The number of bookstores participating in this year's Authors for Indies Day, taking place on Saturday, April 30, has dropped to 87, from 100 last year. In 2015, when the event launched, 120 stores participated.
Authors for Indies Day (AFI), founded in Vancouver by writer Janie Chang, puts authors to work, for a day, as booksellers. The event is similar to Independent Bookstore Day in the U.S. (which is also taking place on Saturday), in so far as it is intended to promote the role of independent bookstores in the community.
Chang, who continues to administer AFI, attributes stores dropping out of the event to closings. "I know of at least three stores that have closed this year," she told PW. She also said there are challenges getting authors to bookstores in more rural ares.
"What we have seen is that people try it and see if it works for them," Chang continued. "The stores that are repeat participants are on the ball, recruit their authors early and get their marketing plans out there."
This year AFI recruited Jennifer Robson as the event's ambassador. Robson, whose novel Goodnight From London (HarperCollins) is currently the number one Canadian fiction title on the Globe and Mail bestseller list, will be one of more than a dozen authors participating in the AFI Road Show, a publisher-sponsored program that will provide rides to "work" for authors stationed at bookstores in small towns outside of Toronto.
Penguin Random House Canada is also sponsoring the AFI Bingo Game, which allows readers to enter a drawing for $1,000 worth of books. Simon & Schuster is running a contest for for 20 limited-edition AFI prints by children's book illustrator Kevin Sylvester.
While numerous publishers and media companies are supporting AFI through sponsorships—including ECW Press, BookNet Canada, the British Columbia Booksellers Association, and, unexpectedly, Cactus Rain Publishing (which is based in Arizona)—it remains "a struggle to run each year," according to Chang.
One of the main hurdles, Chang said, is the fact that "Canada has no single association or organization responsible for bookselling across the country."
Still, she added, "it's gratifying when I hear about new stores joining in." Chang pointed to Queen Books in Toronto and the Gold Rush Bookstore in Rossland, British Colombia, as two recently-opened stores that are taking part.