How a Canadian Chain Is Reinventing Book Selling (Published 2019) (2023)

How a Canadian Chain Is Reinventing Book Selling (Published 2019) (1)

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Indigo is expanding to the United States with its new model for how a big bookstore chain can thrive in the era of online retail.

Handbags, stationery and books at Indigo Books in the Mall at Short Hills in Millburn, N.J.Credit...Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

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By Alexandra Alter

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About a decade ago, Heather Reisman, the chief executive of Canada’s largest bookstore chain, was having tea with the novelist Margaret Atwood when Ms. Atwood inadvertently gave her an idea for a new product.

Ms. Atwood announced that she planned to go home, put on a pair of cozy socks and curl up with a book. Ms. Reisman thought about how appealing that sounded. Not long after, her company, Indigo, developed its own brand of plush “reading socks.” They quickly became one of Indigo’s signature gift items.

“Last year, all my friends got reading socks,” said Arianna Huffington, the HuffPost co-founder and a friend of Ms. Reisman’s, who also gave the socks as gifts to employees at her organization Thrive. “Most people don’t have reading socks — not like Heather’s reading socks.”

Over the last few years, Indigo has designed dozens of other products, including beach mats, scented candles, inspirational wall art, Mason jars, crystal pillars, bento lunchboxes, herb growing kits, copper cheese knife sets, stemless champagne flutes, throw pillows and scarves.

ImageHow a Canadian Chain Is Reinventing Book Selling (Published 2019) (2)

It may seem strange for a bookstore chain to be developing and selling artisanal soup bowls and organic cotton baby onesies. But Indigo’s approach seems not only novel but crucial to its success and longevity. The superstore concept, with hulking retail spaces stocking 100,000 titles, has become increasingly hard to sustain in the era of online retail, when it’s impossible to match Amazon’s vast selection.

Indigo is experimenting with a new model, positioning itself as a “cultural department store” where customers who wander in to browse through books often end up lingering as they impulsively shop for cashmere slippers and crystal facial rollers, or a knife set to go with a new Paleo cookbook.

Over the past few years, Ms. Reisman has reinvented Indigo as a Goop-like, curated lifestyle brand, with sections devoted to food, health and wellness, and home décor.



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Ms. Reisman is now importing Indigo’s approach to the United States. Last year, Indigo opened its first American outpost, at a luxury mall in Millburn, N.J., and she eventually plans to open a cluster of Indigos in the Northeast.

Indigo’s ascendance is all the more notable given the challenges that big bookstore chains have faced in the United States. Borders, which once had more than 650 locations, filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Barnes & Noble now operates 627 stores, down from 720 in 2010, and the company put itself up for sale last year. Lately, it has been opening smaller stores, including an 8,300-square-foot outlet in Fairfax County, Va.

“Cross-merchandising is Retail 101, and it’s hard to do in a typical bookstore,” said Peter Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex Group, which analyzes the book industry. “Indigo found a way to create an extra aura around the book-buying experience, by creating a physical extension of what you’re reading about.”

During a tour of the New Jersey store, Ms. Reisman sounded less like a bookseller and more like a self-care guru or a wellness evangelist, touting the importance of adequate sleep and hydration, unprocessed foods, and time away from your phone.

“We curate ideas — big ideas — that we think are going to work across the board,” she said.




The atmosphere is unabashedly intimate, cozy and feminine — an aesthetic choice that also makes commercial sense, given that women account for some 60 percent of book buyers. A section called “The Joy of the Table” stocks Indigo-brand ceramics, glassware and acacia wood serving platters with the cookbooks. The home décor section has pillows and throws, woven baskets, vases and scented candles. There’s a subsection called “In Her Words,” which features idea-driven books and memoirs by women. An area labeled “A Room of Her Own” looks like a lush dressing room, with vegan leather purses, soft gray shawls, a velvet chair, scarves and journals alongside art, design and fashion books.

Books still account for just over 50 percent of Indigo’s sales and remain the central draw; the New Jersey store stocks around 55,000 titles. But they also serve another purpose: providing a window into consumers’ interests, hobbies, desires and anxieties, which makes it easier to develop and sell related products.

