Building Bridges, Not Walls: Successful Publishing & Retailing Collaborations – Tech Forum 2019


– [Noah] Morgen Young,
Morgen has worked in the Canadian publishing industry since 2006 and
considers herself very lucky to be a part of the amazing team at Ampersand. Beginning as a sales rep in Southwestern
Ontario, she has spent her career working with many amazing independent chain and
big box retailers across the country. Morgen became Vice President of Ampersand
in 2016 and teaches book sales and marketing at Centennial College. Please, join me in welcoming our panel. – [Morgen] For those of you
who don’t know, Ampersand is a national sales agency. So I put that out there. And one of my favourite things about my
job at Ampersand is how I get to aid in the collaboration between publishers
and bookstores, and between publishers, bless you, and sales reps. I’m sorry,
between publishers and libraries. What is probably the most important
part of my job is, not just talking, although I definitely do a lot of that,
but I think it’s listening. I listen to our publishers tell us about
the books that they’re going to publish and why they’re going to publish them. I listen to my booksellers, and buyers,
and librarians tell me about what’s working for them and not
working for them, and why. And things that they’ve done in the past
to promote a title, or an event, or their store, or their library. And things that they would like to do,
would like to try to do in the future. And, of course, the things that they hear
from their customers and their patrons. My colleagues at Ampersand are,
of course, having similar conversations with different booksellers, and buyers,
and librarians all across the country. And we make a point of regularly coming
together and sharing that information with each other and with our publishers. I cannot overstate how valuable this
insight is into the strength and success of Ampersand. Sharing this information not only
allows us as individuals to share our successes, and our failures,
and our triumphs, and our frustrations, which, by the way, all by itself is
really important, but it also allows us to provide feedback to our publishers
on titles, trends, and changes in the industry. And when we do, they know that that’s
coming from a very large knowledge base with a vast amount of experience. In short, it makes us all
better at what we do. So, we’re very lucky in this industry that
we have a lot of people who are very creative and passionate,
and who love what they do. And not only that, but they’re happy to
share their experiences and their best practices with the rest
of the industry in this same way. Because what is the expression? A rising tide lifts all boats, right? So our panel is a perfect example of that. Laura Ash, welcome, Laura,
is the co-owner of Another Story Bookshop in Roncesvalles neighbourhood in Toronto. Drawn to Another Story for its commitment
to making social impact through books, Laura is determined to ensure Sheila
Koffman’s legacy lives on and Another Story continues to
bring alternative titles to new generations of readers. Megan Byers grew up surrounded by books,
literally, Maya Byers, her mother, started Babar Books in 1986
when she was just a toddler. As a part of a family-owned and
operated children’s bookstore, she is committed to promoting
literacy and a love of reading. Megan is the manager in charge
of schools, libraries, social media and events, and she hosts a
monthly teen advisory board. Chris Hall has worked in the
book industry at McNally Robinson Booksellers since 1996. He started as a bookseller,
and in 2015 officially took over as co-owner with
Lori Baker, his business partner. They now own McNally Robinson and Prairie
Ink Restaurants in Winnipeg and Saskatoon, as well as Skylight Books,
a school wholesaler based in Winnipeg. They opened a new small store at
The Forks in Winnipeg in early 2018. Ruth Linka began her career in publishing
at Coteau Books, a literary publisher working in promotions and editorial. Since then, she’s worked at
Raincoast Books, NeWest Press, and in 2001, she formed Brindle & Glass
with her business partner Lee Shedden, for which they were awarded “Emerging
Publisher of the Year” at the 2003 Alberta Book Awards. Arriving at TouchWood in 2007,
with Brindle & Glass in tow, Ruth worked as the publisher
for TouchWood Editions, of which B&G is the literary imprint. In 2014, Ruth moved to Orca Book
Publishers where she is now a partner. She is currently on the Association of
Canadian Publishers council and the Victoria Book Prize Society. In the past, she served on boards such
as the Association of Book Publishers of BC, the Literary Press Group of Canada,
the Book Publishers of Alberta, and various community theatres and… Athmika Punja, Athmika works closely with
sales fulfilment and customer service on projects to improve their customer
supply chain…to improve their supply chain, sorry. Her team at Penguin Random House
Canada covers customer operations, sales assistance, publisher operations
as well as co-op processes. Prior to her three years at PRHC,
she was in operations at ECW Press for four years. So, welcome, everybody. So we’ve had an awesome chance to chat a
couple of times leading up to this panel, which was awesome,
it was very helpful, I found. And a couple of things that we touched on
