Indigo Books and Music

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Indigo Books & Music Inc.
Type Public:
Traded as TSXIDG
Industry Books
Founded 1996
Founders Heather Reisman
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Key people Heather Reisman (CEO)
Joel Silver (President)
Jim McGill (COO & CFO)
Revenue Increase $1.017 billion CDN (2011)
Operating income Decrease $(4) million CDN (2011)
Net income Decrease $11 million CDN (2011)
Total assets Decrease $516.180 million CDN (2011)
Employees 6,500 (2010),[1]
Indigo Kids.
Indigo Books, Music at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre
An Indigospirit store

Indigo Books & Music Inc. (stylised as !ndigo) is a Canadian retail bookstore chain. The company was founded in 1996 by CEO Heather Reisman, wife of Gerry Schwartz, majority owner and CEO of Onex Corporation.

The company's first big box bookstore, initially called "Indigo Books, Music & More", was opened in Burlington, Ontario on September 4, 1997. With the aid of Onex, Indigo later gained ownership of Chapters, their largest competitor, acquiring the company in 2001 and continuing to operate many stores under the Chapters banner. Indigo also gained the ownership of the Coles chain of small-format bookstores, which was also owned by Chapters.


The company sells books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, gifts, and toys through its website, and in its stores. Its banners currently include Indigo Books & Music, Chapters, and Coles, SmithBooks, IndigoSpirit, and Prospero-The Book Company (small format).

In recent years, Indigo has partnered with Apple and iUniverse publishing. Indigo also manufactures its own brand of products, called IndigoLife. In addition, the chain's Indigo Trusted Advisor Program offers book recommendations from experts in health, finance, and the environment, such as David Bach and David Suzuki.

Charitable activities[edit]

In 2004, Indigo started the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, a program which helps provide new books and learning materials to high-needs elementary schools, enhancing the literacy and self-esteem of students. Indigo commits $1.5 million annually to schools across Canada.

The money is raised exclusively by Indigo customers, individual staff, and proceeds from Love of Reading fundraising products, such as plush toys and gift wrap. Indigo does not match funds or contribute itself. The schools then use 90% of this money to buy books from Indigo, Chapters, or Coles,[2] however Indigo claims it does not benefit from this.[3]

In 2007, the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation produced a documentary chronicling the issue of funding for books in Canadian elementary schools. The documentary Writing on the Wall recounts the establishment of the foundation, while revealing the current conditions of school libraries and literacy in Canada.[4]

Kobo Inc.[edit]

See also: Kobo eReader

Kobo Inc. was originally a wholly owned subsidiary of Indigo. Indigo announced on November 8, 2011, that Japanese ecommerce company Rakuten Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755) had "entered into a definitive agreement under which Rakuten intends to acquire 100% of total issued and outstanding shares of Kobo for US$315 million in cash."[5]

The Kobo e-reading platform has become the dominant player in Canada, with research firm Ipsos Reid estimating that Kobo e-readers represented 36% of the Canadian market as of August 2011.

Market share of e-readers in Canada by Ipsos Reid at August 2011
Sellers Percent

Employee programs[edit]

Indigo was listed in the 2006 and 2007 edition of Canada's Top 100 Employers, as well as Greater Toronto's Top 50 Employers (2007).[7] This is due in part to a staff rewards program which includes benefits eligibility for both full-time and part-time employees. Indigo also offers a company matched RRSP program and yearly employee scholarships.

Criticism and controversies[edit]

Product removal[edit]

In 2001, Indigo removed Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf from the shelves.[8] In 2006, Indigo decided not to sell the June issue of Harper's Magazine, which reprinted the controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad that had led to violent demonstrations around the world.[9] Indigo also did not distribute the issue of Western Standard which reprinted and discussed those same cartoons.[10] The company has also reportedly refused to stock several titles by David Icke, and firearms magazines.[11]

Support of Israel by owners[edit]

In the summer of 2006, the company was targeted by social activists from NION and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. According to a report in This Magazine, CAIA advocated the boycott of Chapters/Indigo stores due to principals Reisman and Schwartz forming the Heseg Foundation for soldiers serving in the Israeli army that have no family living in the state of Israel. The article claimed Reisman and Schwartz donate $3 million a year to the Foundation.

Competitive position[edit]

The Indigo/Chapters chain has been criticized over what some perceive as a virtual monopoly over retail-based book sales in Canada. In 2002, the company strongly opposed the entry of Amazon into the Canadian marketplace with accusations the U.S.-based company was skirting regulations about foreign ownership of Canadian booksellers.[12]

Indigo has also been blamed for undermining the role of independent booksellers in Canada. The company was blamed by many in the Canadian publishing industry for the collapse of Lichtman's, once Canada's largest independent bookseller.[13]


  • Heather Reisman — Chief Executive Officer[14]
  • Kay Brekken — Chief Financial Officer [15]
  • Joyce Gray — Executive Vice President, Retail and Consumer Experience[14]
  • Deirdre Horgan — Executive Vice-President, Chief Marketing Officer[14]
  • Sumit Oberai — Chief Information Officer[14]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]