Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Indigo good at Monopoly

When you buy a book in Canada, whether it is at a physical store or online, you are more than likely going to be enriching one company, Indigo. Indigo currently accounts for nearly 67% (44% excluding online and mail-order) of all national sales. The largest book seller in the United States is B&N with a 15% market share.

I have nothing against Indigo, obviously they must be doing a lot of good things to have such a large market share but if you are an author trying to sell your book in Canada you better hope an Indigo buyer likes your product. If Indigo declines you just lost half the market to sell your book.

Via Globeandmail

Ned Litte

is Jane's long suffering husband who enjoys high fantasy novels and the occasional romance that Jane disguises as a fantasy book. He is also the photographer and artist of the multimedia reviews here at Dear Author.


  1. Melanie L.
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 16:48:50

    Hi Ned,

    Just FYI, that’s Indigo, not Indiglo. And yes, fellow Canadians, please try to encourage you local independant book sellers…

  2. Melanie L.
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 16:56:45

    Hi Ned,

    Just FYI, that’s Indigo, not Indiglo. Indigo Books & Music Inc. own Chapters, Coles Books, SmithBooks (aka W.H.Smith) – their biggest competitors in English-speaking Canada back in the mid-nineties. So no wonder their market share is so high.

    And if I may, fellow Canadians, please try to encourage your local independent book sellers… They’ll love you for it!

  3. Ned
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 17:21:27

    Melanie, thank you for the correction! It is now corrected.

  4. tricia
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 17:27:12

    They aren’t really doing good things, either, to get that market share. Going into one of their stores is an appalling experience. They fill a lot of their space with toys, chocolate, candles, and other garbage that doesn’t belong in a bookstore. Nine times out of ten, the music is blasting–and at the location closest to my house, you can’t browse without being accosted by employees.

    I don’t have a problem with a lot of the non-book stuff in most bookstores. Stationery and journals fit with a bookstore for me. But seriously, the last time I was in a Chapters, they had nail-polish kits for little girls. That stuff, combined with the large video and music section, takes up a lot of space that would be better devoted to books. As for the employees–well, I know they’re just doing their job by “making sure” I’m finding everything I want. But I can be in an Indigo store and be accosted six times in ten minutes. That irritates me. Sometimes when they want to “make sure” I’m okay, I ask them to lower the stereo. Most times these teenagers making lousy money will claim that they can’t do that, which gives lie to the times that people happily turn it down.

    I haven’t been to one of their stores in more than a year, except for a signing simply to support an RWA chapter member. I give up. Canadians do well to search out their local independent booksellers and to keep money out of Indigo’s hands. Unless, of course, you need a nail-polish kit.

  5. Ned
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 17:35:14

    From tricia, Indigo sounds a lot like our local cable company Mediacom. They are good at being a monopoly but their product and service is horrible.

  6. asrai
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 18:46:43

    The reason that indigo has 67% of the market is they own the three major bookstores in Canada- Chapters, Indigo and Coles and in some places it’s pretty much the only option.

    In Red Deer, AB population 80,000 there is one chapters, one coles, two used book stores, the college bookshop and one place downtown which sells only non-fiction-mainly environmental and cookbooks. The closest independent bookstore is over an hour away and when I need to buy a book, my choices are pretty limited.

  7. Ann Bruce
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 22:21:40

    I stopped buying at Chapters/Indigo years ago.

    Personally, I’m a fan of McNally Robinson. I lost an MR gift card on the weekend and after I explained what happened and showed them my last receipt, they gave me a new card. That’s service.

  8. Sherry Thomas
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:35:52

    Be still my heart! It’s Ned in person. Seriously, has a Lego knight ever looked hotter?

  9. Teresa
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 13:54:48

    I LOATHE Indigo/Chapters. Rarely set foot in the place unless I have to. They don’t even carry Romantic Times anymore!!!

    Like Ann, I’m a McNally Robinson fan, but mostly I patronize the two indie bookstores near me, using their Special Order service to get the books they don’t have in store.

    Indie stores are the way to go if you want REAL service!

  10. Carol Stacy
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 10:58:41

    I find this topic interesting because as Teresa stated they have been cutting our draw for Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine in their stores steadily for the last year despite the hundreds of letters we receive from outraged Canadian readers asking why we are so hard to find in the Indigo/Chapters stores.