that I wanted to make sure that we brought up. The first one, I think I’m going to start
with a bookseller, so Laura. If it’s all right with you,
I’ll start with you. – [Laura] Sure. – Reader’s expectations surrounding
discoverability have changed a lot in recent years. This is just one reason that identifying
the next bestseller has gotten increasingly difficult,
and it is more often that retailers find themselves chasing
unexpected bestsellers. When this happens, supply chain reaction
time is even more important. So from the bookseller perspective,
what are ways that publishers can help with this? – So I’ll kind of take a certain direction
is that, one of the things I mentioned when we were talking earlier is
that for us, being in Toronto, it’s much easier for us to get books than
a lot of other places and we can keep our numbers down. But years ago, when we lost
a bunch of warehouses in Canada, it took a long time for that
to kind of catch up. You know, it was taking weeks
upon weeks to actually get books in. And now for the most part,
a lot of publishers have really understood that that, the turnaround
time is really important. It’s important because I don’t have to
order 50 of something each time. I can order, you know,
in quantities of 5 and 10. We can move things, we can turnaround
things and it just makes the entire process much easier. So for us, it’s publishers acknowledging
the fact that booksellers need to get books on a very timely basis. I don’t know if you guys
experience that in… – [Megan] Yes.
– Yeah. – Dealing with customers,
and I deal a lot with special orders, I need that turnaround time. I need to be able to say to them,
“I’m putting this book on order for you. I will call you in a
week when it arrives.” I need to be able to
give them a definite answer. Or my other option is to say,
“We’ll just call you when it arrives,” and they don’t know when that is. They’re less likely then to order from me. And especially when a title is popular. If I see already that I’ve sold maybe
three or four, then I’m going to, maybe even though I have still 10 in stock, then
I’m going to order another, you know, 5 or 10 because I see that it’s
moving quite quickly, quite fast. But I need to be able to
make sure that I don’t run out. And so, yeah, that’s definitely
a concern for me. – [Chris] Yeah, in my time over the years,
I feel like I don’t foresee bestsellers as well as I used to. The next book by, name
your familiar author, may or may not work as planned. So I find that there are titles,
as I start to refer to them as, that are just coming at me unexpectedly. And so I’m paying a lot more attention
than I used to the BookNet bestsellers because some of those books may
not be flying off my shelves yet. So I get on them and bring
in copies of those books. So I guess there’s two angles for me
is one is certainly the response time. If I am chasing those titles,
then the faster I am getting those back in, the better. And then the other side of it is,
if publishers aren’t as blind as I feel, to these bestsellers,
then the faster you can get word to me that something’s going to go or
you see the signs of it going, then we can respond that much earlier. So I would say that there’s a couple of
angles that would help on that front. – Ruth, from a publisher perspective,
what are some things that you find that you are doing in order to try and do
exactly that and chase those bestsellers? – [Ruth] Well, we’re always telling yoou
at sales conference that the books are going to be bestsellers. No, but seriously like I think for
any of the surprise books, you know, we keep a very close eye on inventory
so that we have the reprint arriving before we run out of stock. So I think that’s an important thing. We have our warehouses out practically on
the edge of the country, in Victoria, which is, somewhat, say here in Ontario,
not the smartest place to have a warehouse and a distribution centre. So we work really hard to get our orders
out the same day that we get them. So that at least we’re not holding things
up for that reason that, you know, there’s still the geography of Canada. But filling orders quickly and being as
responsive as we can on inventory. – Athmika. – [Athmika] There are many sales people
here who don’t want me to talk about what makes a bestseller. But, I think that from my work,
which often touches getting books to retailers as quickly as possible,
because consumer expectation has shifted like in the last few years to want things
more immediately, we found that investing in getting things to store faster,
making sure that all of the parts of our supply chain are working,
has had an overall impact on all of our books. And, so whether it’s special orders or
the title that you know is going to start moving fast or the title that you don’t
see coming, investing in supply chain and listening to retailers and the feedback
that they’re giving us from different parts of the country and making
changes to improve those things, has had a really important impact
on our overall business. – Yeah, absolutely. I feel like we ended up spending a lot of
time talking about the things that we do, but and in our conversation, we talked a
lot about what are some things that we would like to see done
that would make it better. Is there any comments about any of that?
