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Indie Bookstores Shine: 100% of Award Nominees are Independent Shops

Updated: Jan 26

The short list is now available for the 2024 Faces of Ottawa Awards and voting will commence on Jan. 22nd, 2024,

But what is surprising, in the category of Shopping: Best Book Store, ALL of the finalists are independent bookstores!

This is the first time I have witnessed this phenomena. Not one big-box bookstore, not one Chapters, Indigo, or Coles location made the short list. A sign of the times? A shift away from the big-box bookstore and back to the smaller, more personal independent bookshops?

I think so.

Although, admittedly, the Faces of Ottawa Awards are simply a people choice award, could it be a gauge, a pulse of our society, and maybe even future economy?


Like it or leave it, it cannot be denied, the pandemic changed the world and continues to.

Although the government inflicted lockdowns from the Covid-19 pandemic brought enormous traffic and wealth to Amazon, now with the pandemic and its restrictions well past, people want to return to some semblance of a social environment and begin fleshing out what exactly it means to live in this new post-pandemic world.

As counterintuitive as it might seem, one of the byproducts of the Covid restrictions and lockdowns was that it forced people to read. And as a result, indie bookstores are making a comeback. New bookshops are opening, and of those who survived the lockdowns, are beginning to thrive.

Combine this with the identity crisis Indigo is suffering through (books now representing 57% of their business while 43% represents "lifestyle products," their stock value plummeting from $14/share in Sept. 2018 to $1.23/share in Sept 2023, the recent exodus of their CEO, Founder and 4 board members), it would appear the writing's on the wall.

Amazon has shifted as well, permanently closing its acquisition of the Book Depository in April of 2023. Although by no means is this a death blow for the online giant, it is a sign of a consumer shift in shopping habits.

Can't get over the convenience Amazon provides? Bear in mind the threat Amazon poses on consumer privacy with personal data. Don't kid yourselves, your data has a significant monetary value to Amazon. It's not just your books they're selling.

Horror vacui. Nature abhors a vacuum, and there is definitely a vacancy left open, and I believe the independent bookshop is filling the void.

If you are an Ottawa Region resident, there is most definitely an indie bookshop near you. It's time to stop using the #supportlocal and get into these shops in person. There is a wellspring of local literary talent rising with their books finding new homes.

Support your local bookstore. Lend your voice and vote in the Faces of Ottawa Awards. Drop by your local bookshop and pick up something new and local and exciting. You might just open a new world and surprise yourself!

Broken Keys Publishing & Press will be leading the way into Sustainable Publishing in March of 2024. We will be promoting this shift more and more into the near future, involving local bookstores. Join BKP's Editor-in-Chief on Daytime Ottawa TV, with host Derick Fage, on March 14th as he talks more about what this is and how it will change Ottawa's literary landscape and our environment.


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