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  • 05-Apr-2021 5:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On March 24 bookstore owner and author Danny Caine spoke with Paul MacKay of the King's Co-op Bookstore to share his new book, How to Resist Amazon and Why. Watch the recording here: https://youtu.be/l0l5WKqCYgA  

    When a company's workers are literally dying on the job, when their business model relies on preying on local businesses and even their own vendors, when their CEO is literally the richest person in the world while their workers make low wages with impossible quotas... wouldn't you want to resist? Danny Caine, owner of Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas has been an outspoken critic of the seemingly unstoppable Goliath of the bookselling world: Amazon. In this book, he lays out the case for shifting our personal money and civic investment away from global corporate behemoths and to small, local, independent businesses. Well-researched and lively, his tale covers the history of big box stores, the big political drama of delivery, and the perils of warehouse work. He shows how Amazon's ruthless discount strategies mean authors, publishers, and even Amazon themselves can lose money on every book sold. And he spells out a clear path to resistance, in a world where consumers are struggling to get by. In-depth research is interspersed with charming personal anecdotes from bookstore life, making this a readable, fascinating, essential book for the 2020s.

    Danny Caine is owner of Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas. He is the author of the poetry collections Continental BreakfastEl Dorado Freddy's, and Flavortown, as well as the viral zine How to Resist Amazon & Why. He was named the west Bookseller of the year and is a passionate advocate, online and off, for independent, brick-and-mortar bookstores. More at dannycaine.com

  • 18-Mar-2021 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The owner of the Raven bookstore, in Lawrence, Kansas wants to tell you about all the ways that the e-commerce giant is hurting American downtowns.

    Article via the New Yorker. Click here to view.

  • 08-Mar-2021 5:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Brad Green, World of Maps (Ottawa)

    "Book sales dealing with nature such as bird watching guides, guides to trees, mushrooms and many other titles like this did very well in the summer."

    The founders of World of Maps met during their own travels across Europe and Asia in the 1970's and their love of travel and reading about travel continues to inspire them today.

    For planning and display or to take as reference materials for your journey, you read books and you also read maps!

    At a time when non-essential travel is limited to local or only regional travel, owners Brad Green and Petra Thoms needed to refocus the way they curated their store. Here’s how they did it.


    Tell us a little about World of Maps as it existed before the pandemic. Who was your clientele?

    Our customer base before the pandemic included all those travelling to international destinations for pleasure or business. These were not our only customers of course but these are the ones who vanished as all international travel stopped.

    When you realized that travel wasn’t going to be possible for quite some time, what steps did you take to keep your business afloat without losing the uniqueness of your store?

    When the first lock-down came we knew that we would have to pivot to feature and highlight the other products and services that we offer. Hundreds of different travel guides that were not selling could fortunately be returned for credit to some suppliers. Local travel within Ontario and Quebec expanded and we sold many travel maps, nautical charts and books for these driving-distance regions.

    Our products have always been for information and decoration and many people have purchased our wall maps for home renovation or home decoration projects. Framed world maps became a popular Zoom background, for example.

    When the local public library closed its doors we had many new customers purchase our budget priced remainder books. The public library also plays an important social role and we now found ourselves in a position of talking more and reassuring people who were living alone and very anxious. Sales of our greeting cards and puzzles started to take off at this time as well as online sales from our webstore that was already well established for many years, orders for books, maps, puzzles and so on were shipped out or the customer selected to pick-up at the store.

    Parents were forced to do home schooling and our children’s section of books, maps and games expanded to meet this demand. Puzzles became an important side line sale item and remains so even now.

    Your bookstore originally focused on Travel, History, Exploration and Adventure but you now stock a much wider range of titles. How did you go about deciding which new types of books to stock? What influenced your buying decisions?