I know that one of the big things, as we discussed, was discoverability and
data comes and plays a huge role in that. Another part, as Ruth had mentioned
before, was just the sheer geography of our country can cause some
problems, especially in our long winter. Happy first day of spring,
by the way, everybody. And also I had another thought in there,
that was, oh, and the big communication is obviously an enormous part of that. I mean, I was on my Christmas holidays,
of course, when one of our books that they weren’t sure exactly what it was going to
do, Fire and Fury, was suddenly, it was huge, as you know. So we were…oops, we were left in a position that suddenly
we were getting on the phone and on email at all hours, trying to make sure that we
had enough stock and the stock was in stores and the stock was everywhere
that we could possibly get it. So we didn’t miss out on those sales. Is there anything? – Well, one of the things that I found,
especially this holiday season, is that managed titles that we once had to
really worry about, we were actually starting to see bits and pieces of stock. So just from having conversations with
other booksellers, I think that managed titles were actually managed better.
Indies saw stock, whereas before you would see chapters in Indigo’s warehouses fill
up and, you know, people being like, “Oh, I can get it on Amazon, or at Costco,
or wherever.” We actually could say, “Guess what? We have stock too.” And I think that prior years,
I would have to say that that wasn’t always the case, any market was kind
of left out when you were kind of going down on the wire with some of the titles. So for us, I think that really helped
and that was something that we really appreciated. – I would describe the last
year as a bit of an anomaly. In the last several years,
I’ve felt well-treated and supplied. Years ago, not so much. Sales would all go somewhere else and then
there’d be out of stocks and we couldn’t get any more. That reared its head again this past
Christmas for printing issues and things, I think beyond everyone’s control. So I think it was an anomaly,
but I didn’t feel like I was ill-treated, it was just a confluence
of a number of events. – So booksellers really have their finger
on the pulse of trends in customer demand, and as such, in a great position to move
the dial in terms of trends and sales in this industry. The U.S. has IndieBound, which provides some awesome
opportunities for independent booksellers to influence book
sales and trends in that country. What are independent retailers in Canada
doing at their end to help create the next bestseller and what could be done? – I think that, in the spirit of
collaboration, keeping really open lines of communication between reps and the
folks internally, where the reps are being advocates for independent bookstores,
when those voices are really loud, the kind of support that a publisher is
able to put towards positioning something really well at an independent or targeting
an initiative towards independent booksellers is a lot higher. So I think that keeping those lines of
communication open is really the best way of doing that. – Yeah. – When I speak about unexpected best
sellers, that’s just part of the equation because we are generating our own
publicity and our own bestsellers. It’s actually, one of the key ways and the
primary way that I think of ourselves as independent, even more
than ownership definitions. We select the books we want to get behind,
and so our newsletter has our choices and as much as possible,
comes from our booksellers who are reading and myself, who reads as much as I can. And so we are constantly taking our best
shot at setting things up to succeed. We’re having a lot of luck. So that is something absolutely that we do
and successfully, our newsletter is kind of the core of that, but so are events, a
lot of our best sellers are event-driven. We set up displays for books. So a lot of that work is getting done. So my previous comments about bestsellers
that I’m not expecting is I just want more all the time. – Yeah, me too. I will add, since we’re here at BookNet
Tech Forum, one of the ways that BookNet has made it really easy to identify
where independents are very strong, is the Independents
Aggregate on SalesData. I think that makes it really visible to
publishers and the folks who are looking at that data, to see where independents
are doing really well with titles that aren’t necessarily finding that traction
in the rest of the marketplace. And when you have that kind of ground
as well for marketing and publicity, it also tells you maybe other ways that
you could be positioning that or other places you could be positioning that to
really make a book to get the most sales that it could. So using that is good for publishers. – Well, I think if and when we get
another Canadian Independent Booksellers Association,
we could then pull our resources as independents and do
what they’re doing in the U.S. to some degree, and we could help
then create the next bestseller. I mean, there are so many titles that I
don’t have a chance to read everything, and we specialize in children’s only,
so I don’t really bring in much adult. But I can then say, “Well, these are,
you know, five kids’ books that I adore,” and I will tell all the other
independents, “Well, if you are only going to take five books,
these are the five that you should take.” And the same with them. I could get the information,
“Oh, you love these two sort of adult, YA crossovers. Well, I’ll make sure
that I have those two.” And it’s also a way that we could support
more Canadian literature, as well, making sure that we’re not just taking
from the States, that we’re supporting our own culture. – I will champion everything that Megan
just said, because I think that, yes, indie association is something
that is necessary. But above that, I think that, I guess,
