|When the pandemic first hit, independent bookstores felt their share of pain. Lockdowns in some regions brought foot traffic to a halt and publishers began holding back titles, waiting for more favourable conditions. But with the fall came a flood of new titles while booksellers across Canada are finding new ways to connect with customers, writes CBC’s Eli Glasner.
In Toronto, TYPE Books co-owner Joanne Saul took to delivering purchases when restrictions closed her doors. “We had incredible support,” she said of the local customers she met when she and her co-owner jumped in the car. As readers hunker down to try and ride out the pandemic, what Saul and other owners have observed is an increased appetite for understanding. “People are trying to connect,” she said. “People are trying to learn, trying to make sense of the world.… That’s something that good books can do.”
The push to support the neighbourhood shop predates the pandemic, said Doug Minett, executive director of the newly formed Canadian Independent Booksellers Association. “It’s called localism,” said Minett. If you’re looking for an example, it doesn’t get much more local than The Bookshelf in Guelph, Ont., a store run by Minett’s family. When the pandemic clamped down, he said they came up with a complementary pairing of books and wine. “We had a liquor licence. [Premier] Doug Ford in Ontario said, ‘Hey, you can deliver it.'” Minett said The Bookshelf’s book and wine deliveries have already reached thousands.