The Canadian Government has launched a new funding initiative, Support for Booksellers (SFB), to help Canadian booksellers expand their digital presence.

Launched by Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, SFB is a component of the Canada Book Fund (CBF).

The programme is designed to strengthen the sustainability of booksellers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative will invest C$32.1m ($25.10m) in bookstores to provide support for two years in 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.

Bookstores can apply for the fiscal year 2022-23 funding until 25 April 2022 and selection will be based on past sales of Canadian-authored books.

The funding will help Canadian booksellers increase their online sales for Canadian-authored books and support their transition to the digital channel.

In addition, the funding will support collective projects that are designed to increase capacity for online Canadian book sales.

Funding for these projects will be made through the existing Support for Organisations component.

Minister Pablo Rodriguez said: “During the pandemic, Canadians bought more Canadian books, proving that our authors and publishers are more important than ever in sharing our stories.

“Our government is proud to provide this important funding for Canadian booksellers to support the growth of their online sales channels, so they can remain competitive in the digital marketplace.”

Online booksellers are faced with various challenges including logistical, labour, technology and shipping following the growing demand for online book sales boosted by the pandemic.

The investment will help Canadian sellers enhance their online business models and make them competitive in the digital marketplace.

The Canada Book Fund employs nearly 2,500 people and helps publishers produce around 6,500 new Canadian-authored books annually.