    Book sales dealing with nature such as bird watching guides, guides to trees, mushrooms and many other titles like this did very well in the summer. Special orders for books on all topics were evaluated to consider re-ordering them as stock items often with success. We have a curated list of titles we stock changing regularly but also we listen and carefully consider trends such as Netflix movies such as Vikings, Chess and other subjects. Bookmanger allows us to see how many other bookstores carry a title and its sales history. We do watch the award-winning book lists and have carried & featured the short list finalists for the Giller Prize, Canada Reads and other awards but with limited success.

    How did you rally your regular customers to continue supporting the store, and what did you do to attract new customers?

    Our local Wellington West Business Improvement Association or BIA played an important role in helping us connect with our neighborhood, they organized a window display competition, and other special events in support of shopping local. The City Hall and mayor also played an important role prodding everyone to shop local and support neighborhood business. This message was loud and clear and very helpful. We posted positive messages on our social media and printed large size, colourful & positive posters for our window displays. We are located on a busy main street in Ottawa and often felt like one of the few business still “open” as all our neighbors, the restaurants, bars, gyms, hair salons etc. were all closed up and shuttered down.

    How do you imagine World of Maps will look, post pandemic? Will you continue your expanded selection of book titles?

    We expect to continue to expand our selection of books and other products and services because it was largely due to the diversity of our products & services that we were able to withstand the pandemic.


  • 08-Mar-2021 5:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Join BookNet Product Coordinator Hannah Johnston and Marketing Associate Nataly Alarcón as they share sales data for print books about anti-racism and social justice in 2020, a brief overview of the efforts related to equity, diversity, and inclusion made in the Canadian book industry, as well as a number of resources available to you — from research reports to Tech Forum presentations — that touch on these topics.

    Listen here

  • 25-Feb-2021 2:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Centre for Free Expression Virtual Forum Series:

    Canadian Authors and Books: An Endangered Species?

    Although there are many Canadian writers and genuine public interest, why is there a decline in sales and borrowing of Canadian books? What does this mean for Canada? What can be done? Join an panel of experts in the discussion of these vital issues.

    Watch the event recording here


    Drew Hayden Taylor, Canadian playwright and author

    Pilar Martinez, CEO, Edmonton Public Library

    Barb Minett, Founding co-owner, The Bookshelf

    Jim Lorimer, Publisher, James Lorimer & Co.


    Victor Rabinovitch, Former President and CEO, Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation 

    Co-sponsors: Association of Canadian Publishers​, Edmonton Public Library, PEN Canada, Toronto Public Library, Vancouver Public Library

  • 21-Feb-2021 3:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Post via Shelf Awareness February 19 newsletter

    "You aren't selling books. You're selling knowledge, discovery, wisdom, empathy, access to thoughts and worlds that readers have never experienced before. And by virtue of them experiencing the lives of others through books, they start understanding themselves better."

    At the opening of the 2021 Winter Institute, President Obama sent this grateful message via video to booksellers:

    "Growing up, whenever I was nagging my mom, whenever I told her I was bored or distracted her while she was at work, she'd tell me to pick up a book. And over time, reading became my refuge, a world I could escape to no matter what else was going on in my life. Now as a teenager, there were a few years when I spent more time bouncing basketballs and chasing romance than exploring literature, as my grades attested. But one of the most formative moments in my life came around 10th grade, when my grandparents took me to a rummage sale and I found myself in front of a bin of old hardcover books. As I write about it in A Promised Land, for some reason I started pulling out titles that appealed to me or sounded vaguely familiar. There were books by Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Robert Penn Warren, and Dostoevsky, D.H. Lawrence and Ralph Waldo Emerson. My grandfather gave me a confused look when I walked up with my box full of books. He joked, 'What, you planning on opening a library?' My grandmother shushed him. She was happy that I was reading. Though she did say I might want to finish my homework before digging into Crime and Punishment.