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The concept is one that Amazon pioneered decades ago, and has exploited ever since in its quest to be “the everything store.” Indigo isn’t aiming for that, Ms. Reisman said.

“In those categories where we play, it’s a curated assortment,” she said. “We are not looking to be the everything store. Someone’s already doing that.”


Publishing executives, who have watched with growing alarm as Barnes & Noble has struggled, have responded enthusiastically to Ms. Reisman’s strategy.

“Heather pioneered and perfected the art of integrating books and nonbook products,” Markus Dohle, the chief executive of Penguin Random House, said in an email.



Ms. Reisman has made herself and her own tastes and interests central to the brand. The front of the New Jersey store features a section labeled “Heather’s Picks,” with a display table covered with dozens of titles. A sign identifies her as the chain’s “founder, C.E.O., Chief Booklover and the Heather in Heather’s Picks.”

She appears regularly at author signings and store events, and has interviewed prominent authors like Malcolm Gladwell, James Comey, Sally Field, Bill Clinton and Nora Ephron.


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When Ms. Reisman opened the first Indigo store in Burlington, Ontario, in 1997, she had already run her own consulting firm and later served as president of a soft drink and beverage company, Cott.

Still, bookselling is an idiosyncratic industry, and many questioned whether Indigo could compete with Canada’s biggest bookseller, Chapters.

Skepticism dissolved a few years later when Indigo merged with Chapters, inheriting its fleet of national stores. The company now has more than 200 outlets across Canada, including 89 “superstores.” Indigo opened its first revamped concept store in 2016.

The new approach has proved lucrative: In its 2017 fiscal year, the company’s revenue exceeded $1 billion Canadian for the first time. In its 2018 fiscal year, Indigo reported a revenue increase of nearly $60 million Canadian over the previous year, making it the most profitable year in the chain’s history.

The company hasn’t been immune to the challenges that other big physical retailers are facing. In its most recent earnings report, for the third fiscal quarter of 2019, Indigo posted a revenue drop of more than $7 million and a gross profit decrease of nearly $16 million from a year earlier. Reasons included a Canadian postal strike, minimum wage increases and store renovations.


The company’s dominance in Canada doesn’t guarantee it will thrive in the United States, where it has to compete not only with Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but with a resurgent wave of independent booksellers. After years of decline, independent stores have rebounded, with some 2,470 locations, up from 1,651 a decade ago, according to the American Booksellers Association. And Amazon has expanded into the physical retail market, with around 20 bookstores across the United States.

Ms. Reisman acknowledges that the company faces challenges as it expands southward. Still, she’s optimistic, and is already scouting locations for a second store near New York.

“We’ve been carving out our own approach to attracting readers,” she said.

“We are the new guy,” she said, then added, “Or new woman.”



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What is the biggest bookstore chain in Canada? ›

The World's Biggest Bookstore was a bookstore in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at 20 Edward St, just north of the Toronto Eaton Centre and the Atrium on Bay.
World's Biggest Bookstore.
FounderCarl and Jack Cole
DefunctMarch 30, 2014
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada
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Is Indigo American or Canadian? ›

Indigo is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario and employed more than 7,000 people throughout Canada. After a series of mergers and acquisitions in the Canadian bookstore industry, Indigo stands as Canada's last remaining national bookstore chain.

Why did chapters change to Indigo? ›

In the autumn of 2000 Indigo launched a hostile takeover. Indigo was able to convince the Competition Bureau that Indigo was not a viable standalone business given the enormous losses that it was sustaining and thus had to be able to merge with the profitable Chapters retail chain.

Does Indigo sell to usa? ›

We ship to all of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, but excluding: U.S. protectorates and APO/FPO addresses if not in the Continental United States.

