University Press Week 2022: NextUP

Guest post by Elisia Snyder

University presses rely on strong independent booksellers, and Edmonton is fortunate to have two hugely supportive and collegial bookstores: Audreys Books, the staunch matriarch, and Glass Bookshop, a relative newcomer. The strong book culture in our city is fostered by a remarkable writing community, locally-based publishers, excellent bookstores, and book enthusiasts.

With this year’s University Press Week theme of NextUP, we are focussing on Glass Bookshop, since they are one of our newest indies.

Pulling their inventory from Canadian independent presses like Drawn and Quarterly, Arsenal Pulp Press, NeWest Press, Athabasca University Press, Stonehouse Publishing, Freehand Books, Hingston & Olsen, and (of course) University of Alberta Press has been just one of the many ingredients to Glass’s success. Often the books sold by Glass Bookshop are—by nature of the presses they choose to acquire from—on the cutting edge in theory, format, and fashion. Glass curates an inventory that celebrates the voice of the marginalized at every level of publishing: author, press, and artists.

Glass always has something new on the go. They run a podcast. They have really cool, unique merch. They run amazing events, of course. They are a living wage employer. And everyone should sign up for their newsletter. They always have innovative ideas about books, artwork, branding, and social media presence.

What’s next up for the bookstore? Another move!

Their first home in 2018 was a pop-up in City Centre Mall. When COVID-19 shutdowns drove them out, they moved their pop-up to the Mercer Marketplace setting up shop in a marketplace stall. After that, another pop-up home at Latitude 53, a downtown art gallery whose mission is to “[support] artists, writers and curators who question, inform, and inspire.” This was a natural fit for the shop whose own mandate is “to support queer and racialized authors and independent presses.” As of November 25, however, they will be settled in their permanent home in the Ritchie neighbourhood, right next to the Kind gourmet ice-cream shop. Their storefront sign, using their signature squiggly font, was designed by Edmonton artist Vikki Wiercinski at Mezzaluna Studio.

Someone who didn’t know better might think that the constant change of scenery was a sign of struggle, but nothing could be further from the truth. The founders of the shop, Jason Purcell and Matthew Stepanic, opened their doors just as the world closed its doors due to the pandemic. Glass was an early adopter of what became the ubiquitous curbside-delivery method. Today, you can find in their shop enamel pins of a corgi—their unofficial mascot—driving a delivery truck! Their willingness to adapt to change and to do so with flair has long been their strong suit, and serves as an apt metaphor for how the shop approaches the books they sell and the way they run their business.

We can hardly wait to see what is next up for our friends at Glass Bookshop.