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Saturday, April 24

Today is Canadian Independent Bookstore Day! It is everyone’s opportunity to show our support for local, independent bookstores. (If you haven’t done so yet, check out our post on all the great activities Alberta bookstores have planned, and buy a book from your indie bookstore for a chance to win great prizes!)

When the pandemic first hit Alberta in 2020, there was a lot of talk about how to help keep our local bookstores and other small businesses afloat during such an unprecedented time. We saw booksellers pulling off miracles to continue their businesses, becoming e-commerce experts and delivery services (one of the most memorable of which features Glass Bookshop co-owner Matthew Stepanic driving around with his dog, Bob the Welsh Corgi) almost overnight, and promoting local authors with Zoom events and social media campaigns. Close to Christmas, shop local campaigns really did start working to help increase local bookstores sales.

Now that we’re a year in, experiencing a crushing third wave of the pandemic, and restrictions have tightened yet again, Alberta booksellers continue to face new challenges. When we started Read Alberta, we asked Alberta indies how people can best continue to support them at this stage of the pandemic, and here were the top five most common answers:

1. “Go to independent webstores if you can’t shop in person.” Owl’s Nest Books

Of course the best thing you can do to help your local bookstore is to buy books! And almost every store surveyed suggested checking out their online store if in-person shopping wasn’t a possibility. Use Read Alberta’s handy Alberta bookseller map or browse our bookstore profiles to find your favourite store. Or, if you see a book that you like on the Read Alberta site, use our “shop local” button (provided courtesy of Bookmanager), which is located underneath each book cover, and input your postal code to be shown a list of your closest indie booksellers. If you’re a publisher or a book blogger, you can even get your own “shop local” button for your website.

2. “Keep showing the love of local and independent…” Analog Books 

The second most frequent request from stores was to spread the word to family and friends about shopping local. Shop local campaigns are really working, especially the more that community members advocate for the need to support local businesses, demonstrate by shopping local themselves, and share their great experiences on social media or by word-of-mouth.

3. “Post and tag or repost us on social media!” Shelf Life Books

Your independent booksellers love to hear from you, and social media is a great way to show them support and remind others as well. Everyone is struggling during the pandemic, and interacting with your bookstore on social media can be a great, inexpensive way to help out. Have you participated in the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association’s Love Notes To Indie Bookstores campaign yet? 

 4. “Switch from Audible to Libro.fm.” —Shepherd’s Fold 

If audiobooks are your thing, did you know that you can buy them in a way that supports your local independent bookstore? Libro.fm allows you to select your store, and a portion of each audiobook you buy will go to that store—and they are even offering an Independent Bookstore Day deal. Plus buyer beware, Audible is owned by Amazon, which has been known to sell at a loss to put local independent bookstores out of business, in an effort to gain market share.

5. “Keep doing what you’re doing! We have had continued support throughout this entire pandemic and it has been absolutely wonderful.” —The Next Page

Many bookstores expressed appreciation to their local communities for all the great support they’ve seen already. Let’s keep it up, and bring every Alberta bookstore through to the end of this pandemic.

Happy Canadian Independent Bookstore Day!

Shop Local is a column all about supporting local, independent booksellers in Alberta.