for us specifically, I will change hats. We are also a wholesaler,
so we do a lot of our work and a lot of our like bestsellers in that
department come from speaking directly with educators. So our staff read almost every YA
book, we have to pretty much vet everything because we’re always very
specific, if anyone knows our store, we’re very specific. So, yeah. So, it’s talking, it’s like that
one-on-one talking with kids, talking with teachers,
and collaborating that way. And that’s kind of how we generate
our bestsellers in the store, which it’s kind of nice because it’s not
just, you know, yes, we have staff picks, every bookshop has staff picks and we
push what we love, we’re all avid readers but it’s also that engagement with
other people that make it possible. – When working with schools and libraries,
they deal with specific topics. We just had a change in Quebec
for our Sex Ed curriculum, our sexuality education. They have a very long name for it now,
but it’s now starting in kindergarten. And so we’re looking at the backlist of
that, actually, looked at a lot of what happened here in Ontario to find some of
those titles and then now I look at every new book that’s coming in and say, “Oh,
does this relate to one of these themes that they’re now teaching and how
can I promote that or wedge it in?” – And I think that creating, I mean,
and that’s what this is about, right, it’s creating any opportunity for
all of us to talk to each other in order to compare best practices and hear what
are you doing that, where you’re finding more opportunities and who are you talking
to that helps you find the opportunities that you’re finding in your store. – Our sales reps are amazing too. I just really wanted to throw it out
there, that we have amazing sales reps, and they’re great because a lot of times,
it’s really hard, you’re schlepping thorugh catalogues and it’s like, “Okay,
I need something on a topic that maybe we don’t have a lot of,” and a
sales rep, they know their stuff. So it’s very easy to reach out to a few of
them and they can say, “This is going on, this is what’s new.” You know,
they have all the information there. – And they can help with
backlist as well, which is great. – I’m not her rep, by the way,
just to put that out there. But, yeah, I mean, if there’s… So
going back to the note of or the comment about CBA, so there are some
regional booksellers associations across the country. So what would need to happen in order
to bring about, and this is again a very big question. And is something that we could,
you know, everybody clear their schedules, please. But what needs to happen in order
for something like that to work? – Really, we need support. We’re booksellers. We’re not… – Financial support, you mean? – Well, any type of support, right? I mean, to start an association,
it’s great just to have a few people talking about it,
but none of us are experts. I mean, it’s an association on how to sell
books, I mean, you can talk to us but it’s bigger than that. And there has been, I think the one take
away I will say is that when having a conversation regarding an association,
there is a lot of energy behind it and there is a lot of energy that does
come from publishers, and we see it and we feel it. And I think that we just need some
sort of platform to, maybe not here, but we do need to have some sort of
platform to actually talk about it in a larger scale because there’s…you know,
as much as booksellers or sellers want it, publishers want it too,
because it’s a body of booksellers that you can speak towards, so. – I think the first time we talked about
this, Megan really highlighted some of the things that having a national
bookseller organization might support. And like, I was at Winter Institute
and it’s run by the American Booksellers Association, and, you know,
one of the ideas that they had was this publisher events grid,
and Edelweiss allows publishers to upload all of the titles that they’re
trying to position in the season that they’re selling. And it’s a tool that then allows all of
the booksellers nationally to look at the marketing plans for those titles
and submit event proposals. And it’s really the buy-in of all of the
publishers and all of the booksellers into that one system that allows for like
a much better, more robust way of planning your events and making sure that there are
events that are going to independent booksellers and making sure that when an
author is doing some kind of publicity or media tour, they’re taking advantage of
every opportunity to do an event and to reach as many readers as possible. I think that’s one of the things that,
like one idea, that comes out of having a national booksellers organization that
just helps sort of spearhead and advocate for tools and programs
like that finding legs. – And it’s a way that we
could all then work together. So, bookstores could sort of buddy up and
say, “Okay, well, this author will come to my store in the morning,” but then they
can go to a second store in the afternoon and we can put a joint proposal together
and just create more of a community, and then the publishers too would get
more publicity, I think through that, and I notice it’s often,
an author will go to Vancouver, Toronto, and maybe
one other Canadian city. And if you wanted to do a longer tour,
because we are such a large country, something like that,
I think could really help fill in those gaps, like doing a concert
tour for a band, you know. You have an indie author and he goes to
all the indie stores and you could get, I think, more bang for your buck. – It occurs me that we almost need some
sort of event that is an excuse to meet. I went to Albuquerque and met Megan. – Yes. – Now I’ve met Laura here. And I don’t know how feasible
it is for small stores to travel. So there’s time, there’s money
that’s needed to even bring… – There’s conference calling.
