Indigo Books Music &Cafe, the new Canadian bookstore chain that has taken on dominant book retailer Chapters in the bricks-and-mortar bookselling world, is now seeking to challenge it in cyberspace as well.
Indigo has bought a majority interest in bookshelf.ca (www.bookshelf. ca), an online bookseller developed by Sympatico.ca, a Canadian Internet service provider, and the Bookshelf, an independent bookstore in Guelph, Ontario. On November 27, Indigo renamed the site Indigo Online (www.indigo.ca); the company will invest in content and design to make it "the most exciting retail site on the Net for Canadians at home and abroad," the company reported. The site will offer access to every book in print, music, videotapes and CD-ROMs. It will also have a gift shop and registry. Indigo will be the exclusive English-language electronic bookseller on Sympatico.ca, which has 480,000 subscribers.
"These are very early days in online retailing, particularly in Canada, and we intend to play a major role in this arena," said Heather Reisman, president and CEO of Indigo.
For its part, this fall Chapters opened a Web site with Toronto's Globe and Mail, the leading Canadian newspaper, called ChaptersGlobe.com (www.chaptersglobe.com), offering more than two million books, book news, reviews and other information. Chapters has dedicated a 306,000-sq.-ft. warehouse to fulfilling online orders.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Booksellers Association announced that it is teaming with Canada.com to set up a site that will allow Canadian independents to sell online.Indigo Books Music &Cafe, which opened its first three stores late last year in Ontario, is opening four more stores this month and in December. The company's new 38,000-sq.-ft. Toronto store, which opened November 5, is Indigo's flagship and offers 150,000 titles, a music section and a cafe.Indigo intends to quadruple in size in the next several months, expanding to 17 stores by the end of 1999.
Founded by Reisman in 1996, Indigo bills itself as "the only 100% Canadian-owned large-format bookstore chain" -- in contrast to Chapters, which is 20% owned by Barnes &Noble.