    It doesn’t affect us too much because it encourages Canadian readers to subscribe, however, it is a disservice to their customers who find it convenient to purchase their magazine in the book store.

    When the U.S. dollar dropped in value and we were on par with Canadian prices, we changed our UPC code and price on the magazine to reflect that, a measure not many U.S. publishers were willing to take. In fact I believe Canadians are still paying higher prices for books and magazines when in fact they should not be. Currently you will see one price on RT BOOKreviews magazine instead of one for U.S. and a higher price for Canada.

    I hope Canadian readers know that we are not the ones responsible for the magazine coming out of Indigo/Chapters stores and I would hope that if you want to see it there you will complain to the manager. As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel get the attention. In fact, I am going to call Indigo top brass to discuss some of what’s been said here. I am sure nothing will change but at least I can raise awareness.

    Carol Stacy
    Publisher of RT BOOKreviews

  11. Elizabeth
    May 12, 2008 @ 22:24:55

    Hi there, I would just like to say that some people should really try to do their economic research before making any claims….

    Firstly, as a person who has worked in the customer service sector for many many years in my student days and also for corporate businesses like Indigo, McDonald’s, Canadian Tire, Old Navy, that there is little the lowly customer service representative can do in regards in honoring the customer’s complaints. There is a strict set of codes to follow from the head office, with the managers simply being the messengers, and even to change the temperature in the store, an email and an inquiry has to be sent out (since it costs money to raise temperatures/turn on AC).

    Secondly… people in our society are completely lazy and selfish. When I asked anyone if they needed help (because I WAS REQUIRED TOO, since i would fail any mystery shopping tests carried out if I did not approach a customer in my section within 2 minutes) then I would be considered pushy…..if there were days when I didn’t approach anyone because I wanted to allow people to browse (meanwhile making myself visible in case they had any questions) then I was considered a bad customer service Rep because according to the customers “I didn’t care if they needed help”…..Extremely frustrating I must say – society is absolutely ridiculous

    And in regards to the US/ Canadian prices…here are the rules of economics, for those of you who are ignorant in financial matters…

    1) EVERYTHING IS CHEAPER IN THE UNITED STATES!!!! ALL of their products are considerable cheaper, their minimum wage is lower, etc….Canada is run much more socially than the United States, therefore we have higher bills and therefore higher wages than the Americans…

    This is why prices are different in each country…the cost of manufacturing product in a different place is always going to be varied….and if product is to be imported from Canada, you have to remember that NO ONE WORKS FOR FREE!! The Truck drivers and gas costs need to be paid for any product shipped here from the States…And if a product is manufactured in Canada, people are paid more here you must remember, therefore, costs in Canada will be higher….

    which leads me to #2

    2) THE PRICE DIFFERENCE ON CARDS, BOOKS, MAGAZINES, FEMALE ACCESSORIES DO NOT….I REPEAT DO NOT…necessarily always reflect the exchange rate….what they do reflect is how much the product costs in America (since it is usually about 95% of the time manufactured in the states) and how much it costs in Canada (which will usually be higher, since it is either imported, OR because labour costs in Canada are higher)

    3) As an educated economics professional…. since the dollar is at par, what you will see, is Canadian prices slowly come down, as the American prices slowly go up. See, for years, the Canadian dollar has always been the inferior currency, which has resulted in Canada’s higher prices…..NOW….since the American dollar is loosing its superiority to the Canadian dollar, it is now its turn to cause the US’s prices to come up higher, while Canada’s prices will lower since our dollar value is coming up. However, it is not practical for a publisher to lower prices, since six months – year ago, they paid out a certain amount to have the product manufactured while the respective countries economies were of a certain value….no one is profiting off of the dollar fluctuating. If a publisher put out 20 dollars to have a book published, it needs to get those 20 dollars back from the sales in order to keep in business.

    The reason that companies like Walmart may lower their prices is because they cut their own profits from the sale of books and cards. They do this because they sell other things, like CDS, electronics, appliances, furniture, and all those other necessities that you can get there (at the higher Canadian price – which of course, the ignorant customer does not know because it is not printed on the exterior as it is on books) Walmart therefore sacrifices its profit on things like books and cards which have the prices printed on the outside.


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