Back in 2015, Canada’s local independent bookstores were struggling and nobody was doing anything to give them more visibility.
Authors for Indies kicked off in 2015 and it’s run for three years.
I’ve always thought of AFI as a band aid until a better-equipped organization came along. It needs institutional-level support to succeed. It needs staff to run the event and advocate for indie bookstores all year. It needs engagement from booksellers beyond hosting authors for an annual event.
It needs way more than what our volunteer setup can provide.
In March 2017, Kate Hilton and I came to a decision. We had been discussing AFI’s future, including non-profit status, grants, and joining another organization. But the critical issue was this: AFI sucks up a lot of time. Much as we want to help Canada’s indie bookstores, we can’t do what’s needed to grow AFI. Also (and believe me this is secondary), I’ve been funding AFI personally and I can’t do it anymore. We decided 2017 would be our last AFI. Regardless of whether anyone else picked up the torch.
Happily, a new organization is picking up the torch to run the 2018 event.
Sorry I can’t say more right now, but the new organization has asked me to hold off announcing who they are until they have a budget and team in place. At that time, they will make the appropriate announcements.
It’s very likely that AFI will be rebranded since it won’t be an author-led initiative anymore. Shelley Macbeth (Blue Heron Books, ON) and Mary-Ann Yazedjian (Book Warehouse Main Street, BC) are staying on board to work with the new organization on behalf of bookstores. They have some great ideas for author-bookseller engagement that offer more options than bookstores hosting authors.
- The AFI website goes offline at the end of October – the main reason I’m making this announcement even though the new organization is not yet officially ready to roll.
- The AFI Facebook and Twitter social media accounts stay up until there are new Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Authors for Indies has been an unbelievable experience. I’ve met so many great people and learned so much. Thank you everyone for your support over the past three years.
Farewell and good luck as a new chapter begins!