    And so I read all those books and found that they were expanding my mind and filling my spirit and broadening my sense of possibility and helping me sort through a budding identity, who I was and how I might want to live. And I went on to pick up a lot more books, at rummage sales and libraries and bookstores like yours. And that's why I want to record this video for all of you. Because what happened to me you're providing to so many other kids and teenagers and adults around the world, the same thing that those rummage sales first provided me.

    You aren't selling books. You're selling knowledge, discovery, wisdom, empathy, access to thoughts and worlds that readers have never experienced before. And by virtue of them experiencing the lives of others through books, they start understanding themselves better. So as a reader and as an author, I couldn't be more grateful for the work that all of you do every single day, especially during such a tough year. Thank you all for everything. I hope to see some of you again in person soon, in bookstores or libraries in your community."

  • 12-Feb-2021 10:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Shelley Macbeth, Blue Heron Books

    “We change the windows very regularly – every week to ten days.  We keep a calendar and plot it out seasonally leaving room to insert other themes as they crop up…. Changing the window frequently is vital during lockdown times!”

    While many retailers see an opportunity to engage their community through creative window displays, lock downs across the country have made this marketing tool even more essential for booksellers. We checked in with Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON) to ask owner, Shelley Macbeth, about the innovative ways they activate their shop window.


    In your opinion, what makes a great window display?

    Proportion, balance, colour are all important.  And depending on where your store is located -- something that is eye-catching from afar (a car window/bus etc.) as well as the detail of an up-close visit -- both are equally important.  Sometimes it's not the books in the window that lure you into the store but rather the feeling evoked by the 'story' that the window is telling. (perfect lead-in to question 2....)

    What story are you trying to tell with your store’s window display?

    Story is an important part of any good display -- window or otherwise.  Books lend themselves to this, both literally and figuratively.  Each display is its own story and needs to evoke a response -- hopefully a sale!  We often bring our windows to life -- for instance, we have had writers in the window in November for NaNoWriMo, the mayor and council reading Canadian stories in the window for I Read Canadian Day, and most recently a live mini-performance of The Nutcracker in the window at Christmas.


    Where do you draw inspiration for your window displays?

    Everywhere!  The books themselves, the month or season, a colour palette, nature, other people's windows, magazines, social causes, local events, a word or a mantra.

    How often do you switch out your window, and how do you decide when it is time to do a refresh?

    We change the windows very regularly - every week to ten days.  We keep a calendar and plot it out seasonally leaving room to insert other themes as they crop up.  We are often asked for our window for charity and are always happy to oblige as long as they do the window and we put in books that complement the charity/cause/mission statement.  Changing the window frequently is vital during lockdown times! 

    How do you decide who will be the audience for your window? Do you ever try to appeal to a customer base you’d like to see more of?

    That's a very good question.  Because we're in a small town we have more of a 'captive audience' - in other words, the same audience!  Appealing to different demographics is important and we have tried to appeal to groups who don't frequent us by using large visuals that will attract attention. Once we put a canoe/backpack etc. in the window and had to turn away many folks on the way to their cottage thinking a MEC had opened!

    Where do you source materials for your window displays?

    We are packrats and have a large basement - everything is kept (stored by season and colour) and often re-used. 2) we are scroungers and have no pride!! We often borrow props from neighbours, friends, service groups, staff.

    Tell us about some of the favourite window displays your store has created.

    My favourites are always Remembrance Day.  We have a strong local history group and have access to many fabulous pieces of history.  We are also very close to the cenotaph, so I feel the window gets a lot of attention on November 11 and that is a true 'feel-good' moment.  We are also the Ontario home of Lucy Maud Montgomery and have access to many wonderful props as a result.  Our LMM and Anne windows have always been quite lovely.


    One of my favourite windows used the entire collection of a customer's golf memorabilia (he was in his mid-90's) and was absolutely delighted that his items were on display!  These items included vintage clubs and club caddy, plus fours, bags etc.  It was awesome!

