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Toronto Chapters at John and Richmond to close

Another downtown Toronto bookstore owned by Indigo Books & Music is shutting its doors. According to, the Chapters location at John and Richmond will close on May 30.

The news comes one day after the closure of the World’s Biggest Bookstore, which is also owned by Indigo. In February, the company closed the Chapters Runnymede store in Toronto’s Bloor West Village. At a neighbourhood town hall, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman blamed rising rental costs and online shopping for the store’s demise. “In all of the high-demand areas, rents are going up hugely,” she said. “At the same time that rents are going up, customers – maybe not you, but maybe a few of you – are very happy to come into stores, browse all the products, and then shop online at the cheapest place they can find. That is happening. You all know it.”

In the past month, two other Toronto bookstores have closed: the flagship location of the Book City mini-chain and specialty retailer The Cookbook Store.

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World’s Biggest Bookstore to close in February

Two weeks after its 33rd birthday comes word that the World’s Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto will close in February.

According to the Toronto Star, the development company that is in the process of buying the property has no immediate plans for the space.

In June 2012, Q&Q reported that the lease on the 64,000-square-foot iconic bookstore, currently held by Indigo Books and Music, would not be renewed.

Earlier this month, Indigo announced it was closing its flagship Chapters store at Bloor Street West and Runnymede Road. The building, which previously housed a historic movie theatre, is slated to become a Shoppers Drug Mart.

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Indigo quarterly report reveals decreased in-store sales, flat online sales

Indigo Books and Music, Inc. has released its fiscal report for the first quarter of 2013, and the picture it paints does not bode well for the Canadian bookselling sector.

Total revenues for the company declined by $15.1 million, or 8.1 per cent over the same period in 2012. Individual store sales were down 7.3 per cent in the superstores and 13.1 per cent in smaller format locations. Although the report credits the Fifty Shades of Grey and Hunger Games trilogies with boosting sales in 2012, the lack of a similar blockbuster in the first part of 2013 has apparently resulted in shortfalls.

Interestingly, the report states that sales are down for both physical books and e-readers. “Online sales remained flat at $17.8 million,” the report states. Also interestingly, when sales of the Fifty Shades and Hunger Games trilogy are removed, there is a 5.3 per cent increase in online sales over the first quarter of 2012. “Although in-store physical book sales have declined,” the report says, “online book sales have seen less erosion as more customers move to purchase books online instead of in-store. Additionally, online sales of lifestyle, paper, and toy products continue to grow.” The report credits the growth in part to Indigo’s redesigned website.

During the first quarter of 2013, which runs through June 29, Indigo “did not open any stores and closed one small format store.” Overall, the company is operating eight fewer stores than it did in 2012.

Costs of sales and operations both decreased year-over-year, the former “due to lower sales volumes and efficiencies gained from the Galileo productivity initiative,” and the latter due in part to running eight fewer stores. The report states that the decreased cost of operations was partially offset by higher costs devoted to online marketing.

The company’s total liabilities decreased to $213.1 million (from $215.3 million), although the quarterly report stipulates an increased liability of $3.7 million in unredeemed gift cards, something publishers that have previously been stuck with extraordinarily high volumes of returns must view with a certain schadenfreude.

In all, the report does not seem like a bellwether of a healthy sector for in-store sales, at the very least. Notwithstanding the difficulties the company is facing, the cover page of the report features a sunny quote from Maya Angelou: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” The quote comes from the 1989 volume Conversations with Maya Angelou. A quick check of Indigo’s website indicates that the book is out of stock in all 10 of its downtown Toronto locations.

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Nova Scotia vanity press Bryler Publications faces possible legal battles

Cynthia McMurray, owner of the Nova Scotia vanity press Bryler Publications and the recently founded Three Dogs Press, is embroiled in several legal disputes – one of which could involve Indigo Books & Music.

In an article published in Halifax’s Chronicle Herald this morning, several of Bryler’s authors claim not to have been paid royalties, while McMurray says Indigo’s returns and payment policies have left her bankrupt.

McMurray says she is considering taking legal action against Indigo on the grounds of “unjust enrichment.” McMurray also complained that books often came back too damaged to re-sell, and in some cases were reordered by the same bookstores just days after return.

