In the excruciating slog through the treacle that has been the implementation of print distribution for my novel, Baby Jane, there has been one bright spot: four independent booksellers around my home near Vancouver have agreed to stock my book. While the likes of Amazon give me access to the huge U.S. market, and (eventually, or so I’m told) to Canadian markets outside of my home turf, having my local bookseller give my book a go is particularly satisfying. It says, more so than anything, “We support you.” And I hope you’ll consider supporting them in return.
Few independents survived the madness of consolidation and box store mentality that began in the 90s, with Vancouver witnessing the demise of local fixture Duthie’s and the closing of the physical Biz Books and Sophia Books in favour of a solely online presence. The loss of these independent bookstores is not just about nostalgia for hours spent wandering through book-laden shelves or curling up to read an excerpt while the store’s cat purred at my feet, but about a very real cultural loss. Chain stores are not about books as culture but rather about books as commodities, which all too often translates into unknowledgeable staff who don’t know Carol Shields from Dan Brown and must reply upon the ISBN. Case in point: decades ago I walked into a Coles looking for Michael Ondaajte’s Running in the Family, and when the gum-chewing shop girl told me to check the sports section, I turned on my heel and never went back to a chain bookstore again.
I have always found independent booksellers to be seemingly bottomless wells of information and passion, who have introduced me to new writers or spent hours discussing the finer points of my craft. I have gone to them for research, for suggestions and, now that I’ve published, for distribution.
So if you’re looking for a good book, consider a wander down to any one of these four fine independent bookstores, while we still have them in our midst.
Blackberry Books, 3 – 1666 Johnston Street (The Loft, Granville Island), Vancouver, 604.685.6188; http://www.bbooks.ca/.
I’m doing a book signing at Blackberry on July 17 between noon and 2 p.m. It’ll be my first so do come by and say hello so I don’t end up at the table looking like a wallflower at a high school dance.
Brown’s Books, 3740 East Hastings Street, Burnaby, 604.294.9311; http://www.brownsbooks.ca/
Companion Book, 4094 East Hastings Street, Burnaby, 604.293.2665; http://www.companionbook.com/
Hager Books, 2176 West 41st Ave, Vancouver, 604.263.9412; http://hagerbooks.ca/