– …an independent… – Well, sure but that’s not the same as a
meeting but once in a while to actually meet and then the conference
calling, I think is much more productive thereafter. So, I mean, in terms of just legitimate
support to get something going, maybe we just need to pull some
money together and allow some flights to be purchased. – Have a party. – Have a party. – He wants to throws us a party. – Yeah, no it’s true.
– You’re all invited. Creating any opportunity for communication
like that would be really important. Do you think that, or maybe, Ruth,
in your experience on the West Coast, do you think that… I feel like there’s more booksellers
per capita out there, is that true? – Yeah, I kind of do too.
– So do you think that there is more communication
between the bookstores for that reason, like we just need more
– Well, there is an association… – …bookstores, is that what this
is coming down to, or part of it? – Maybe, I mean, there is an association
in BC for the booksellers and we, the publishers can talk to the association
as a whole or put something by them for a special promotion. So we, right now we’re running a read
local BC promotion that is between the publishers and the booksellers. But it’s sort of administered by the
Association on behalf of the booksellers. It also allows us to do more sort of
group communication, which is more efficient for everybody. We do a lot of work with
authors and schools. So if they go to a city for a school visit
then we try and let the bookstore in that city know that the author is going to be
in town, there might be an increased demand for their book while they’re there. But again, we have to remember to
do it or… There’s no automation, there’s no way of sort
of doing it efficiently. But, yeah, in BC, the bookstores
also are very collegial there. And I don’t know if that’s
the case everywhere. But what we were talking about earlier
where, you know, you would share your five favourite books,
I think that sounds great. But what seems to be a little bit more the
case, for instance, in Victoria is the five bestsellers at one store may
not be the same at the other store down the street. They kind of create their own brand
and have maybe a different market. So maybe they feel they don’t compete
as much so there’s collegiality. – Yeah, I think that’s an important part
of their success as well, right? They’ve each found
their individual markets. I mean, and maybe that’s also where
communication is important, right? So they know that these
are your five favourite books. These are the ones that you’re really
promoting and you’re going to do well with. So if you were down the street,
you would, regardless of your focus, maybe collegiality means you’re not
focusing on those titles, you know? Do you find that you have a relationship
with the other booksellers in Toronto that you talk to them, and if there’s
opportunity to talk to them, do you make a point? – Yeah. I mean, I think, that since I’m in a very
unique position because I’m a new owner, so I have tons of excuses to
ask people to hang out with me. – Good. But I think that, no, I think that for me
it’s not been too much of an issue. The books shop that I help run is very
different than most bookshops in the city. So I don’t know if people
actually look at me as competition. I mean, I would hope not because…
– No, no, I think that that’s right. – …I think that for indies, and I don’t know if everyone feels this
way, but my competition is not the indie next door, or the indie down the street,
or the indie in the next neighbourhood. For me, if another bookshop opened up
close to me, I find that actually very exciting because that means
that the industry is very healthy. And then that means that there’s
less buying happening elsewhere. But no, I think that. I would like to say
that things are different and similar, but I feel maybe deep down that I
know that they’re not, that there needs to be more collaboration. I mean, I will say on the record,
that Ontario is the only province that doesn’t have an association. So that might be telling in itself. – I think what you said about your
competitor not being the indie bookstore in your town or whatever
is really important. And that’s partly where, I think,
all of us, but certainly publishers can do more to educate our market and our readers
and your readers to buy local and that, you know, fast is not always the best. And that there are other options and
other things that you get by going into a bookstore. So I think that’s an ongoing
campaign that we should all be participating in.
