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Bookstores need post-Covid Ottawa help – industry experts

Independent bookstores across Canada should have a big part in the post-Covid recovery, according to a book industry think tank group.

In a report released today, bookstores are lauded for their significant role in promoting and selling Canadian-authored books, particularly those of local and regional authors.

But they need help to get back on their feet. To strengthen existing stores, and encourage new ones, the report’s key recommendation is that independent bookstores should get the same low Canada Post shipping rates now enjoyed by local public libraries. The Library Book Rate allows libraries to ship books for a very modest price.

“If independent bookstores could use the library book rate, they could grow their online sales and be effective competitors to Amazon,” says Philip Cercone of McGill-Queens University Press, one of the report’s authors. “They’d also be able to stock more books from smaller independent publishers,” he adds. The report recommends that the library book rate also be made available to independent Canadian publishers.

For the full report, click here.

For the press release, click here.

Covid-19 impact on Indigo major worry for Canadian publishers

Independent publishers are worried about the future of the Indigo bookstore chain, according to a discussion paper released by the More Canada project June 17.

Indigo lost money in 2019 and is expected to record significant losses for a second time in the year ending 31 March 2020. The impact of Covid-19 and store shutdowns across the country add to the chain’s challenges.

The discussion paper notes that Indigo could obtain financial support from Ottawa under its emergency LEEFF program for large businesses. It recommends that any support come with cultural conditions. A key condition would be a commitment by Indigo to devote 20% of book shelf space in stores to Canadian-authored books. This would be in line with federal cultural policy which aims to allow Canadians to discover and read a wide range of books by Canadian authors.

For the full report, click here.

For the press release, click here.

About the More Canada Report

The More Canada report (December 2018) highlighted an issue that had escaped public notice: the slow, steady decline over 10-12 years, in Canadians reading Canadian books.

Public discussion of this issue is now underway. New data has come to light and new studies have been released. Debate is on about how to encourage discovery, awareness and reading of Canadian books by Canadians.

There’s a rich and diverse range of Canadian books being written and published across the country every year.

On this site you can find a constantly-updated collection of reports, research documents, media comments and policy proposals addressing this issue.

Read the Report HERE