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Booksellers eager to celebrate Canadian Independent Bookstore Day in person

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day (CIBD) is back, and this year, booksellers are looking forward to welcoming customers to mark the occasion in a less restricted fashion.

CIBD relaunched last year after the Canadian Independent Bookstore Association took over the event from the Retail Council of Canada. But the 2021 festivities were subdued in many places due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. This year, with public-health protocols loosened across much of the country, booksellers are eager to welcome the book-buying public back to in-person celebrations of local indies.

To imagine people coming in to celebrate [CIBD] and not have to count heads, that’s really amazing,” says Brandi Morpurgo, owner of Edmonton’s Daisy Chain Book Co. Morpurgo has planned a day’s worth of activities that include signings and Q & As with three local authors, as well as a game of bookstore bingo and giving out cookies from a local bakery.

“It’s going to be a party,” Morpurgo says. “We get to thank people who support independent bookstores and remind them why they should choose us.”

After enjoying an “absolutely fantastic” if unconventional CIBD last year that featured six local authors (many of whom came in costume) writing in the store’s window over the course of the day, Brome Lake Books’s co-owner Danny McAuley says the store is looking forward to moving ahead with some “relatively normal events” inside the shop to mark the date. Two local authors, one of whom was a regular customer as a child, will be in attendance at the store in Knowlton, Quebec.

“It really is a whole fun project,” McAuley says about CIBD. “We feel like we’re part of the bigger [bookselling] community, and that’s really good.”

At Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario, owner and CIBA board director Shelley Macbeth is bringing the whole street along for the celebration.

“As the go-big-or-go-home girl, I have a three-page spreadsheet that I’m balancing right now,” Macbeth tells Q&Q. Activities at the store are set to include a story walk down Brock Street, a book-spine poetry icebreaker activity, 10 authors acting as booksellers, a host of children’s activities in the store’s studio space, and a partnership with the local revue movie theatre whereby customers who purchase books that have been turned into movies will receive a gift certificate to the Roxy Theatre. Online activities, such as a scavenger hunt and social media contests, will be available for those who would prefer to celebrate virtually.

“It’s a very up-tempo day. There’s something going on all the time,” Macbeth says.

Again this year, CIBA is a running a contest for CIBD. With proof of purchase made from a Canadian independent bookstore on April 30, book buyers can enter a draw for three prizes of gift cards to an indie bookstore of the winner’s choice.

Indie booksellers say that the day is as much about celebrating their customers as themselves and their bookselling colleagues.

For us it’s always been a way of thanking customers for shopping with us,” says Jessica Walker, manager at Victoria’s Munro’s Books. “We try and toot the horn for some of the other booksellers in the neighbourhood, particularly some of the small secondhand stores, to emphasize that it is really a community.”