The Irish show the way to Canadiana

Fourteen years ago, Canadian authors were producing 27 per cent of English-language books sold in Canada. Today we account for 13 per cent. That is not a misprint: Canadians who write books in English produce only 13 per cent of all books purchased in Canada. Don’t take my word for it. Check out this story from the Globe and Mail, which compares extensive surveys from 2005 and 2018. Am I the only one who finds that drop alarming? More than 50 per cent! Globe writer Kate Taylor identifies causes and suggests that the federal government should get involved and I’m on board with that. But surely it’s time for individuals who care about what’s happening to get active. I’m thinking that writers, publishers, booksellers and serious readers should launch a campaign to follow the Irish model. OK, it’s not just Irish. The Scots and the Aussies are also out front on this. But above we see an image of an independent bookseller in Kilkenny, Ireland.

To the right, we discover a wall of books near the front of the shop. Note one thing: these are all Irish books: Irish interest, Irish history, Irish biography, Irish literature and poetry, Irish travel. Why, it’s whole separate section with a national focus. If in Canada our booksellers were encouraged to emulate that approach, we could support them in developing a section called, oh, I don’t know: Canadiana? Yup. It’s high time for us to go Back to the Future. 

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