"Another one bites the dust." For the last two years, I've watched Canadian independent bookstores fight to compete with the 'big boys'--major big-box outlets and Internet retailers, but it seems like a fight to the death. As a Canadian, I cheer them on, hoping they'll succeed. As an avid reader, I mourn their loss. As an author, I feel their disappearance is sadly inevitable. Business, after all, means survival of the biggest and most powerful. It's like watching a giant game of Pac-Man. Something is gobbling up our independent bookstores one at a time, and now we're about to lose "Canada's oldest bookstore"--The Book Room in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Book Room is expected to clear out inventory and close its doors for the final time at the end of March 2008, about eight weeks from now. Eight weeks...and then we'll have to say goodbye to a Nova Scotian icon. Founded in 1839, The Book Room has survived two World Wars, the Halifax Explosion and the Great Depression, and it will be a great loss to Canadian booklovers and to its local community. Charles Burchell, president of The Book Room, is justifiably disappointed. "The Book Room has been an institution in Nova Scotia."
The explanation given for its imminent closure? Increased competition, deep discounting from big-box and Internet retailers, as well as dual pricing issues. In Canada, books have traditionally been printed with two prices--Canadian and American. Canadian prices have always been quite a bit higher, but the recent strength of the Canadian dollar has put much pressure on the entire book industry. Canadian customers want US pricing, with that price on the back cover of books; publishers can't afford to discount their books to US pricing when they've based everything on a higher Canadian price, and booksellers are forced to either lower prices and take a loss or lose their customers and their business.
Farewell to The Book Room. Booklovers across Canada will miss you.
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song