My spring email notification from the 49thshelf.com arrived today and it got me thinking about what an amazing treasure of Canadian literature this website is—one that every Canadian writer (and reader) should know about.
49thshelf.com is the largest collection of Canadian books on the Internet. They are also likely the most fully realized collaborative website in the world celebrating one nation’s books and authors.
How did the 49th Shelf get started?
Rather than complain about Canadian books and authors often being overshadowed in the marketplace by the sheer volume of books from the US, a community of Canadian publishers of all sizes, across the country, got together and created this site.
Funding came from the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP), in partnership with the Canadian Publisher’s Council, and from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC). Amazon.ca is currently the lead sponsor for the project.
What’s on the 49th Shelf?
The 49th Shelf has one purpose: “to make it easier for readers to discover Canadian books. Canadian books in all genres, from bestselling authors to new talent, from publishers large and small, from all regions of the country.” Each week the homepage highlights new releases.
To date, they have assembled more than 100,000 Canadian titles from all types of authors, publishers, and genres including self-published authors. The search function allows you to search by those categories as well as by region with their Local Map function (which you can add to if you are a member).
My personal favourite feature on the site is the reading list feature. Everything from 2018 award lists like 2018 Finalists for BC Book Prize and the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize Finalists to perennial genre lists like Cozy Mysteries to lists linked to current happenings in the world like this one in response to #National Walkout Day last week:.
#NationalWalkoutDay, where school children and teachers across the US protested gun violence by walking out of their schools for 17 minutes this morning – part of a larger, powerful movement organized by kids – inspired us to share this list with you. The books are all about recognizing injustice, finding ways to fight it, being inspired by real-life heroes, and becoming powerful in important new ways.
And what I love is that I can create my own personalized reading list to bookmark new releases I’m interested in reading, as well as recommend books to others.
Off the Page Blog
They also have a great blog, “Off the Page” with insights into Canadian authors, books and publishing as well as cool stuff in and around Canadian books. For instance, these new releases included The Apocolypse of Morgan Turner by Edmonton author, Jennifer Quist. The book is set in Edmonton and Jennifer blogs on what other authors, books and literary institutions Edmonton has to offer.
Can I add my book to the site?
49thShelf.com imports publisher-supplied data from the national database: BNC BiblioShare: including eBooks, from all publishers, and self-published titles. There is no charge to have books listed on 49th Shelf.
If you don’t have an ONIX data file for your book, you can find out how to make that happen by going to BookNetCanada.ca. There you’ll find the necessary webform to fill out as well as tutorials and manuals to help you.
Any data that you add to the system via the webform will automatically be imported to 49th Shelf as long as you add the country code for Canada (“CA”) in the Contributor section.
Can I sell my book or buy books on 49thShelf.com?
49thshelf.com does not sell books. Instead it supports bookstores across the country, providing direct buy links to retailers’ sites and publishers’ websites on every book page.
Oh! And one more thing!
DID YOU KNOW
Gwynn recently interviewed Beth Bruder, Vice President at Dundurn Press and a founding member and chair of the ACP committee that launched The 49th Shelf. Listen to that interview on Word on the Hills radio program on Northumberland 89.7FM.