“We are extremely empathetic to the financial difficult this publisher is experiencing,” Indigo public relations vice-president Janet Eger wrote in an email to the Herald. “[H]owever … their account to you of our business relationship is factually incorrect and potentially defamatory.”

Meanwhile, authors published by Bryler are banding together to discuss their options. On her blog, Diane Tibert has chronicled numerous offences.

According to the Herald, Cape Breton fisherman Leif Morrison has received no royalties for his book about his seven-week abduction in Nigeria and has no idea how many copies have been sold. “It’s not the monetary value,” he says. “I feel she stole my story.”

Harold Meuse has filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and, more recently, the Yarmouth RCMP over $34,000 he alleges he is owed for a book by his late wife, Simone, whose dying wish was to publish a book about angels.

In both cases, McMurray denies that Bryler owes any money to the authors and says she “has the paperwork to prove it.”

UPDATE: Aug. 26, 2013:

Diane Tibert has issued a public apology to Cynthia McMurray and retracted many of her statements:

I recognize that there is no foundation to these allegations and I regret that they were ever made. Ms. McMurray has not been charged or convicted of any criminal activity, and I and my fellow internet posters should have undertaken diligent inquiries before making such accusatory and damaging statements about Ms. McMurray. I should have contacted Ms. McMurray and undertaken responsible investigative journalism before publishing this false and damaging material… Finally, I have been informed that Ms. McMurray continues to undertake efforts to work with her authors to bring Bryler’s outstanding obligations to a satisfactory close. She is undertaking serious efforts to fix things, and not run away, as I previously – and inaccurately – reported.

The full note can be viewed on her blog.

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Toronto Public Library adds Kobo to retail partners

The Toronto Public Library has expanded its retail affiliate program to include digital titles from Kobo.

Patrons can now purchase ebooks directly from Kobo through linked pages on For each ebook purchased, TPL receives a portion of sales, which goes toward funding special collections and services.

In March, TPL launched an affiliate program for print books with Indigo Books & Music. According to TPL communications spokesperson Ana-Maria Critchley, 509 items have been purchased to date. Although the idea of libraries selling books is controversial, Critchley says social-media response has been “largely positive” and no formal complaints have been filed.

TPL is the only library in Canada that currently supports bookselling. Future plans for the program, which will be evaluated in a year, include a partnership with Victoria’s AbeBooks.

In the June issue of Q&Q, Vancouver librarians Shirley Lew and Baharak Yousef argue that libraries should get directly into the business of selling books. Read the guest opinion piece here.


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This weekend in Canadian literary events: July 27-29

The season of literary festivals and readings in the park is well underway, and it’s not slowing down this weekend. Here are just a few of the events featured on Q&Q‘s calendar.

This is the last weekend to check out the Leacock Summer Festival in Orillia, Ontario. The festival runs until July 29 and features appearances by Matthew Forsythe, Andrew Westoll, Rebecca Rosenblum, Mark Kingwell, Ken Babstock, and Cordelia Strube. This year’s festival also hosts the world premiere of Sketching Sunshine: An Evening and A Morning with Stephen Leacock, a one-man play starring Joe Matheson.

Jeff Lemire launches his new graphic novel, The Underwater Welder, on July 28 at 7 p.m. at Innis Town Hall in Toronto. Admission is $5 or free with purchase of the book.

Vancouverites who want to eat healthier should check out the Vancouver Public Library on July 27 when Sharon Hanna discusses her bestseller, The Book of Kale: The Easy-to-Grow Superfood, 80+ Recipes. The free event starts at 3 p.m. at VPL’s Kitsilano Branch.

Sue Goyette, Warren Heiti, and Anne Simpson read from their 2012 Atlantic Poetry Prize–nominated books on July 28. The night kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Acadia University Art Gallery in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

You can catch the first photography exhibit by author Kenneth J. Harvey at Gerald Squires Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland, until Aug. 31.

Keith G. Powell will sign copies of Raising Kain at Indigo stores across Calgary this weekend. He will be at Indigo Signal Hill and Indigo Cross Iron Mills on July 27, and Chapters Chinook Centre on the 28th.

