Where to buy a copy of The Malahat? Galiano Island Books

Galiano Island Books Malahat advisory board member, Linda Rogers, asked Lee Trentadue of Galiano Island Books, a proud carrier of The Malahat Review, a few questions.


Galiano Island Books
76 Madrona Drive
Galiano Island, BC

I lived near Duncan in the 70's and 80's and Volume One Bookshop was not just a store. It was our community centre. I wonder if, living on an island, you have made your business into a place where people gather, talk and read and if you have become the island social directors as a result?

I believe that the bookstore has served this function on Galiano. It has been a place where many political discussions have occurred, often with people on opposing sides of questions related to local, national, and international issues of the day.

We have also been a place of solace during tragic events (on 9/11, we had many Americans come into the store dazed by what had happened and we made them coffee and tea and gave them comfort).

This has also happened when the tragedies were closer to home, as in the sinking of the Cap Rouge and the loss of the lives of family members here on Galiano. Five people, all from one family, lost their lives that day (in 2002). The children involved and their mother were regular customers at our store. Many islanders came in to the store that day just needing to be held.

We have been a big part of very special and happy events as well. We hosted an event when Jane Rule received the Order of BC from the Lieutenant Governor of B.C. (Garde Gardom) right in the store, with pipers, in total regalia and all ... that was a very special occasion for all of us. I remember Garde and Jane chatting about their two "Helens," their respective partners.  

I would not call us the island social directors  as there are many elders who would certainly be better named than Jim and I.

We are always open, so in that sense we did become a meeting place. We have also served as an informal after school care centre for a few kids who love to come to the store and hang out and read for hours. We  have had good long chats and served capuccinos to some very special customers, sometimes going through rough times, sometimes young couple on honeymoon who shyly told us they had just been married.

It has been a very rich 15 years--wow--just realized that today is our 15th anniversary! We opened the store on November 27th, 1997.

Many aspects of the literary business have suffered with the proliferation of social media, ebooks, and other forms of communication. Do you find that living in relative isolation helps or hinders the success of your shop?

I believe that having the shop where it is both helps and hinders us in our ability to deliver to our customers our best service in bringing them great books and book events. In my experience over the past 15 years, and increasingly so in the past few years, publishers have been focusing their attention on getting into the ebook market, setting up their own websites to deliver books directly to their customers and cutting back in their service to independent bookstores.

Being on an island (albeit one close to the mainland) this impacts us as well, as our books do not always get to us in a timely manner. We often are not considered for events on book tours, and in many instances it has been an uphill battle for publishers to take our store seriously, even though we are a full service store and if you set us down in any urban area we could compete very well.

Much of this has all just made us work that much harder to make sure that we have a wide range of book choices, have sought out authors and publishers who are supporters of independent bookstores, in many cases these have been independent publishers, but not always.

Authors who have visited our store or who have connections to the island have also assisted by agreeing to come to the island for book events. Our own local writer, Audrey Thomas, has been a keen supporter of the store and has always been happy to launch her books with us. Other  local writers come to mind as well: Jane Rule, Pam Frier, Bill Gaston (Victoria), Robert Wiersema, and many many more.

I believe that there is a romance to having a bookstore on an island which appeals to many as well. People also have the leisure time to browse and dream in our store and that is a valuable experience for many. We have a few customers who come from far away, just to spend some time in splendid islolation, and these readers arrange for us to have the books they want to read here when they arrive.

Because we are isolated somewhat, I have made a big effort not to isolate myself from the industry and have attended many bookfairs and publishing industry events off island, in Canada and the U.S.,so that I can be aware of what is happening in our industry. I love to bring these ideas back to our bookstore and our community. Living on an island also gives me the quiet time that allows me to be creative in the store as well.

When ordering books, do you have a sense that your are leading orfollowing the tastes of island readers? Do events in your shop determine what people might buy?

Quite often I have individual customers in mind when I order and we have an eclectic and sometimes eccentric group of readers on Galiano. In many cases though I order books that I think should be available, books that have the capacity to provide comfort (the cozy reads, mysteries), books that will provoke thought, books that will develop an interest in a passion or  a future profession, funny books, books that are puzzles to be read again, books that are beautifully illustrated.

I like to emphasize local authors, Canadian authors, and just damn good authors. Events do provide a "buzz"around a writer and often lead to a reader finding a new favourite author.

My staff also read widely in very different genres and their tastes influence our buying as well. All of us at the store comb the literary journals, book pages in newspapers, online, and the catalogues for great finds that we can pass on.

Are there book clubs on the island?

I know of at least three for sure and possibly as many as six. I am in one that has been going almost fifteen years. We just finished reading the Life of Pi for the second time.

Do you encourage your patrons to read Canadian?

Yes, I do. We have fabulous Canadian authors and people love reading stories that are reflective of their culture. Having Canadian journals in stock stimulates interest in our literature.We have just expanded our carrying of literary journals and art journals. I have no idea why I have not pursued this all along, busyness being my only excuse.

I have observed that festivals in small communities are always the most rewarding for readers and audience. It seems the whole community gets behind the festival, pitching in as volunteers, billeters, and general enthusiasts. Has this been your experience with the Galiano Literary Festival ?

Absolutely! We have more volunteers than we have things for them to do. Our island has provided a great deal of assistance with accommodation (often free) which is a huge support for us. Our local inn (The Galiano Inn and Spa) have provided us from the very beginning a beautiful place to hold the Galiano Literary Festival and help us in many other ways as well.

Our community has offered items for our author goodie bags, discounts at various venues around the island, and a big welcome to everyone attending. The volunteers at the library help with postering and billeting as well. Our writers that have attended have been amazing ambassadors for us, blogging and bragging and generally telling everyone they come in contact with what a great festival we put on.

Can you tell us about an outstanding festival moment, or perhaps the most hair-raising?

Well, probably the most hair-raising moment for us was when I announced to my staff just three months before our first festival that I was really serious, that we were going to have a festival that February. They thought I had really lost my marbles, but they came through and we did it, and it was terrific and they were hooked from then on.

One outstanding moment for all of us occurred at the festival this past February. The authors all got together and came up with enough money for one of my staff, a budding writer, Lindsay Williams Barrett, to sign up for a writing workshop. They announced this and gave this lovely and totally unexpected gift to her at our Saturday night dinner with the authors. There was not a dry eye in the house and certainly, Lindsay was at a loss for words. They did this because Lindsay had put in so much work in keeping us all organized and taking such good care of our authors and so many other details.

Each of my staff has contributed greatly to the success of the festival and they should all be mentioned by name: Seonaid Renwick, Peter Barrett, Nick Ferrar, and Jim Schmidt, my husband and partner in everything.

Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers

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