The independent bookseller takes colors

Gravediggers from independent bookshops can go to work. Not only is the turnover of these knowledge-based institutions growing, but the number of separate titles sold each year has exceeded 214,500 in the last three years, split almost equally between Québec and foreign publishers.

“This is a pretty impressive figure that demonstrates the diversity that a bookseller can put forward in a year,” says the director general of the Association of Booksellers of Quebec (ALQ), Katherine Fafard, asked to comment Monday a study commissioned from the Société de gestion de la banque de titres de langue française.

Another encouraging sign for the local book market, while the number of innovations from elsewhere is six times more numerous on the shelves, Quebec publishers still achieve almost the same volume of annual sales as foreign publishers.

“You might think that foreign publishers, especially those in France, are going for the jackpot, but we can see that Quebec is coming close to them. It shows that booksellers promote and advise Quebec books, “enthuses the director general.

For the ALQ, it is not tomorrow the day before that the paper book will be relegated to oblivion in favor of reading. “It sells between 95% and 98% of paper books still today, while the share of the eBook market varies between 2% and 4%. The paper book is bought primarily in independent bookstores, not in superstores like Walmart, Costco and Jean Coutu. ”

In a “novelty market that accounts for only 29% of titles sold,” independent bookstores are succeeding at the cost of extra effort to sell low-turnover titles. Sixty-two percent of the titles are sold for five or fewer copies, and 73 percent for fewer than ten copies.

“Bookseller takes a risk in maintaining the fund book on its shelves, says M me Fafard. [Contrary to what’s new], he has to pay the delivery fees and sometimes does not have the right to return them. A bookseller must put a lot of effort into being able to show all of this diversity to his customers. ”

Sustained growth

On the other hand, another harbinger of better days, the number of independent bookstores is recovering after years of lean cows. Last year, 108 had a storefront, nine more than in 2016. The average growth rate posted during this period was 5.1%.

“Between 2007 and 2014, we lost between 30 and 40 independent bookstores, says Ms. Fafard. Almost every week, a closing was announced. It was hemorrhage. Since then, we have seen open libraries. The people who have taken over are enthusiastic and dynamic. They are not afraid of new technologies. They use social media and have transactional websites. “

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