awesome and completely over the top in terms of what I thought it was going to be," he said. "It's offered a great opportunity to communicate and build something that is sort of unbiased. It's just about books."

Many bookstores that previously had no online presence took to Facebook and Instagram, taking photos of books and recommending stacks that they've put together and parcels that they've boxed up for consumers.

He received emails daily from independent booksellers asking to be added, as well as consumers from across the country who wanted their local bookstore added to the list.

He said he still gets two to three emails a day.

"I was very surprised that something like this didn't exist prior to now and that's more of a commentary on Canadian booksellers not having an association working on their behalf to create this sort of resource."

Gorman said the response from booksellers and book lovers alike has been positive.

Gorman hopes to continue maintaining the list, adding more independent booksellers from across Canada to the map long after the pandemic.

"This map isn't something that I'm going to let go of," he said. "I think it's a great resource." 

"We actually do have a really strong independent bookselling community in Canada and also try and get booksellers to work together more than we've ever done."

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