The Canadian Government has announced C$12m ($8.8m) in funding to help the country’s booksellers scale their online sales.

The announcement was made by Canadian Heritage Minister and Quebec Lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez, along with Outremont Member of Parliament Rachel Bendayan.

The funding will be distributed to 180 booksellers, including 177 small chains and independent booksellers and three large chain booksellers that operate a combined 467 bookstores in the country.

According to Canadian Heritage, recipients include bookstores owned by or serving members of equity-deserving communities across the country and those in rural and remote communities.

Booksellers receive funding based on past sales of Canadian-authored books.

Rodriguez said: “Local bookstores are an important link connecting Canadians to our stories. Supporting our booksellers in expanding their online sales is an investment in our cultural outreach, but also in the future of our authors and publishers. They will be able to reach more readers across Canada, wherever they are located, so they have access to a wide range of Canadian books.”

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This funding marks the first time financial support is being given through the new Support for Booksellers component of the Government of Canada’s Canada Book Fund.

The component will enable Canadian booksellers to optimise their online business models and expand their online sales of printed Canadian books in 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.

Bendayan said: “Bookstores play a fundamental role in our communities. This additional federal funding will help ensure our local bookstores continue to thrive and reach even more Canadian readers… what could be better than that?”

In March, the Canadian Government launched Support for Booksellers, a new funding initiative to help Canadian booksellers expand their digital presence.