Want to add an event to Q&Q‘s calendar? Send your literary event listings to Quill & Quire. Please include the event name, date, time, location, cost, and a brief description.

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Book links roundup: Indigo CEO says physical books are surviving digital age, classic books get bold makeovers, and more

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Canadian literary event roundup: June 8-14

  • Patrick deWitt signing for Ablutions, Indigo Eaton Centre, Toronto (June 8, 12 p.m., free)
  • “The Adventure of the Process”: The Writer’s Guild of Alberta Conference and Alberta Book Awards Gala, Hotel Arts, Calgary (June 8–10, 5 p.m., from $80)
  • Insomniac Press Night featuring Liz Bugg, Jamie Popowich, and Natalie Zina Walschots, 7750 Mullhern St., Niagara Falls (June 8, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Readings by Betty Jane Hegerat, Suzette Mayr, and Cathy Ostlere, Pages on Kensington, Calgary (June 8, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • “An Editor and an Agent Tell All” workshop, Four Corners Library, Brampton, ON (June 9, 10:30 a.m., $48, $44 advance)
  • “Stream of Conciousness” writing workshop with Bruce Kauffman, The Artel, Kingston (June 9, 7 p.m., $10)
  • Reading and discussion of Cathy Ostlere’s Lost: A Memoir, Shelf Life Books, Calgary (June 10, 2 p.m., free)
  • Niagara Literary Arts Festival presents a YA reading featuring Hermine Steinberg and Allison Bryson, Fine Grind Café, St. Catharines, ON (June 10, 2 p.m., free)
  • “Storytelling for Social Change” panel discussion as part of the Vancouver International Storytelling Festival, Vancouver Public Library Central Branch (June 10, 2:30 p.m., free)
  • Gloria Vanderbilt reads from The Things We Fear Most, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto (June 10, 7:30 p.m., $10, free for students)
  • Carol MacDougall and Shanda LaRamee-Jones launch Play Book, Keshen Goodman Library, Halifax (June 11, 10:30 a.m., free)
  • Jaime Forsythe reads from Sympathy Loophole, Alice Burdick launches Holler, and John Wall Barger launches Hummingbird, Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, Halifax (June 11, 7 p.m., free)
  • Vertigo Reading Series featuring Shelley Leedahl, Winter Fedyk, Adam Pottle, and Murray Arthur Logan, Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar, Regina (June 11, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Reading and signing by Brian Henderson for Sharawadji, McNally Robinson, Winnipeg (June 12, 7 p.m., free)
  • Irvine Welsh discusses his new novel, Skagboys, with Eleanor Wachtel, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto (June 12, 9 p.m. $20)
  • An evening with poet Don Kerr, Regina Public Library (June 13, 7 p.m., free)
  • Reading and signing by Leslie Vryenhoek, McNally Robinson, Winnipeg (June 13, 8 p.m., free)
  • In celebration of Bloomsday Montreal, Dr. Dana Hearne discusses the importance of Nora Barnacle in James Joyce’s life and writing, and Dr. Gus O’Gorman reads from Ulysses, Atwater Library, Westmount, QC (June 14, 12:30 p.m., free)
  • Nicole Markotić launches her poetry collection Bent at the Spine, Pages on Kensington, Calgary (June 14, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Atlantic Author Day, featuring signings by 48 authors at 34 locations across the East Coast (June 16, 10 a.m.)

Quillblog is looking for photos from literary events across Canada. Send your photos to