What is the most sold book in Canada? ›

Top 10 bestselling Canadian Fiction books of 2022
  • A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny 🍁 (9781250145291)
  • State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny 🍁 (9781982187590)
  • Watch Out for Her by Samantha M. ...
  • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. ...
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 🍁 (9780771008795)
Dec 22, 2022

What is a best seller book in Canada? ›

Best Sellers in Canadian Literature
  • #1. ...
  • True Reconciliation: How to Be a Force for Change. ...
  • The Sleeping Car Porter. ...
  • 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality. ...
  • Five Little Indians: A Novel. ...
  • The Sleeping Car Porter.

Is indigo still grown in the US? ›

Indigo seeds have continued to be quietly planted, however, on small farms, cultivated for artisanal purposes. Now, however, there is a movement to revitalize indigo farming and production in South Carolina and turn it into the vital commodity it once was.

Why is indigo so popular? ›

The colour indigo is used in various textile applications. Popular applications include the dyeing of denim fabrics, navy blue wool and yarns for various purposes. Indigo has many unique properties. The deep blue colour does not attach itself very strongly to textile fibres.

Does indigo still exist? ›

The Anbhazhagan family perfected the patient craft of extracting natural indigo dye from Indigofera plants, using the same century-old, colonial-era cement tanks their relatives used before them. All these years later, the company is now the largest producer of natural indigo dye in India.

Can you refund Indigo books? ›

Items purchased in one of our stores can be returned to any location. Refunds or exchanges can be made within 30 days from the date of purchase, if the item is returned in store-bought condition with a receipt.

Is Indigo books a good company? ›

Indigo Books & Music has an overall rating of 3.8 out of 5, based on over 1,521 reviews left anonymously by employees. 74% of employees would recommend working at Indigo Books & Music to a friend and 55% have a positive outlook for the business. This rating has decreased by -3% over the last 12 months.

Which country owns IndiGo? ›

IndiGo is headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana, India.

Who is IndiGo's target market? ›

Indigo Airlines targets middle-class people. The Lower middle-class people have a preconceived notion that air travel is expensive than trains and they were not happy with the price and service of the existing airlines.

Which airline does IndiGo use? ›

IndiGo operates the Airbus A320 CEO & NEO, the A321 NEO and the ATR 72-600 aircraft. The seating capacity on the A320 CEO fleet is 180 , A-320 NEO fle... Read More... IndiGo operates the Airbus A320 CEO & NEO, the A321 NEO and the ATR 72-600 aircraft.

What is the #1 book ever sold? ›

According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

Who is the most famous Canadian author? ›

1. Margaret Atwood. Any list of the top Canadian writers of all time has to start with Margaret Atwood. Atwood is frequently listed as the most popular Canadian writer, but she is also listed among the most significant writers globally.

What is the number one most sold book in the world? ›

Top 100 best selling books of all time
1Da Vinci Code,TheBrown, Dan
2Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsRowling, J.K.
3Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneRowling, J.K.
4Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixRowling, J.K.
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How many copies is considered a bestseller? ›

The category and window of your release all significantly impact the number of copies required to hit the NYT bestseller list, but 5,000 copies during any one-week period is the minimum.

How many copies should be sold to be a bestseller? ›

To achieve bestseller status on the Times not only do you have to sell at least 5,000 – 10,000 copies in one week, but these sales have to be diverse sales. That is, you cannot sell 10,000 books to a pre-existing list of followers through a personal website or thousands from only one marketplace like Barnes and Noble.

What kind of books are sold the most? ›

Most Popular Fiction Genres
  • Romance.
  • Detective & Mystery.
  • Horror.
  • Thriller.
  • LGBTQ+.
  • Historical Fiction.
  • Young Adult (YA).
  • Children's Fiction.
Feb 10, 2023

How long will indigo last? ›

How long does indigo hair dye last on your hair? A. It depends on each individual. Usually, the dye lasts for 8-12 weeks depending on the porosity of the hair, frequency of hair washing, hair care and styling routines.

What is indigo used for today? ›

The primary use for indigo is as a dye for cotton yarn, mainly used in the production of denim cloth suitable for blue jeans; on average, a pair of blue jeans requires just 3 grams (0.11 oz) to 12 grams (0.42 oz) of dye. Smaller quantities are used in the dyeing of wool and silk.

