The book trade in Canada at all levels has been both helped and hurt by Covid-19, the Canadian News Service (via Yahoo News) reported, adding that the pandemic "was hard on brick-and-mortar stores, which had to contend with weeks or months of forced closures, capacity limits and cancellations of book launches and meet-and-greets," but "creative marketing solutions learned during lockdowns, as well as a pandemic-spurred rise in reading, give them hope for the future of their industry."
Chris Hall, co-owner McNally Robinson Booksellers, with stores in of Winnipeg, Man., and Saskatoon, Sask., said that while 2020 was a "catastrophic" year for many small bookstores, including his own, there are signs of a rebound. CNS noted that "while every store is different, he said his chain 'roared back' in 2021, surpassing its 2019 sales despite pandemic challenges and the near-collapse of the market for book categories such as travel."
Hall, who is also president of the board for the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association, cited Canadians' increasing willingness to support local businesses and to more people who picked up reading as factors: "After a couple of months, there's only so much Netflix you can watch."
He expressed optimism that the pandemic has been long enough to entrench their reading habits, and hopes independent bookstores will be able to combine improved capability to operate online with the attraction of a physical space for readers to meet. "Amazon doesn't have a place for you to go."
At Montreal's Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, Sruti Islam, a bookseller at Librairie St-Henri in Montreal and creator of the online literary space Weird Era, took part in a discussion recently on how book promotion has evolved. Islam said the pandemic brought challenges related not only to closures and canceled events but also to supply chains, which led to back-ordered books sometimes taking a long time to arrive. On the other hand, it created an opportunity to host online events, which were well-attended.
She said she has seen rising interest among the public in political and social issues, which leads to "more interaction from our neighborhood clientele wanting to engage more politically with texts and wanting to support local business more than ever."
The International Publishers Association has released the new report A Collective Commitment to a Sustainable, Resilient and Inclusive Future, following its two-year investigation to gauge the effects of Covid-19 on global publishing and "to map pathways to a more resilient, future-ready book sector." The study ends phase one of the International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience (InSPIRe) plan, which is backed by more 60 organizations linked to the publishing industry.
The report details the findings of a round of consultations, workshops and discussions with publishers, booksellers, authors, educators, bookfairs, international reading and literacy organizations and free expression groups. It lists challenges and opportunities in five priority areas:
- Strengthening copyright for the digital age
- Countering rising threats to freedom to publish
- Addressing sustainability through collective action
- Mainstreaming diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Mastering technology for innovation and transformation
The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair will be held May 23-29, with Germany returning as the guest of honor with a large physical presence following last year's limited capacity due to the pandemic. Held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the fair showcases more than 1,000 exhibitors and presents a series of events promoting cross-cultural dialogue across its professional and cultural programs that focus on language, translation, literature and poetry.
Under the auspices of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) at the Department of Culture and Tourism, with the continued collaboration of Frankfurter Buchmesse, the fair will offer more than 450 events aimed at audiences of all ages, highlighting the literary and cultural heritage of the Middle East and strengthening ties between the Arab and international publishing communities.
"We are pleased to welcome back the international publishing community to the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair for our most ambitious event yet," said HE Dr. Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the ALC. "We are creating an ideal platform for members of the international book industry and literary world, as well as global media and technology brands, to come together and share their knowledge and expertise across cultures, industries, and disciplines. This year, we look forward to presenting the first International Congress of Publishing and Creative Industries--a think tank on the latest trends in publishing and technology. We are proud to host distinguished speakers from the literary, publishing, and arts sectors, and we offer our gratitude to our dedicated partners and stakeholders who have made this industry event possible."
Bookseller Moment: Lovat bookstore in Villorba, Veneto, Italy, advised: "Take Time to Relax. Take Time to Lovat." --Robert Gray