No doubt about it – selling print books is getting harder and harder. E books are great for portability and quick access to exciting new reads. But print books have several advantages: FANG can’t track your reading progress and you never have to recharge a book!
Mme Lisa de Nikolits was extremely fortunate and excited to not only have her book participate in a novel book selling venture: selling your book in a vending machine. If you’re travelling through Billy Bishop airport, be sure to try out the book vending machine!
Lisa also enjoyed a shoutout in the Toronto Star by Books Editor Deborah Dundas. Here is the article:
No Fury Like That, by Toronto’s Lisa de Nikolits, is a novel partly set in an airport lounge that’s actually purgatory. Could there be a more apt read to pass the time while waiting for your plane to board?
The 2017 literary thriller is one of 20 independent titles available from a new vending machine at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Carry On Books — it’s on the departures level, before security — was put in place by the Literary Press Group, a collective of about 60 independent Canadian publishers.
“We wanted to experiment with a new way to reach readers,” said Christen Thomas, the organization’s executive director. “In this case we think we’ll be bringing books in front of people travelling to different cities in Canada and the States in an environment that’s great for reading.”
Inspiration for the machine came in part from the Biblio-Mat at The Monkey’s Paw bookshop on Bloor St. W., which provides used books, as well as short story machines in Edmonton and Paris airports that dispense a story for those in need of a quick read.
“We thought Billy Bishop was the best place to launch a book vending machine because there’s no real entertainment options on the flight,” noted Thomas. “We often see passengers reading the literature on the plane.” It’s also a way of trying to expand an audience that is becoming ever more difficult to reach.
Print book sales in Canada declined in 2017 by about 4 per cent in units sold and 3 per cent in value sold compared to 2016, according to numbers released in January by BookNet Canada, which tracks sales.
“We do have limited review space (in newspapers and magazines), some closure of independent and chain stores, as well as a decline of shelf and online space for independent Canadian literature,” Thomas said. “So we aim to help our members find audiences and help readers discover really innovative and diverse and emerging authors from across Canada.”
Carry On Books is a summer-long experiment running from June 1 to Aug. 31. The project was funded by the Canada Book Fund, which is part of the federal Department of Heritage.
The machine itself was modified from one that was used in condos to deliver groceries, including eggs, “so we know it’ll treat the books well,” laughed Thomas.
The books will be initially stocked in a rotation of 30 titles from six independent publishers. They are Book*hug, Brindle & Glass, Inanna Publications, Nightwood Editions, Playwrights Canada Press and Stonehouse Publishing.
“It can be very difficult to get independent books into hands of readers,” said Hazel Millar, managing editor of Book*hug. Her titles include work by Oisin Curran and Erin Wunker. “As independent publishers, we have limited financial resources and we have to be very creative with our marketing budgets.”
For this initiative, Millar notes they “consciously selected titles that have received critical acclaim, and in some cases have won, or been shortlisted for, awards.”
Books will cost between $16 to $20 with the machine set up to accept either debit or credit, but not cash. Other authors include award-winning Indigenous writers Gregory Scofield and Lee Maracle. A description of each book is provided on the side of the machine to make choosing easy.
“Some of my fave upmarket cosmetics are in vending machines in airports, so why not books?” quipped de Nikolits. “It’s a great way to showcase books that readers might have missed.”