Canadian literary event roundup: June 1-7

  • Deux Voiliers Publishing open house featuring Brendan Ray, Stephen Lorne Bennett, Chris Turner, and Con Cu, Collected Works Bookstore, Ottawa (June 1, 7 p.m., free)
  • Niagara Literary Arts Festival kicks off with readings by Erno Rossi and Marsha Barber, Patrick Sheehan’s Irish Pub, St. Catharines, Ont. (June 1, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Ridgeway Reads all-day book fair, Legion Branch 230, Ridgeway ON (June 2, 9 a.m., $20 per table)
  • Writing for Children and Young Adults workshop with Brian Henrey and Kelley Armstrong, Oakville Central Library, Oakville Ont. (June 2, 10 a.m., $48; $44 in advance)
  • Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Annual General Meeting, Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, Halifax (June 2, 12 p.m., free)
  • Kathryn Ellis launches her new YA book, Home in Time for Dinner, Chapters Richmond Hill, Ont. (June 2, 1 p.m., free).
  • “Out of the Shadows,” a panel on the art of translation featuring Hugh Hazelton, Susan Ouriou, and Gisèle Villeneuve, Shelf Life Books, Calgary (June 2, 3 p.m, free.)
  • Authors and Angels at the Astor, a tribute to Joyce Barkhouse featuring Alex Hickey, Vernon Oickle, Marcia Pierce Harding, E. Alex Pierce, and Janet Barkhouse, Astor Theatre, Liverpool, N.S. (June 2, 7 p.m., $10, $10 for reception)
  • Jay Ingram reads from Fatal Flaws, Plaza Theatre, Calgary (June 3, 11 a.m., $10; $20 includes lunch)
  • Esther Paul launches Mending Fences, McNally Robinson, Winnipeg (June 3, 2 p.m., free)
  • Battle of the Sexes Poetry with Dwayne Morgan, Elle Seon, Ritallin, Tammy Soulful, Dahveed Delisca, Dianne Robinson, Denyce, and Tomy Buick, Lamabadina Lounge, Toronto (June 3, 6 p.m., $20 $15 in advance)
  • Toronto Jewish Book Festival kicks off with Michael Wex interviewing Auslander, Toronto Reference Library (June 4, 8 p.m., $25)
  • 8th House Publishing launches The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover by Charles Talkoff, Jump the Devil by Richard Rathwell, and The Midas Touch by James Cummins and Cameron W. Reed, Paragraphe Bookstore, Montreal (June 6, 6 p.m., free)
  • Readings with Angie Abdou, Mark Lavorato and Teri Vlassopoulos, Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal (June 6, 7 p.m., free)
  • Book signing with Treena Wynes, McNally Robinson, Saskatoon (June 7, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist readings featuring Ken Babstock, Phil Hall, David Harsent, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sean O’Brien, Joanna Trzeciak/Tadeusz Różewicz and Jan Zwicky, Koerner Hall, Toronto (June 6, 7:30, from $12.50)
  • Shree Gatage launches her novel Thirst, Pages on Kensington, Calgary (June 7, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • The Heroines of The Sexual Gothic fundraiser, featuring Susan Swan, the Billie Hollies and Martha Chaves, Toronto Women’s Bookstore (June 7, 6:30 p.m., $30 $25 in advance)
  • Dan Rather discusses his memoir Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, Indigo Manulife, Toronto (June 7, 7 p.m., free)

Quillblog is looking for photos from literary events across Canada. Send your photos to

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Toronto’s Silver Snail Comics offers sneak peek of Yonge Street store and cafe

Silver Snail Comics Queen Street West storefront (Photo:

Silver Snail Comics co-owner George Zotti is offering the public a video tour of the store’s new home just steps away from Toronto’s Yonge and Dundas Square.

In addition to the standard comic book fare, the 3,300 square-foot store at 329 Yonge Street will house a large kids’ section, gallery space, and lounge area complete with iPads for in-store reading of digital comics. They’re also working on making the second-storey space wheelchair accessible.

Arguably the biggest change from the Queen Street site will be the addition of a cafe, where Zotti plans on getting creative with the menu, with specials like the “Flashiccino.” “You get three [espresso] shots for the price of one shot,” Zotti explains with a laugh. The cafe is a bid to keep the shop competitive in a neighbourhood that’s also home to Indigo, The World’s Biggest Bookstore, BMV, 401 Games, and One Million Comix.

Zotti and partner Mark Gingras revealed the new location last month, a year after announcing the iconic comic book shop would be leaving its historic Queen Street West location this summer. (Check out what’s being proposed for the site.)

According to Torontoist, the Yonge Street location should open by July 1 — just in time to host Dave McKean, the award-winning graphic novelist and illustrator who has collaborated with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Richard Dawkins, and chef Heston Blumenthal.

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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