Giller titles in short supply in independent bookstores
When the indie-dominated shortlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced on Oct. 5, a number of booksellers expressed concern that the smaller publishing houses might have trouble meeting demand. As it turns out, the concerns were justified. Two weeks after the announcement, stores such as Edmonton’s Audreys Books, Halifax’s Bookmark, and Ottawa’s Collected Works are still without copies of several shortlisted titles.
“Supply is a little tight [on] the smaller press titles,” says Christopher Smith, co-owner of Collected Works. According to Smith, the store’s copies of Sarah Selecky’s This Cake Is for the Party (Thomas Allen Publishers) and Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists (Gaspereau Press) were sold last week, and re-orders have not arrived. However, Smith isn’t particularly worried about the delay. “As far as I know, we haven’t lost any sales at this point in time,” he says, adding that customers haven’t been asking for this year’s Giller nominees the way they have in previous years.
It’s an entirely different matter at Halifax’s Bookmark. According to staffer Fiona Elgar, there have been frequent requests for Skibsrud’s book and for Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting (Biblioasis), both of the authors being locals. (MacLeod lives in Dartmouth, while Skibsrud, a Montreal-based author, grew up in Scotsburn, Nova Scotia.) Bookmark has been waiting for more copies of The Sentimentalists for several weeks, having sold out even before the book made the shortlist. And though the store had nearly 200 copies of Light Lifting in stock, almost all of them have sold. According to Biblioasis publisher Dan Wells, a new printing of 4,000 copies will be shipped out
next this week to fill 2,000 Indigo orders and several hundred independent orders.
Like Bookmark, Audreys currently has a waiting list for Skibsrud’s book. “Gaspereau does those beautiful, hand-printed books, [so] you can’t expect them to appear overnight,” says store co-owner Steve Budnarchuk, adding that he has ordered two dozen copies and will order more as required. Gaspereau publisher Gary Dunfield says reprints of the book will ship early next week. He declined to say how many copies are being printed.
Similarly, Thomas Allen is finding that it underestimated demand for Selecky’s short story collection. After the shortlist announcement, the plan was to stick to the 2,500 copies currently in circulation, but after orders came pouring in the print run was upped to 6,000.
According to Budnarchuk, This Cake Is for the Party sold slowly at Audreys, then took off after the shortlist announcement. The store has only a few copies left, and a new shipment has yet to arrive.