Founded in 2020, the Canadian Independent Booksellers’ Association (CIBA) offers programs and services to Canadian independent booksellers and advocates to support the strengthening of the independent bookselling sector.
Independent booksellers are an invaluable part of Canadian culture and our literary ecosystem. In cities and towns across Canada, independent bookstores are intrinsic to the fabric of their communities, convenors of important conversations, and contributors to vibrant local economies.
Following a dip in the 1990s and 2000s due to the advent of Amazon and e-books, independent bookselling has been experiencing a resurgence. New bookstores are opening, and customers are increasingly looking to their local booksellers for access to new and important voices and ideas and a sense of connection.
There are between 200 to 250 independent bookstores in Canada. In 2019, their sales totaled $79 million. As a percentage of their sales, indie booksellers sell Canadian titles at twice the rate of the rest of the market.
As local and digital economies continue to rapidly shift, and a higher number of independent bookstores enter the marketplace, booksellers identified a need for a national association that could offer shared member services, provide business development and networking opportunities, advocate for shared policy priorities, and serve as the collective voice of indie booksellers in Canada.
In 2018, an exploratory committee made up of 25 booksellers was struck to explore shared goals and the viability of a new association. The committee’s survey of booksellers found a need and desire among booksellers for representation and support in a fast-changing marketplace, and a chance to network with peers. CIBA began operations in fall 2020 and will build on the work done by the Canadian Booksellers’ Association (disbanded in 2009) and the Retail Council of Canada to offer targeted and responsive support to independent booksellers from coast to coast to coast, and contribute to a thriving, diverse, and independent bookseller community.
Healthy and vibrant retail environments are essential for the neighbourhoods of cities and towns to thrive. CIBA responds to a need expressed by independent booksellers for an association that can provide shared services and help advance business, advocate for shared policy priorities, and act as a collective voice for the sector and increase collaboration with other associations, publishers, and authors.