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Last Modified: March 28, 2021
Photo taken from the back of The Next Page bookstore, looking along a line of bookshelves with a ladder toward a window
Overview of Alberta’s Bookstores

“To my mind, one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets is its vibrant and flourishing literary community made up of tenacious and forward-looking publishers, boundary-pushing writers, and devoted readers. These are people and organizations who value collaboration over competition and uplift at every level, recognizing that this is what’s necessary to build and sustain a dynamic cultural industry. It’s for these reasons and more that I could not imagine being a writer or bookshop owner anywhere else.” —Jason Purcell, Glass Bookshop

Alberta’s bookstores provide an atmospheric refuge where books are hand-recommended by booksellers who often know their customers by name; where authors present their works to their readers for the first time; where ideas are shared and connected between friends and strangers; and where a shared love of books moves communities to new places.

But they are so much more than that. According to BookNet Canada, readers discover new books at physical bookstores more than anywhere else. And Canadian-authored books make up a far higher percentage of independent bookstores’ sales than any other place books are accessed. That means that our independent bookstores are the single best way to get local books into the hands and hearts of readers. They are making it it possible for our Alberta authors and publishers to survive and thrive. They are responsible for giving many authors their start. They are bringing foot-traffic and vibrancy to our mainstreets. And all the while, they are constantly evolving and adapting themselves to fill our needs—whether flipping their business model to online sales during the pandemic, and delivering books to our doorsteps; or working their way through three levels of suppliers to get you that one, perfect, hard-to-find, special-order book.

“I feel that being at the centre of Alberta’s book and reading community is an absolute honour. Within Calgary, I believe all of the independent bookstores have an unspoken mutual agreement, and at the heart of that agreement is ensuring that all of our customers have access to great reading material, no matter which independent bookstore it is coming from. For me, I think of The Next Page as not only an independent entity, but a vibrant and important piece of a greater whole.” —Jeremey Shannon, The Next Page

By dedicating themselves to serving their communities, Alberta’s booksellers are each as different as the last; ensuring that Alberta’s cultural landscape is as diverse as its readership. From Audreys and Owl’s Nest Books, steeped in important local history and tradition as Edmonton and Calgary’s oldest independent bookstores, respectively; to Glass Bookshop, which opened just before the pandemic to highlight LGBTQ2SIA and IBPOC writers, independent presses, and marginalized voices. From sitting down to read with a tea and a pastry in the gorgeous, antique atmosphere of Café Books in Canmore; to browsing books alongside new local artwork at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond. From religious bookstores, to comic bookstores, to used and rare bookstores, and everything in between. Not to mention the local giftshops, visitor centres, outdoors stores, and children’s shops that are curating robust book sections of their own.

Booksellers care; and that is what makes them so great at what they do.