Inhabit launches online bookstore for Nunavut authors

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Made-in-Nunavut books, published by Inhabit Media and Inhabit Education, are now available straight from the source via a new on-line bookstore.

The Iqaluit-based publisher, known for its high-quality book in Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English and French, found its books were not easily accessible for Nunavummiut, said managing partner Neil Christopher.

photo courtesy Inhabit Media
Inhabit Media launched its own on-line bookstore on Nunavut Day to ensure families in the territory can easily access books in Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun. Books are also available for all ages, and in English and French.

“We had a lot of people commenting that they had a hard time getting the various language versions of our books and we had a hard time getting bookstores to stock Inuktitut books, or any Inuinnaqtun books,” said Christopher.

“There’s often a lot more Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun books than people know, and there’s going to be more and more coming up, especially Inuinnaqtun.”

Inhabit also found outlets like Amazon did not accurately represent the language versions.

“Finally we decided we have to make our own store, at least for Nunavummiut, to make sure that they could see the full catalogue for both companies,” said Christopher.

“We spend all this time making books, and we make them for our community, especially the Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun versions, as well as the education books. We wanted to make sure if someone wanted a book there’s nothing to prevent access.”

The company publishes books for all ages, and boasts more than 500 titles. Some favourites are out of print, and may be reprinted.

“So if people remember a book they don’t see on the list, please send us an email,” said Christopher.

Inhabit teamed up with its distributor, Fitzhenry and Whiteside in Ontario, who will fill the website orders.

“It’s a bit of an experiment for us because it takes someone staff time to maintain this, so we’ll see if this is helpful for people wanting to support Inuktut literacy at home. We want to make sure we can be as supportive as possible,” he said.

inhabitbooks.com launched at 10 a.m. on Nunavut Day, and will continue to have a 20 per cent site-wide sale throughout the summer. The site also offers free shipping for purchases of more than $50.

“We’re trying to make it as competitive, or more competitive, than Amazon or Indigo, or any of the large book chains. We’re trying to make it as accessible as possible,” said Christopher.

He also notes Inhabit is branching out to supply school book fairs, which generally feature the longstanding Scholastic product, which has been in schools across Canada for more than three decades.

“Schools are starting to contact us for book fairs at their school. A couple of schools used it as a fundraiser and made money. That’s another great way … If we can do anything to encourage Inuktitut books into homes. I think the schools were surprised at the success,” said Christopher.

The company is stretching in another way – it will be selling foreign rights.

“To try and bring more revenue to the authors. We want authors to be successful so they continue to write and hone their craft. With their support and consent, we’re representing their books,” said Christopher.

“We sold the first Spanish right to one of our books. It’s kind of an interesting milestone.”

He also notes authors deserve the global recognition, as the subject matter of contemporary stories is often universal to children all over the world.