Which country is the biggest supplier of indigo in the world? ›

India exports most of it's Indigo dye to United States, South Korea and Bangladesh and is the largest exporter of Indigo dye in the World.

How is indigo so successful? ›

IndiGo focuses on three pillars of success: affordable fares, on-time arrivals, and a hassle-free experience. Unlike other airlines, it does not have a business class; yet, many business travellers prefer IndiGo because of its outstanding on-time record.

Why is indigo ignored? ›

Indigo is omitted because few people can differentiate the wavelengths well enough to see it as a separate color. The six-color spectrum also fits the model of the color wheel, with red, yellow, and blue being primary colors. Orange, green, and violet are secondary colors and are spaced between the primary colors.

What made indigo successful? ›

IndiGo's success began when it became one of the first airlines to introduce the low-cost model in India. For IndiGo, this meant only operating one type of aircraft (A320s in this case), employing fewer staff, and cutting out any extras.

Why was indigo Cancelled? ›

Assam: IndiGo flight cancelled; passenger says plane's wheels stuck in outfield. The AAI official said there was some technical issue with the aircraft and the flight was cancelled at around 8:15 pm.

What color was removed from the rainbow? ›

Today, many color specialists advocate for removing indigo from the colors of the rainbow. They want to define it as: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Today, the color “indigo” refers to a blue-purple color that many people can't actually distinguish from blue or purple.

Why was indigo so valuable? ›

Indigo was used primarily for dyeing textiles, but also was useful as paint, cosmetics and for cleaning wounds. Indigo processing was a noxious process which many now believe was toxic to indigo workers. Indigo production began in East Florida during the British period and it was the colonies most important crop.

Can you return used books to Barnes and Noble? ›

Items That Cannot Be Returned

Magazines, newspapers, used books and shipping fees are not returnable or exchangeable. Digital content, including eBooks, audiobooks, digital magazines and newspapers, Access Codes, gift cards, and shrink-wrapped items that have been opened, are not returnable.

What is Indigos return policy? ›


We only offer refunds for damaged or faulty items with factory defect or production faults.

Are Indigo returns free? ›

Our return policy lasts 14 days after the order has been delivered. We offer free returns for a full refund within 7 days after the delivery date and free/ exchanges and/or store credit within 14 days of delivery date. To be eligible for a return, your item must be: Unworn.

What is the best book publishing company? ›

1Penguin Random House
3Simon & Schuster
4Hachette Book Group
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Feb 24, 2017

Which is the best book company in the world? ›

Who Are The Big 5 In Publishing?
  • The big five publishers in the world are:
  • Harper Collins.
  • Simon & Schuster.
  • Macmillan.
  • Hachette.
  • Penguin Random House.

How is Indigo books doing? ›

In its report for the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which ended July 2, Indigo Books & Music reported an 18.9% rise in revenue to C$204.6 million ($160 million), compared to C$172 from the same period in 2021.

Where is IndiGo headquarters? ›

Corporate Office

Level 1, Tower C, Global Business Park, Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, Gurgaon – 122 002, Haryana, India.

Does IndiGo make money? ›

Latest Updates. IndiGo parent Interglobe Aviation (INGL. NS), which operates IndiGo, reported a net profit of 1.28 billion rupees ($17 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, compared with a loss of 6.27 billion rupees a year earlier.

Is IndiGo book same as Blue Book? ›

The Indigo Book was compiled by a team of students at the New York University School of Law, working under the direction of Professor Christopher Jon Sprigman. The Indigo Book isn't the same as The Bluebook, but it does implement the same Uniform System of Citation that The Bluebook does.

Why is IndiGo called 6E? ›

The 6E in an IndiGo flight number, other than just being an International Air Transport Association allotted airline code, is a cheeky prefix. If you don't have a clue what it stands for, simply say it twice and fast enough.

What is the salary of IndiGo staff? ›

Average annual salary in IndiGo is INR 7.5 lakhs .

How much money do you need to start an airline company in India? ›

So, if you plan to have operations across 20 airports, please be ready to shell out deposits of Rs 10 crore. Besides, you need to pay a deposit of Rs 1 lakh per airport for check-in counters, Rs 2-3 lakh per aircraft as parking fees.