– Yeah, absolutely. – Well…
– Hear, hear. – …can I just say, one of
the things that publishers are starting to do well,
and we’re on social media a lot, is that they actually do
recommend books shops more. We do a lot of events. We’re in Toronto, a lot of
authors come through. So all the bookstores
here benefit from that. But, you know, they make sure that
they’re always asking for our logo, they’re always making sure that we’re…
You know, some of the greatest events we ever have, for me isn’t sometimes how many
books we sell, but the fact that the person who’s presenting from
the publisher says great things about my bookshop. So I don’t know how many times you
sometimes go to an event and no one mentions that books are for
sale and who they’re from. Well, when those little things happen,
it means so much because you’re letting an entire community,
that might not be my community, but an entire community of booksellers
know like, “Oh, it’s an independent. I haven’t heard of them before. Let me check them out. Oh, it’s their book marker.” So I think there’s a lot of
that happening now. And I’m loving it. So I don’t know if you guys have…
– That’s great. – …experienced the same thing
with some of the stuff you do. – Yeah, absolutely. – You know? – I think every event that we do,
we get a couple of new customers, somebody new who hasn’t
been to the store before. And once someone comes into our store,
they almost always come back unless they like move away. But I hear nothing but great things, “Oh,
my God, I’ve never been here before. I’m definitely coming back. This place is lovely.” – That’s good.
– And we try and always give the best
experience as possible. So I like doing in-store events. – Yeah, to bring in people in is… – Because I think that’s the best
way to get them and keep them. – That’s great. And talking about Laura’s comment about
social media, and it really does make a difference to get that…
– It does. – …to be tagged, and recognized,
and all of those things, and clearly, it’s going to show how
little I know about social media. But I hear from our publishers all the
time as well that the reverse is also true, if you picture me taking
pictures of books and posting them on social media, or something that you’re
doing to promote a display, or an event, or a theme of something that you’re
doing really well with in-store, when it’s their books to tag them,
tag the author and the publisher, we hear a lot about that. We’re always very
excited when that happens. So thank you about that. – It’s one of my theories for why in
this day and age there are so many surprising titles that are suddenly
bestsellers, because word of mouth now is social media. So if I read a book and enjoy it and tell
my friends, I don’t just tell half a dozen people, I tell 100 plus. – That’s right. – So that’s when these
things start to explode. So the more we’re tapped into, A, taking
advantage of that and playing our own role within it, but also responding to it is,
yeah, tying that back into sales, and ordering, and so on. – And the logistics, and the timing,
and the supply chain, and all of that. And we had mentioned before about how one
of the things that independent bookstores are really good at is, and again,
you have to go in-store for this, is if I’m looking for this book that I’ve
heard about on social media and you don’t have it in stock, but an indie is
a great place to hear, “Well, we don’t have that one,
but if you’re interested in that one, can I recommend this one instead?” – Also, if you forget the
name of the book. If you come in and say,
“It had a blue cover,” there’s a good chance I’ll know which book that is… – That’s true. – …which you might not get at…
– You can’t google “the one with the
blue cover,” right? Yeah. – It’s been hard.
– Yeah, it’s true. Or you can, but, yeah, it’s a lot harder. – And we also hand-sell Canadian titles. We hand-sell our local authors. You don’t find that anywhere else. – Can I hijack the rest of the panel? – Yeah, what’s that? – I’d like to advocate for something based
on this morning’s keynote address, and that is indigenous publishing. When we set up our store in The Forks,
it’s 1000 square feet. We have a 25,000 square-foot store
in Winnipeg and in Saskatoon, we have about 45 shelves of indigenous
books in the big stores. We put in 15 in the 1000
square-foot store at The Forks. The Forks and Winnipeg is in an ancient
meeting site for indigenous people. So it felt right, it felt like something
we do well, we do a lot of events with indigenous books. And the response has been amazing. The whole community is buying
books from that store. Families coming in and buying kids
indigenous books for their kids, from all the communities of Winnipeg. I think it’s a real necessity in this
country and in our city in particular, in our two cities, because Winnipeg
and Saskatoon are on the front edge of this calamity. And so, yeah, there are many,
many stories to be told from that community. And I would urge everyone to tap
into the great storytellers that are coming from there. Sorry. – Don’t be sorry. I think that that’s great. And I think that that’s exactly why you
want to have a conversation with your booksellers because it’s exactly the
kind of feedback that we’re looking for to take back to publishers in
order to fulfil that kind of demand, which I think that they’re doing and that
is a trend that we’ve heard started more in the West and it’s taken a little while
