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Over the winter, bookstores banded together to form the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association (CIBA). Our congratulations to booksellers everywhere on this achievement, which was thanks to the tireless efforts of individuals from many of the member stores.
So why does this matter? How does it impact the Alberta book community?
Having a cumulative association has a huge impact on independent bookstores’ ability to advocate for themselves, to connect to share what works, and to make things happen. Since most readers discover books in brick-and-mortar stores, and independent booksellers sell the highest percentage of Canadian titles in their stores and tirelessly promote local authors, helping indies in their efforts is beneficial for local book communities everywhere. So far, over a dozen Alberta booksellers, publishers, and more, have joined the organization as full or associate members.
CIBA may have just gotten started, but they’ve already begun their efforts in earnest. They are offering a helpful Lectures and Labs series, which in April will include virtual event training on how to host Zoom events.
They are working on advocacy efforts, such as a push to make the Canada Post book rate available to independent bookstores. This book rate, already available to libraries, will help level the online playing field so that independent bookstores can offer competitive shipping rates on web orders.
They are focusing their social media efforts around supporting their members, with features on member stores and a memorable “Love Notes to Indie Bookstores” promotion where readers can respond to a prompt question every month that’s designed to help show the love to their local store.
And, they are working to make Canadian Independent Bookstore Day (coming up soon, on Saturday, April 24!) a success, even during the pandemic. Canadian Independent Bookstore Day (CIBD) is the annual day when readers, writers, and publishers celebrate beloved local bookstores from across the country. A list of this year’s participating bookstores can be found here. Descriptions of the amazing prizes you can win, if you buy a book at your indie bookstore on April 24 or 25 and submit an entry form, can be found here—including an Indigenous Language Fest event in which winners can expect language lessons from the Anishinaabe, Blackfoot, and Métis Nations, along with readings, drumming, singing, and recipes, which was donated by independent Alberta publisher Durvile Publications.
Anyone who is interested can get involved and help CIBA’s efforts. Book industry individuals and organizations who are not booksellers can join the association as associate members. They can write to their own MPs to support CIBA’s advocacy efforts. And anyone can engage with CIBA on social media and attend events like Canadian Independent Bookstore Day to show their support.
Canadian booksellers haven’t always been without their own association. The previous Canadian Booksellers Association was founded in 1952, but was absorbed into the vast Retail Council of Canada in 2015, where issues specific to bookstores no longer had a voice. Bookmanager made efforts to harness their Bookmanager Academy event as a venue for independent booksellers to meet and share ideas and concerns in recent years. Finally, CIBA is here, and the indie bookselling community will be the stronger for it. Welcome, CIBA!