Chapters Inc. was created when Coles and SmithBooks, Canada's two largest book chains at the time, merged in 1994. SmithBooks was acquired from Federal Industries and Coles was acquired from Southam Inc. Canadian General Capital and Pathfinder Capital bought these two chains with the intention of building large-format book superstores.
The new company was officially created in April 1995 and the first two book superstores were opened in November 1995. The original superstores were located in Burlington, Ontario and Burnaby, British Columbia.
Chapters quickly changed the face of the book selling industry in Canada. Previously, companies like Coles and Smithbooks had many small stores. Chapters built large box stores with a much larger product selection. Chapters provided chairs and couches for their customers, as well as Starbucks coffee shops, and did not discourage the reading of books inside the store. The company became the largest book retailer in Canada, with 77 superstores branded as Chapters and more than 280 mall-based stores under the names Coles, SmithBooks (formerly the Canadian branch of W H Smith), Classic Bookshops, the Book Company, and Active Minds. However, the SmithBooks, the Book Company, and Classic Bookshops names have been gradually phased and locations have been rebranded as Coles stores in recent years. Canada's first book superstore, Toronto's World's Biggest Bookstore, once part of the Coles chain, was also owned of Chapters.
Chapters grew very quickly. It was criticized, however, for several reasons. It was blamed for the demise of several independent bookstores across Canada, especially alternative stores carrying obscure or controversial titles. Although it was said that Chapters also built its business around moving massive numbers of a few bestsellers, the majority of its sales came from backlist titles. As the company's market share grew it began to assert pressure on publishers and distributors to lower prices.
Chapters did not keep the box book store market to itself, however, with the opening of Indigo. Headed by Heather Reisman, Indigo began to compete with Chapters in select markets. Chapters further lowered prices, but began to have trouble covering its debt when its new distribution centre, Pegasus, proved ineffective. In the autumn of 2000 Indigo launched a hostile takeover. By early 2001, it had been successful in purchasing Chapters, but kept both the Chapters and Indigo brands; subsequently a number of Chapters stores near Indigo locations were closed. (Many Coles and SmithBooks stores were shut down if they were too close to a Chapters site).
After the Indigo takeover, Chapters has on several occasions refused to stock certain books and magazines for their controversial content. These include Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf , several titles by David Icke, as well as Firearm magazines and an issue of Harper's Magazine
Boycott Chapters/Indigo.(Cross-Canada Action for Progressive Social Change)(Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid's picket)(Brief article)
Nov 01, 2007; The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) is organizing a rotating, monthly picket of Chapters and Indigo stores in the...