Who is Tiffany's target market? ›

The target audience of Tiffany and Co. is mainly women, in their pre-teen to middle-age years. This is the group that cares most about lifestyle and status symbols, they care about themselves a lot.

Who is Victoria's Secret target market? ›

Victoria's Secret targets those populations who are at the early stage of their career and desire to wear fashionable wear and those who attend events and purchase new & expensive clothes for every occasion. Normally, the age group ranges from 17-26 years old and 20-40 years old.

What type of business level strategy Indigo has used? ›

Key strategies that make Indigo a lower cost and on-time airline company. Short-haul & point to point route structure, a common fleet with single class seat configuration, and high employee productivity. Lower aircraft acquisition costs achieved through bulk purchase strategy.

Does IndiGo have first class? ›

Being an exclusive low-fare air carrier, IndiGo Airlines doesn't offer Business class or First class air travel, however, with for some additional fare in-flight complimentary meal is offered to passengers.

Is water free in IndiGo flight? ›

Can I carry water and food on-board? IndiGo provides water cups free of charge on all its flights. Water bottles will be available in flight on sale.

What does PNR stand for? ›

PNR is the abbreviation of Passenger Name Record and it is a digital certificate allowing passengers to do online check-in or manage their bookings in a short time. Also used as booking number, Passenger Name Record is a code with 6 alphanumeric characters (letters and numbers are used together).

What is the largest bookstore chain? ›

Amazon Books

Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world with a catalog that includes more than 33 million titles, and they will ship them just about anywhere.

Where do Canadians buy books? ›

  • eBay.
  • Walmart.
  • Kobo.
  • Indigo.
  • BAM.
  • Wish.
Jun 9, 2022

What is the largest bookstore chain in the world? ›

World's Top Bookstores 2015
#BookstoreHQ Country
3Barnes & NobleUS
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Jun 25, 2015

What is the largest bookstore in Toronto? ›

World's Biggest Bookstore
  • Page · Bookstore.
  • 20 Edward Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, Ontario.
  • +1 416-977-7009.
  • Closed now.
  • Rating · 4.5 (206 Reviews)
  • See More About World's Biggest Bookstore.

What US city has the most bookstores? ›

Top 50 cities for booklovers
RankCityBook Dealers
4Ann Arbor22
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Jan 24, 2020

What is the biggest book shop in the US? ›

Barnes Noble is the biggest bookstore in the United States. It has 627 locations across the country. Barnes Noble also has an online store that sells magazines, books, video games, and music. The online store has a variety of products, including new releases and back stock.

Who is Barnes and Noble's biggest competitor? ›

Barnes & Noble competitors include Chegg, Amazon, McGraw Hill and Mazedon. Barnes & Noble ranks 2nd in Product Quality Score on Comparably vs its competitors.

Can I buy from Barnes and Noble from Canada? ›

Barnes & Noble does not operate any stores outside of the United States, but we welcome international customers to shop with us online at

Do authors get paid for library books Canada? ›

Over 18,000 Canadian authors are compensated annually from the Public Lending Right through direct payments ranging from $50 to $4,500 a year. Eligible work includes original writing, translation, illustration, narration and photography contained in library books across a range of literary and scholarly genres.

Does Amazon ship books to Canada? ›

The simple answer is yes; Amazon can ship to a PO box in Canada. Amazon US offers international shipping services through Amazon Global.

What is the most sold book in the world called? ›

Tolkien, that lack comprehensive sales figures. According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

Where is the most beautiful bookstore in the world? ›

Inside 'The World's Most Beautiful Bookstore' In Argentina : NPR. Inside 'The World's Most Beautiful Bookstore' In Argentina National Geographic has named El Ateneo Grand Splendid the top shop in the world. But that's only where the history of the 100-year-old Buenos Aires building, once a palatial theater, begins.

Which country buys the most books? ›

India – Ranking at number one, India spends approximately 10 hours and 42 minutes reading per week. This equals 556.4 per year.


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