All dolled up

First it was candles and wrapping paper, then coffee and crumpets, now it’s to be dolls and accessories at Indigo. As a grandfather, I welcome the arrival of American Girl in Canada. My shopping will be handier. But as an author, I shudder at the thought of more floor space being stolen from books and given over to toys. Bad enough that Indigo has two-thirds of the book market in Canada, putting many independents out of business, now they’re getting out of the book business themselves, a few square feet at a time.

Initially, American Girl will be in two Indigo stores but that could grow to fifteen locations within two years, Octagon Capital analyst Robert Gibson told The Globe and Mail. “We have a big ambition for it,” said Indigo CEO Heather Reisman. If Reisman can keep prices the same as the U.S., as she claims will be the case, more power to her. Few other retailers have made the same commitment.

I’ve been in American Girl outlets in both New York and Chicago and I’m trying to imagine how this will all work with “boutiques” created inside current Indigo locations. The noise and excitement is at a high pitch. The flurry of mothers and daughters who fill American Girl stores will certainly change the ambiance of the bookstore surroundings. You’ll be standing there, browsing in the literary travel section, when suddenly a birthday party parade of ten-year-olds will pass by – with their dresses and matching doll outfits – laughing and chattering on their way to a celebratory in-store event.

Before Reisman launched Indigo she looked at bringing in Borders, the U.S. book chain that went bankrupt in 2011. I understand that book retailing is a tough business these days. But if American Girl is coming here, why not open standalone outlets? Please leave us readers and authors with some decent-sized sales area for silent contemplation and sale of our beloved books.

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