On June 17, Retail Council of Canada announced the return of www.FindaBookstore.ca, an online map tool that lets the public find independent bookstores across the country. We spoke to Lesley Fletcher, the Manager of Book Industry Member Services for RCC, about the project.
BookNet Canada: Tell us a little bit about the Find a Bookstore project.
Lesley Fletcher: The CBA first launched the Find a Bookstore map tool over ten years ago, and re-launching it has been a top priority for our bookselling members. Since I started with RCC, I’ve been working with booksellers to build this tool, so that they can use it to highlight their own stores, and to support other independent bookstores across the country.
The map helps book-buyers connect with independent bookstores, whether it’s finding their local indie or discovering shops to visit when they’re travelling across Canada. We want to make it easy for conscious shoppers to find and support these stores, and to provide a tool that publishers and authors can use to connect with and support booksellers.
Despite what you may be hearing in the news about struggling indie bookstores, the Find A Bookstore map highlights the fact that Canadians really do still have access to many independent booksellers. I thought I knew every bookstore in my area, but even I have discovered new stores since the map was launched!
What kinds of independent retailers are eligible to appear on the map? And what should a retailer do if they want to participate?
We are open to any independent retailer who sells books! Specialty, new, used – any kind of bookstore is welcome. We are looking to develop our book industry membership so we can stand together in support of projects like this as we continue to grow. I’m happy to say that I’ve already had an influx of emails and calls from customers and store owners who want to see their favourite stores included on the map, and I hope that the book community continues to reach out. Any bookseller who wants to participate can contact me directly at 416-467-3768 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What initiatives for booksellers are coming up next from RCC?
Later this year, RCC plans to launch a “shop independent/shop local” campaign for our independent retailers, with tools and resources specific to our bookselling members. The Find a Bookstore map is one of the first tools we have launched in support of the campaign, and one that we want to continue to develop for consumers, for independent booksellers, and for publishers and authors.
We are in the process of developing working groups and communications streams between our members to allow us to work on developing our projects, and have been working with a Bookseller Committee to learn about areas where our members can benefit from advocacy. We are also busy revamping our Libris Awards and developing information services, and we’ve been working to reconnect with other segments of the book industry (such as the Association of Canadian Publishers) to ensure that our booksellers stay well connected and well-informed, and are able to take advantage of opportunities for collaboration. All of our bookseller-specific member programs are listed on the RCC site.