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Canadian Independent Bookstore Day on April 29 is a chance for indies to shine

a brightly coloured illustration of a busy sidewalk with three bookstores on the street. Signs on the stores say "Canadian Independent Bookstore Day"

CIBA commissioned illustrator Alex MacAskill to create custom artwork for Canadian Independent Bookstore Day 2023.

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is fast approaching, and independent booksellers are gearing up to mark the day designed to celebrate the important role they play in their communities.

“It gives us a chance to celebrate our role in the community, and what our strengths are,” said Chris Hall, co-owner of Winnipeg’s McNally Robinson and president of the Canadian Independent Booksellers’ Association (CIBA) board of directors. “We want to remind people that we are part of their communities and part of their local economies and part of their cultural fabric. This is a day to allow our fans to help us spread the word that we’re a valuable part of the communities that we’re in.” 

This year on April 29, booksellers will be celebrating the third edition of the relaunched Canadian Independent Bookstore Day. The day comes as in-person book shopping is showing a bump in popularity after several years of COVID-related decline.

According to the Canadian Book Consumer Survey from industry non-profit BookNet, the number of Canadians who visited a bookstore was up in 2022 over 2021, from 55% to 64%. (The percentage of online bookstore visits has remained consistent over the last three years, according to BookNet.)

Hall isn’t surprised by those numbers, and says they are born out in the aisles of independent bookstores.

“We are definitely seeing good traffic in the stores, and a resurgence, maybe better than prior to COVID for some of us,” Hall said. “I think people crave getting out of their basements, away from their online purchasing, and getting out into the physical environment, touching and feeling the things they are interested in.”

Besides store-level events that vary at indies across the country, CIBA is once again running a Canada-wide contest open to all book buyers, where every book purchased from an indie on Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is worth one entry into the 2023 CIBD Contest for Book Lovers with a grand prize of a $1,000 gift card to an independent bookstore of the winner’s choice.


Canadian independent bookstores’ bestselling Canadian titles of 2023:

  1. Ducks, Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly Publications)
  2. Greenwood, Michael Christie (McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House Canada)
  3. Women Talking, Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House Canada)
  4. The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, Gabor Maté with Daniel Maté (Knopf Canada/PRHC)
  5. The Sleeping Car Porter, Suzette Mayr (Coach House Books
  6. Hotline, Dimitri Nasrallah (Véhicule Press)
  7. Bad Cree, Jessica Johns (HarperCollins)
  8. Five Little Indians, Michelle Good (Harper Perennial/HarperCollins)
  9. Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel (Harper Perennial/HCP)
  10. Old Babes in the Wood, Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart/PRHC)
  11. Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey/PRHC)
  12. VenCo, Cherie Dimaline (Random House of Canada/PRHC)
  13. The Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline (Cormorant Books)
  14. 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality, Bob Joseph (Page Two Books)
  15. True Reconciliation: How to Be a Force for Change, Jody Wilson-Raybould (McClelland & Stewart/PRHC)
  16. Barren Grounds, David Robertson (Puffin Canada/PRHC)
  17. A World of Curiosities, Louise Penny (Minotaur Books/Raincoast Books)
  18. Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory, Sarah Polley (Penguin Canada/PRHC)
  19. Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton (McClelland & Stewart/PRHC)
  20. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest (pb), Suzanne Simard (Penguin Canada/PRHC)

Indie bookstores’ top sellers from Canadian-owned publishers in 2023:

  1. Ducks, Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly Publications)
  2. The Sleeping Car Porter, Suzette Mayr (Coach House Books)
  3. Hotline, Dimitri Nasrallah (Véhicule Press)
  4. The Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline (Cormorant Books)
  5. 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality, Bob Joseph (Page Two Books)
  6. EmbersOne Ojibway’s Meditations, Richard Wagamese (Douglas and McIntyre)
  7. Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice (ECW Press)
  8. Still This Love Goes On, Buffy Sainte-Marie (Greystone Books)
  9. Be a Good Ancestor, Leona Prince, Gabrielle Prince, and Carla Joseph, ill. (Orca Book Publishers)
  10. This Place: 150 Years Retold, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, et al. (HighWater Press/Portage & Main Press)
  11. Wayi Wah!: Indigenous Pedagogies, Jo Chrona (Portage & Main Press)
  12. Laughing with the TricksterOn Sex, Death, and Accordions, Tomson Highway (House of Anansi Press)
  13. Where To from Here, Bill Morneau (ECW Press)
  14. All the Quiet Places, Brian Thomas Isaac (TouchWood Editions)
  15. Cold Case BC: The Stories Behind the Province’s Most Sensational Murder and Missing Person Cases, Eve Lazarus (Arsenal Pulp Press)
  16. Sometimes I Feel Like a River, Danielle Daniel (Groundwood Books)
  17. Love You Forever (pb), Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw, ill. (Firefly Books)
  18. Some Hellish, Nicholas Herring (Goose Lane Editions)
  19. On Writing and Failure, Stephen Marche (Biblioasis)
  20. The Paper Bag Princess (Classic Munsch), Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko, ill. (Annick Press)

The bestseller lists are drawn from sales data gathered by Bookmanager from 246 independent Canadian booksellers between January 1 and April 8, 2023.