It’s a hot topic on Vancouver Island, with the city’s book and music industries struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for goods and services on the internet.
So, too, is the demand for book and movie rentals.
The province is considering allowing online retailers to apply to rent books or DVDs for a set fee that is paid in advance, according to the Vancouver Observer.
The province has a $30,000 program to help book and film rental stores survive, but it has yet to open it to the public.
“We are open to looking at things, we just haven’t heard anything from the B.C. government yet,” said Steve McQueen, CEO of book rental company The Booklord.
“If it was opened up, we would certainly be interested in looking at it.”
A couple of book-rental outlets in downtown Vancouver, like the Bookstore Bookstore, and in the Downtown Eastside, also operate under a different model, but they have been able to survive for years thanks to the city and the province’s support.
“The downtown bookstores have really been the ones that have really seen the benefit of the [B.C.] government being on board, because they’ve had the resources to make sure that we’re able to keep going, so we’ve been able keep doing what we do,” said David McLean, owner of the downtown bookstore Booklords Bookstore.
He said the city provided $25,000 in grants to help support the businesses and that the government also has provided some funding to the Booksellers.
But it’s still unclear how far the province will go with the new program.
The Booklords has said it’s working with the BCTS and the BCA on the details, and is looking at how to offer its services to the online retailers.
“I think we’re really excited about it,” said McLean.
“We’re not sure if the province is going to be able to fund it or not, but I think it’s exciting for us and for the booksellers.”
He added that he hopes the government will open up the program to other bookstores.
“There are a lot of bookstores in Vancouver, and we hope to expand it in the future,” said the Booklords.
“This could be really exciting for people who live in Vancouver.”
But the BCR says the new policy will put pressure on book-sellers who are trying to survive.
“This is not going to make it easier for bookseller to operate, because there’s going to have to be additional funding, and they’re going to need to be willing to work with the government to ensure that they’re able and willing to operate,” said Chris Knepper, senior director of strategic development and economic development with the BC Bookseller Association.
The association says the BCDSA has already provided the province with $100,000 to support the new rental program.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but there are still a lot more steps to be taken,” said Kneppers.
Kneppers says the association is hopeful the province can offer more support for book-and-film rentals.
“If we were able to provide additional funding to book- and film rentals, that would certainly go a long way in helping to support our businesses,” he said.
“I hope that the provincial government would be open to further investment in these areas.”
McLean says the book-to-movie rental model is a viable one.
“A lot of our books come from other countries, but the quality is pretty high,” he says.
“The quality of our product is very high.”