Seen your favourite magazine at Canada’s chain of super-size bookstores? The answer is probably not. Chapters, obviously enjoying their monopoly over the book buying public (at least in the suburbs), has awarded an exclusive magazine distribution contract to the Toronto based, very mainstream, US oriented Gordon & Gotch. This effectively shuts out or dramatically slows down the distribution of independent magazines in the chain of super stores. Those most likely to suffer are the hundreds of small Canadian magazines who rely on thè Canadian Magazine Publishing Association (CMPA) for their distro. CM PA distribution head Ron Sellwood says diplomatically that the CMPA is “working with Gordon & Gotch to ensure that our publishers get their magazines into Chapters. However, we don’t see this in the long term as effective/’ So, if you are looking for independent magazines, take your business elsewhere. This, by the way, is quite unlike part- Chapters owners US chain Barnes & Noble who work with many different distributors and generally have a pretty open policy towards carrying new and independent publications.
One more thing about Chapters: Downtown Toronto bookstores have so far not reported any drop in sales as a result of a super store in their midst The indie mag and book friendly stores in the downtown core claim to be holding steady. Uncorroborated reports say that a Chapters employee unable to find a book for a customer became angry and told that customer that she must be wrong about the author of the book. However, the fellow found the book the next day at another much smaller store, Frans Donker, owner of the small Toronto chain Book City told BP that: “Book City is being its usual neighborhood self. We haven’t lost the customers. We are driven by the titles our buyers and our staff like. We stand by small publishers who don’t have five thousand dollars to buy display space in Chapters…Each Book City has a separate book buyer. Chapters has a single buyer for all of Canada.” Another Toronto book seller was heard proudly telling a customer while ringing up her purchase: “Yes, that new superstore, isn’t it awful?…and the staff are so useless/’ Here’s the question we at BP want answered: If bookstores aren’t losing customers to the mega-chain, then who the hell is shopping at Chapters?