April 29 is Authors for Indies day. In BC, 23 independent bookstores will be participating, with local authors helping out as guest booksellers throughout the day. (You can see the BC stores and schedule here.)
“Running an independent bookstore is an act of love that supports readers and authors alike, and in doing this, they enrich local communities immeasurably. Indie bookstores are a vital part of our lives, but they need our support,” writes author Jennifer Robinson on the Authors for Indies website.
Yes, independent bookstores certainly do need our support, on this day and on every other day of the year.
But while the struggling independent bookseller may seem like a recent-ish phenomenon, the victim of big-box stores and online retailers and increased competition from non-book-related sources, the fate of BC’s indie bookstores has been lamented for more than a century.
Here’s what J. Francis Bursill, writing as “F.P.”—aka Felix Penne—wrote in his regular literature column in the Vancouver Daily World on May 31, 1916!
“Publishers and booksellers are today facing many problems. There is the unsolved problem of inducing something like a proportionate expenditure of the income of the people for personal and family libraries at a stage of social evolution when the motion picture, the automobile, athletics and out-of-door games and other temptations to spend money and time are keeping the relative rate of book buying of the country comparatively low as compared with former days.
“The local book shop does not flourish as it once did, and it is not kept by persons who know and love books as often as it once was…
“Personally, I sigh for the old book shops which flourished 20 or 30 years ago, where one met friends and heard “gossip” good enough for a modern “Pepy’s Diary” or a Boswell’s Johnson. I fear those old “book parlors” are gone—if not “forever” at least for a long time.”
As you can see by visiting any of the wonderful stores participating in Authors for Indies, we still do have some amazing “book parlours.” But they continue to need us to show them the love.