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First Authors for Indies Day supports Canada’s independent bookstores

April 28, 2015
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By Amy Robertson

A graduate of the Writer’s Studio is creating a unique opportunity for authors to give back to Canada’s independent bookstores.

The first-ever Canadian Authors for Indies Day, spearheaded by Janie Chang, takes place on May 2 across the country. More than 600 Canadian authors will be volunteering as guest booksellers at 115 independent bookstores from B.C. to Newfoundland.

Janie Chang

“The goal,” says Chang, “is to give independent bookstores a great retail day and raise their profile. Bookselling is a tough business, and independent bookstores have suffered the most in recent years. Yet they continue to support new and local authors, play a vital role in the reading community, and strengthen the local economy.”

For many authors, the day is an opportunity to thank bookstores that have supported their careers. Authors will recommend books to customers, give readings, and sign books; many stores have other special activities planned.

Chang graduated from the Writer’s Studio in 2011 and later published Three Souls, which was nominated for two prestigious awards and recently optioned for filmHer time at the Writer’s Studio instilled in her the importance of supporting the writing community. When she read about an event called Indies First! in the U.S., she decided to replicate it north of the border.

Chang points out that local bookstores do much more than sell books—they’ve become cultural hubs where readings, literary events and other community gatherings take place. Additionally, revenue often feeds back into other local businesses.

“Studies show that if you spend $100 at a local bookstore, most of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community sees only a fraction,” says Chang.

Chang also hopes the event will reacquaint customers with bookstores. “Much as I appreciate technology, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want it standing between me and the book-buying experience,” she says. “When I go to a bookstore, I love browsing around. I love that knowledgeable staff will recommend titles an algorithm might never send your way. ”

For a list of bookstores in each province that are hosting authors, visit www.authorsforindies.com.

Several other Writer’s Studio graduates will be participating in Authors for Indies Day, including E.R. Brown, Harry Karlinsky, Ayelet Tsabari, Renée Saklikar, Cathy Borrie, and Arleen Paré, who won the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2014.