As a student of communication/publishing/journalism/media as well as a freelance writer, editor, and designer, I like to keep myself informed about the Canadian publishing industry.
However, sometimes I feel like I’m treading rapidly just to stay afloat in all the news. So I figured others may feel that way too. Or perhaps they want to know more about CanLit but don’t know where to look. Or don’t have time to wade through all the publishing news. Or this, or that, or whatever, or et cetera. Anyway, without further adieu, here are some recent(ish) news stories from the world of Canadian publishing:
Canada Reads 2013
The annual battle of the radio readers takes place February 11-14, 2013. Last year when they announced the 2013 Canada Reads, they revealed it was going to be a popular vote based on location, or “turf wars”. The question CBC Books asked was: What book best represented the literature from the region you call home?
CBC designated 5 regions: British Columbia and Yukon, Prairies and North, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces. From the hundreds of suggestions that came pouring in via social media, they narrowed each region down to a top 10, and again to a top 5, from which the panelists took their pick.
- British Columbia and Yukon: Carol Huynh (athlete) defends Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
- Prairies and North: Ron MacLean (broadcaster) defends The Age of Hope by David Bergen
- Ontario: Charlotte Gray (author/historian) defends Away by Jane Urquhart
- Quebec: Jay Baruchel (actor) defends Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan
- Atlantic Provinces: Trent McClellan (comedian) defends February by Lisa Moore
I’ve only read February by Lisa Moore, but it is such an excellent pick for the Atlantic provinces. I’ve not read Indian Horse specifically, but I have read Richard Wagamese’s work, and I am so happy and proud to see his voice represent our region.
Even if you’re only paying a fleeting attention to the world of books and Canadian publishing, you’ve probably heard about the trouble with Douglas & McIntyre. D&M is(was) one of Vancouver’s largest independent publishers and late last year they filed for creditor protection.
The Bad: Long story short, “documents filed last year … revealed that D&M owes $6.3 million to 143 creditors.” In December, they then received a 45-day extension on the creditor protection. While in creditor protection, the company has to figure out how to refinance, or find a buyer for the assets, and the people that they owe money to cannot demand payment.
The Good: A few days ago it was announced that Heritage House Publishing (a local BC publisher) has acquired all assets of the Greystone Books imprint. They intend to establish Greystone Books as a separate company, with Greystone’s founding publisher Rob Sanders as a shareholder and Nancy Flight returning as associate publisher. Publishers Weekly has an in-depth article about how the acquisition came about.
The Maybe: The other imprint, New Society Publishers, was a separate legal entity and basically operated solo. New Society didn’t file for bankruptcy protection, and Q&Q recently reported that the New Society shares were sold on January 25 ($600,000). I’ve heard rumours that the owners just bought back their shares and it will be operating independently again. [update: Q&Q article confirms]
The Maybe, Part II: “An offer has been received for Douglas & McIntyre and an asset purchase agreement is being finalized. The trustee, [The Bowra Group] is seeking to extend creditor protection until April 4 in order to close the deal. If such a deal were completed, D&M Publishers would avoid bankruptcy and be eligible to continue receiving federal and provincial grants. If an extension is not granted, D&M Publishers would have until Feb. 18 to file a proposal.” (Quill & Quire)
The Good, Part II: Today (Feb 6) Harbour Publishing announced that they were acquiring D&M! According to an article in the National Post, the deal includes “rights to the D&M name, the company’s back catalogue and all  books under contract”. That is fantastic news!! And I lovelovelove this statement from Harbour founder Howard White: “I don’t kid myself in thinking it’s not still a great loss, that D&M as it was constituted, is going to be no more […] But given that that happened, I think we’ve gotten as good a result as we could expect, with all those books staying in B.C. and two fairly solid presses committed to keeping the programs going.”
Globe & Mail Books
Last week, a Toronto newspaper reported that the Globe & Mail books editors Martin Levin and Jack Kirchhoff would no longer “serve in their posts” leaving the national paper without a books editor. The books section’s budget had been slashed last summer, and the content was merged into the arts coverage instead of a separate stand-alone sections. Readers got in an uproar.
The next day, the Globe & Mail announced that they were not cutting the books section, but the editors would be reassigned and a new books editor would be hired. Levin will become the obituaries editor and Kirchoff’s new position hasn’t yet been announced. The Literary Press Group has a very level-headed post about the whole misunderstanding.
Then, in an odd turn of events, people got in an uproar about the job posting. I can see exactly why: most people would not describe the ideal candidate for a newspaper editor as requiring a “robust metabolism”, even if they were the food editor.
Robson Reading Series
Local recurring event, Robson Reading Series, will be stopping at the end of March 2013. The event has operated for 10 years, but had to move from their location at the UBC Library Robson Square location when it closed in August. They’ve been running the series out of UBC’s downtown bookstore, but that will be closing soon too. The Irving K Barber Learning Centre at UBC is hoping to find a new home for the reading series, but they also had funding issues too, so nothing is confirmed.
Earlier this week, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin (3 of the world’s biggest publishers) launched an e-commerce website for readers called Bookish. They currently have “2 million titles (print and digital) from 19 publishers” with original content from high-profile international authors. Reader reviews will be encourage and they will have “a recommendations engine, author profiles, stories, interviews, and first-chapter previews.” Quill & Quire reports “consumers can purchase directly from the website, or through links to third-party affiliates, including Kobo, Amazon, and Apple’s iBookstore.”