for those kinds of books on indigenous topics by indigenous authors to really
take off in Ontario, anyways. And now we’re really seeing it as well. It’s true. [crosstalk]. – Absolutely, and a lot of our
shelf space is taken up by local publishers. So they’re from Manitoba in Saskatchewan. They’re the ones producing these things. So it just needs to spread from there. – Yeah. – One of the things that I thought was
interesting was, someone had mentioned earlier about there’s like a lack of data. And fair, there’s a lack of data because
bookstores might not be taking a chance, but there actually are bookshops
who are taking a chance. And maybe you’re just
looking at the data wrong. I mean, I don’t know much about data but
if you look at the bookshops that their mandate is to make sure that they have
clear content, black authors, LGBTQ, trans, indigenous and see how well they’re
doing, you’ll realize that there is a need for that. There’s a want for that. And there’s no risk, like… – No, there isn’t. It’s not altruism. – No, just I don’t understand, it’s… – I run a teen advisory
board/book club. And if you speak to the teens,
none of them are turned off by LGBT. They’re actually craving it. They want more. They want more diversity. We did a book, Dear Martin and my store
is in a pretty white middle-class area, and there was a girl who said,
“I never would have read this book. I’m so glad I did. I didn’t realize that this could be
someone’s life,” just because she’s 13 and just hasn’t been exposed
to anything really yet. So that’s just because…
– That’s awesome. – …they’re not, you know, yes,
we want to have books written by people of colour for
people of colour, but we also, white people also read those books too. A good book is a good book.
– Yeah, no, contrary to what some people think. – Yeah.
– Right? Yeah, no, it’s true. – Like you don’t need to look like that
character to respond to a character. – One of the things at BNC,
Noah provided a very cool statistic, and to go back to that comment
that you made about, you really are, independents really do champion
Canadian-authored titles. The statistic was that 10% of all
print books sold in Canada are Canadian-authored titles, but if you just look at the
independents, 20% of those books sold through independents across
Canada are Canadian-authored. So why do you think that is? – We support local. – And you do it very consciously,
do you think the vast majority of those are just your local authors,
local to you as opposed to local to Laura, you know what I mean, or is it Canadian?
– I support local as in Pointe-Claire,
as in Montreal, as in Quebec, as in Canada. – You do, yeah, I think that’s great.
– I consider Canadian local. – Yeah. I feel like I have 12 more
questions about that. That’s great. But before I do that,
does anybody else want to…? – Well, I would define that in terms of
diversity too, that I want a certain amount of local in our newsletter, and I
want a certain amount of regional, and I want a certain amount of Canadian,
and then beyond that, we’ll go. So it’s a choice that we make too. – Yeah. I mean, so it’s as opposed to. And
as you say, a vast majority of the titles on those shelves for indigenous voices
are from your local publishers as well. So they’re also answering and responding
to a need and opportunity there as well. Do you think that there are opportunities
that come from Canadian publishers that don’t come from non-Canadian publishers or
do you think that there are opportunities that should come from Canadian publishers
in order to help with that more? Because, of course,
it’s what we all want, right? – I think we’re up against marketing
there because the size of the U.S. is just so big to be able to
generate all that excitement. So, part of the challenge is to generate
excitement about Canadian stories and our customers respond to local stories. They love local stories. And so then they love regional stories
and they love Canadian stories, they want to read these things. It’s just how do you have them
come into our store looking for that book? That’s the trick. And so we need to get those social media,
that buzz going for Canadian books. – I think that that support that comes
from independents for local content, really does support Canadian publishing
programs and creates spaces where authors feel like they are valued, and taken care
of, and that the work that they’re doing is important, and so it really does
contribute to the ecosystem of Canadian publishing in an important way that
supports authors, people that work in those publishing programs
as well as readers. So I think that statistic is part of how
we should be thinking about how we position our books,
a position local content. And then another, I don’t know if it’s a
statistic, but certainly, we’ve seen that there’s been a growth in independent
bookstores, both in the number and the sales that are coming out of that channel. We’ve seen stores open up in Montreal,
out east, out west, and in Toronto at a higher rate than in previous years. And so being able to capitalize on
that growth for our readers and for our authors, is an important
thing to be mindful of. – Thank you very much, everybody and thank
you all to all of our panellists and thank you very much to BookNet for organising
this because ultimately this is, as I say, why we’re here, to share best practices
and all of that sort of thing. So, thank you.


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