  • 10-Feb-2021 11:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Tamara Gorin, Western Sky Books

    "We had only done sporadic new book orders alongside our carefully curated new books from local, Indigenous, and POC authors. After lockdown, we had to learn the business of new books very quickly as our online orders for new books increased dramatically."

    Western Sky Books is an award-winning bookstore and art gallery selling thousands of used titles as well as specially selected new books. The only used bookstore in the TriCities area of Metro Vancouver and the only independent bookstore in Port Coquitlam, BC, they also host events, have a partnership with LibroFM to provide digital audio books, and feature local artists in their gallery space.

    We checked in with owner Tamara Gorin to find out how Western Sky Books has adapted during the pandemic, how the store fared over the holiday rush, and how they plan to move forward.  


    What challenges have you encountered over the past year?

    In the beginning, losing one of my staff was tricky because we had come to rely so heavily on her. We were working long hours, teaching ourselves new business tools, working hard on networking between local businesses and other bookstores, keeping up social media, delivering books. We were very tired!

    Hosting literary events is a large part of how we interact with the community and support local writers. Losing the events and connection to the local writers and artists was deeply felt. We have some work to do to rebuild and reimagine what events in the store will look like moving forward, but we have two virtual events scheduled in February that our community is looking forward to

    We did not qualify for any of the federal small business funding or loans and our landlord did not offer rent abatement or forgiveness, so we had to push through with uncertain cashflow until July at least and then again in October. Those were scary days.

    How have you adapted to comply with COVID restrictions?  

    We use Bookmanager so our webstore was already live with customers using it regularly. With the initial lockdown in March, we immediately started curbside pick-up and delivery two days a week, which we do to this day. We were set up with masks immediately and the entire staff team wears them. I also got us aprons to wear as an extra layer of protection, which can be decorated with book related flash as staff sees fit. We switched our credit card machine from a handheld one to stationary to reduce contact between staff and customers.

    We stayed open but we changed to limited hours – we are open 11am-4pm 7 days a week. We experienced no complaints and keep these hours to this day, with customers buying their books at night and picking up the next day or accepting delivery soon after.

    We kept the front door and back doors open as long as our property managers allowed us to. We changed how many books we take in at a time for credit and we now leave them for 24-48 hours before we handle them.

    Eventually, we did rearrange the store – first in the children’s area to make room for families and to take the pressure off parents to ‘control’ their kids, so they could continue to have a happy and pleasant bookstore experience. By the fall, we were busy enough that we had to close for two days and rearrange the front of the store to provide space for a lineup and make it possible for people to share an aisle while browsing. A bonus of this decision is not only more room ‘on the floor,’ but we were able to create a back room area to handle online orders.

    How did your 2020 holiday sales compare to previous years?

    We set sales goals in line with our plans pre-COVID. We are in our start up growth period, so it made sense to use those projections. In the end our sales for the end of the last quarter exceeded our planned goal. We even had two days which were ‘best sales’ days!

    What successes have you sees?

    We are primarily a used bookstore. We have A LOT of books and often bins and boxes of books in our aisles. We had to clean all that up, get book carts made to handle overflow. This was an important commitment to make the store finally accessible, as well as in compliance with the COVID regulations. Customers coming in after months of staying home are very happy and really excited to see that we care about their safety and well-being when they are here and they feel comfortable making us one of their stops on their shopping days.

    We had only done sporadic new book orders alongside our carefully curated new books from local, Indigenous, and POC authors. After lockdown, we had to learn the business of new books very quickly as our online orders for new books increased dramatically. We now see new and regular customers ordering new books from front and back list regularly. Seeing sales that are equal to pre-COVD times every morning is super reinforcing and exciting too.

    Honestly, we had a week when Indigo reopened when sales declined, but we responded with reinforced excellent customer service and those customers came back. A big thing we hear from customers is that we keep them informed about their orders and explain the situation with shipping or distribution, so they can relax and wait. A lot of people made a conscious effort to give up their Amazon habit and we had to honour that with building relationships and communication.

