Support Independent Canadian Bookstores!

Kerry On Can Lit Adopts IndieBound

Are you, as an enlightened and enthusiastic member of the reading public, suffering from repressed-guilt-induced book-buying ennui?
Not sure? Not even sure what that might be?

Take this simple test to assess the current state of your book-buying mental health:

1. Do apocalyptic pronouncements about the death of the book make you gloomy?

2. Do you lament the recent demise of your local bookstore?

3. Do you lament the demise of bookstores in general?

4. Do you avert your gaze when clicking on your link to:

 (insert name of the vaguely menacing-in-a-Brave-New-Worldian-sort-of-way, member of the online bookselling oligarchy here)

reminding yourself that you are only doing this because there are no local bookstores in your locale, all the while uncomfortably aware that this may very well be why there are no local bookstores in your locale?

5. Do you avert your gaze when clicking on your link to:

(insert name of the vaguely menacing-in-a-Brave-New-Worldian-sort-of-way, member of the online bookselling oligarchy here)

even though there is a local bookstore in your locale, because, darn it! it’s just so much easier?

6.  Do you intuit, vaguely, while doing so, that you are making your literary bed, and will, inevitably, have to lie in it?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are likely a-slosh in repressed-guilt- induced book-buying ennui, a direct consequence of the actions you’ve been forced to take, lately, to support your reading habit, and the resulting (and growing!) gap between your ideals and your practice.  Immediate countermeasures are advisable.

Good news!  Countermeasures are available! Imperfect and incomplete countermeasures to be sure, but antidotal nonetheless. And, they are only a click away!

The American Booksellers Association has a program called IndieBound which, amongst other worthy endeavours, provides an interactive “Find A Bookstore” map which is easy to use and available to Canadian as well as American users. One simply types in one’s postal code (in place of the American ZIP) specifies the distance one is willing to travel if one wishes to visit the store in person (or the limit to the radius of what one considers to be local) and, abracadabra, the locations of local independent bookstores in your area appear on the map, along with links to the stores’ websites and other contact information.  Many (if not all) have online purchase options.


So…there are a few issues.  If you experienced a small frisson of confusion when you read “American Booksellers Association,” you may be there ahead of me.  First, although I can’t speak for the American side of things, the Canadian bookstore database is quite incomplete.  The IndieBound site allows individual visitors to add the locations of favourite bookstores to the map, but this function has been “temporarily disabled” to allow for upgrading, according to a message on the site. It’s been this way for awhile. The other, even bigger issue is that when a blog reader clicks on the IndieBound logo, they are transferred to the IndieBound page and presented with the option of to “buy online from an indie bookstore” which sounds wonderful but will only take you to American stores. If you  are a Canadian buyer who wants to support independent Canadian booksellers, you will have to circumvent this limitation by using the “Find a Bookstore” option instead, and clicking to the individual bookstore’s web page to see if you can order from them online.

One  aspect of the IndieBound initiative which needs to be understood is that when a reader accesses the online purchase option through a blogger’s web site and actually makes a purchase, the blogger receives a small percentage of the sale price (6% net).   This does not occur, however, if the buyer uses the  map to locate a store and makes the purchase through the store’s own web page, which, at the moment is the only way to purchase online from a Canadian store. This puts Canadian bloggers like myself in the position of having to choose between supporting a Canadian store or receiving a percentage of a sale to an American store.   I have decided that, while supporting independent bookstores anywhere is a good thing, for a Can Lit blogger like myself, supporting  independent Canadian bookstores is an even better thing.  Therefore, I’ve included instructions for Canadian readers about how to deal directly with a Canadian independent with each post that includes an IndieBound link. To give you some idea of the size of the sacrifice I am prepared to make, IndieBound takes pains to inform its affiliates (like me) that while commissions are calculated quarterly, no cheques will be sent until the amount meets or exceeds $25. (Insert wry Canadian smiley face here). The perfect solution, of course, would be a Canadian version of IndieBound, which would, ipso facto, support both Canadian independent booksellers, authors and bloggers!

The last consideration for me, when making the decision to join IndieBound, was the potential conflict inherent in any situation where a reviewer might be compensated for book sales.  My mandate for this blog has always been to showcase worthy Canadian writing. I have never done “take down” reviews.  A review on Kerry on Can Lit indicates that I am excited about the book, I want people to know about it, and feel I have something interesting to discuss with readers which may contribute to their appreciation of the work.  If I don’t like a book, or don’t feel I have anything to add to the conversation about it, I don’t review it. It seems to me that this pre-existing stance negates any conflict about potential compensation.

As I said earlier, any initiative that supports independent booksellers anywhere is a good thing for the reading world. So, hurray for IndieBound! Now, let’s push for one that’s entirely our own!

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6 Responses to Support Independent Canadian Bookstores!

  1. buriedinprint says:

    So inspiring! I recently finished a reading project which was designed to test whether I was really reading as many indie-published books as I was intending to read, and I love the idea of other indie-minded-bookish adventures playing out alongside my just-one-reader efforts.

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