February 25, 2015

Canada’s first Indie Bookstore Day


Author Janie Chang has organized a celebration of Canadian indie bookstores for this May. © Dale Northey & SFU / via JanieChang.com

Author Janie Chang has organized a celebration of Canadian indie bookstores for this May.
© Dale Northey & SFU / via JanieChang.com

The Toronto International Book Fair might be shutting down after just one year, but that’s not stopping literary-minded Canadians from looking for new ways to celebrate books around the country. Laura Godfrey writes for Publishers Weekly that author Janie Chang (Three Souls) has taken on the task of launching a national celebration of independent bookstores, Canadian Authors for Indies Day.

Chang took inspiration from Sherman Alexie’s launching of the Indies First campaign in the US, and while she initially envisioned something focused around her hometown of Vancouver (and British Columbia), it’s quickly ballooned into a national event. PW reports that, as of Monday, almost 100 independent booksellers had signed on to participate, as well as 270 authors. The exact nature of what will go on during Canadian Authors for Indies Day is somewhat nebulous, as Chang leaves that up to individual authors and stores—though she does suggest that participating authors spend time speaking with customers at their local indies, handselling books.

The goal of the day is, Chang says, to raise awareness of the importance of indie stores and bring in traffic and customers. She tells PW, “I really hope it raises awareness of how important independent bookstores are in the community. For me, what’s really important is that it also strengthens relationships between authors and booksellers, because [most] authors are very shy and retiring.” We’ll chalk up the last statement as referring to most Canadian authors.

Among the people Chang credits with helping her get the event off the ground are Mary-Ann Yazedijian, a bookstore manager and president of the B.C. Booksellers Association. “Because we’re seeing such a strong bookselling community in the United States now,” she says, “it’s really inspirational for us to work together to do this.” The official face of Canadian Authors for Indies Day is going to be Ann-Marie Macdonald, author of The Way the Crow Flies and last year’s Adult Onset, who rallied for the cause in a statement, saying, “We all know how tough things are for Canadian independent bookstores. Year after year they support us. They stock our books, invite us for readings, and put our titles on their ‘staff picks’ shelf. Let’s do something to support them back.”

Chang is optimistic that the celebration of independent stores will become an annual tradition, and hopes that once they launch their official website (scheduled for March 15), people will get excited about everything that’s been planned so far. “They’ll see that there are stores and authors together, and they’ll be able to walk into their local independent bookstore and get book recommendations from an author, and talk about books,” she said. Canadian Authors for Indies Day is scheduled for May 2.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.