    Our local Downtown BIA worked with all of us to create a shop local buzz which we still benefit from as more customers discover us daily. Participating in giveaways and fun social media campaigns brought together small businesses and our customers alike.

    We got so busy we were able to hire two part-time staff using provincial employment programs and we are able to keep them on after the holiday rush, with no seasonal slump layoffs.

    What adaptations do you think you'll maintain as a part of your day-to-day business once restrictions are lifted? 

    The store layout is working very well; customers love it and so do we. Our new way of taking in books for credit is working too, so we will keep that. We were good at universal precautions before so we will just keep at it. And really, none of us got colds or flus this year, so it makes me think we will keep mask wearing an option for staff, keep providing masks for free to customers who might want them, keep social distancing in place, etc. We will continue with delivery as it is a nice option for our customers outside of our immediate community, and it widens our customer base. Having books ready for people to pick up, pre-paid, is also something that just makes sense. We’ll keep looking at the option of extending our hours but that will likely not be done until around holiday season later this year.

  • 12-Dec-2020 11:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the past year I was contacted a couple of times by the owner of bookshop.org to discuss a partnership or endorsement. I declined, pretty much for the same reason as I did years ago when stores wanted Bookmanager to build the tools to get their books listed on Amazon. When I considered the long game, the indie shop would eventually lose their share.

    Anything that encourages or facilitates the consumer avoiding the actual store simply depreciates the need for the physical store.As I have stated many times, the physical store is the ONLY reason we have small business owners making a living selling books. It is hard to find a bookseller making a go of it online only. Perhaps there are some highly specialized ones, but it is hard to find online-only independents surviving by selling a general selection.

    In the U.S., Ingram handles all bookshop.org shipments. Imagine if Ingram had set up "The Ingram Bookstore.com", appealing to consumers with their massive selection, streamlined shipping systems, and the ability to use algorithms to analyze the buying habits of their retailers to make the Ingram experience successful and rewarding. The indie market would revolt. Bookshop.org (doing essentially the same thing), however, has many independent praising the new service. Ingram does all the work to ship direct to consumers and the bookseller still earns some profit without a customer ever coming into the store. Brilliant!

    The argument against my thoughts is that each book sold through bookshop.org is essentially a commissioned sale that the bookseller might otherwise not realize. True, perhaps to a certain degree, but it is more likely that the customers who visit the store today will gradually make fewer visits.

    Bookshop.org exists because they have a slew of independent shops directing their loyal customers away from the store. I cannot imagine that bookshop.org would have succeeded without the independents behind them.  The bookseller receives a generous 30% commission on a purchase made by a consumer linking to their store. If the consumer does not link to a specific store, the bookseller still receives a portion of 10% of all sales not associated with a store (the pot). 

    Over time and depending on how bookshp.org changes the way consumers navigate the site, it could end up that most purchases are done agnostic so that stores receive only 10% of their (former) customers’ purchases. At some point the bookseller might determine that bookshop.org is eroding business, and so they opt out. However, the online brand has now been built, and with a large audience of booklovers, bookshop.org can now survive without the independent brand behind them.

    Even if that sounds too sinister, the point remains that we only exist is because of our storefronts. Mosaic Books’ online presence has always been focused on how to get customers into the store. Mailing a book to prevent sales being lost to Amazon is short-term thinking. Each mail-out (or third-party fulfilled) sale results in one less store visit (along with the often-additional impulse purchase).

    Most stores are realizing how expensive and time-consuming in-store mail-out orders are (hence the temptation to use a third-party). Curbside or in-store pick-up from online shopping is less costly and with a full margin (and extremely popular!). Mosaic does offers mail-out because it is the only option for some customers, but we do not encourage or promote it. Nothing is black or white but try to consider the long game.

    Michael Neill

    Mosaic Books, Kelowna, BC


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