BookNet Canada, the organization that compiles sales and other data about Canadian publishing, surveyed independent bookstores around the country and found that 65% of booksellers reported revenue increases from new print books between 2017 and 2018. In addition, 28% said revenue from remaindered books had risen over the same period, while 20% saw increased sales of used books. The stores are, for the most part, still focused on selling books, with those surveyed saying that just 16% of revenue comes from non-book items.
The survey, entitled "What's in Store," is BookNet's first study of independent booksellers. It represents responses from 63 bookstore brands, which altogether operate a total of 80 store locations, and is available to download for free.
Independent bookselling is relatively anemic in Canada, compared with the United States. There is no national trade organization for booksellers and no regional trade shows. The country's dominant chain bookseller, Indigo, has more than 200 locations under various brands—approximately double the number of independent stores.
The booksellers surveyed are anonymous, but one bookseller quoted in the survey observed, "In recent years we’ve certainly felt that both Canadian and international publishers are tightening their belts, particularly in terms of events and other promotions, though they are working hard to maximize the effectiveness of co-op programs etc., which is good for all parties concerned. I do feel that all aspects of the industry are dealing with a challenging retail landscape—online, one dominant brick-and-mortar retailer, etc.”
Despite this comment, three-quarters of those surveyed saw their industry as "healthy," with nearly as many saying the same about the overall Canadian publishing industry. More than half of the stores said they increased their inventory of Canadian books in the past year, by a modest 1-10%.