Independent bookstores are at the heart of the neighbourhoods they serve, catering to local tastes and interests, encouraging lively exchange via store-sponsored book clubs and author events, and knowledgeably and passionately connecting readers with books they love. On Independents' Day we celebrate their importance as local cultural hubs and vitial contributors to Canada's diverse literary community.
Independents' Day is now in its fifth year, and has been slowly growing and gaining momentum each year. The focus of the day allows local bookstores to spotlight and raise awareness of a few key issues that affect their businesses, including:
- The importance of independent bookstores in promoting regional/local literature, works that might slip off the radar by purchases being done from a single central location for a chain
- The contribution independently owned businesses make to their local economy -- ie, money spent at one's local bookstore helps sustain the local economy, create local jobs -- indie businesses often support local causes (teams, schools, charities and local arts organizations)
- The role independent booksellers play in creating a community that favours the arts and promotes economic success by encouraging artists and innovators to stay there
- The potential for major parts of Canada's bookselling industry (a chief disseminator of Canadian culture) to fall to foreign ownership.
Here is a listing of just some of the events that will be taking place at bookstores across Canada on Saturday, October 16th. There's also a Facebook Page with links to various activities and events.
If you don't see your neighbourhood bookstore on the list, don't despair -- this is just SOME of the stuff going on. Many more booksellers are out there featuring events, hosting authors, and doing something a little bit special just to celebrate this day. Give them a call, or better yet, drop in. Even if your local bookstore isn't doing any advertised event for this, Saturday October 16th is the perfect day just to swing by and check them out, just to say hi, just to engage in a little bit of that experience of a bookstore as a cultural meeting place of minds.
You never know just what you'll come across.
As for myself, in my role as President of Canadian Booksellers Association, I'll be visiting Another Story Bookshop (315 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto) and Mabel's Fables (662 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto) along with Toronto Mayor David Miller (the author of Witness to a City) who is showing his city's support for local bookstores and local businesses and helping to celebrate "Independents' Day."
·The biggest challenge for this day, of course, might not be having nothing fun to do or nowhere to go if you're a book lover, but trying to decide where to go and who to see. There are simply too many great authors being featured in too many great bookstores across the country to be able to see them all. But what a great problem to have.
Imagine a dystopian future where there are no local bookstores, no celebratory events in your own neighbourhood, no local place where you can meet an author, meet with fellow book lovers, where there are no strong ties to local communities and local art cultures, where you can't experience the serendipitous joy of walking into a bookstore without a clue as to what you want and walking out with a truly unique treasure in hand.
If imagining that frightens you even a little, then you really should get out on Saturday and celebrate your independents.