Thursday, January 10, 2008

why is it, every five years some publisher decides to be the next hot thing in canadian literary fiction (while getting plenty of attention for saying/doing it), & then, slowly & eventually, they fall to the wayside (when they realize there's no money in it), when the rest of publishing is still here, continuing to make books...?

Raincoast Books to ditch publishing arm (from

At least one Canadian author says she feels "cut adrift" after Raincoast Books, the West Coast company that brought the blockbuster Harry Potter series to Canadian readers, announced Monday its imminent departure from the publishing business.

The Vancouver-based company is halting its publishing program and announced other cost-cutting measures, putting the blame on the strong Canadian dollar and the resulting detrimental effect on the book retail industry.

The 15 books set for release this spring will be the final slate from Raincoast, which largely counted West Coast and children's book authors in its publishing stable.

"It basically means that I've been cut adrift," children's book author and illustrator Cynthia Nugent told CBC News.

Nugent, whose credits include illustrating the popular book Mister Got to Go and penning the pre-teen novel Francesca and the Magic Bike, said she has published the majority of her oeuvre with Raincoast.

"Everything I have will cease to be in print, once the ones they have are sold out and the current project has been cancelled," she said.

Co-founded by Allan MacDougall and Mark Stanton in 1979, and currently headed by MacDougall, Raincoast gained fame both for the Harry Potter series and its use of post-consumer recycled paper in its printing.

Raincoast officials said the company plans to refocus on its core business of distribution and wholesaling, but the streamlining measures will mean the closing of its warehouse in Mississauga, Ont., axing about 20 jobs in Vancouver and Toronto and reducing the number of its distribution clients.

Nevertheless, the company will continue to offer the Harry Potter books — part of its ultra-successful venture with U.K. publisher Bloomsbury — to Canadians, they added.

Amid the rapid rise of the Canadian dollar last fall, anger grew among the book-buying public over the fact that prices in Canada remained significantly higher than those of U.S. retailers.

In interviews on Monday, Raincoast marketing vice-president Jamie Broadhurst said that, in response, the company dramatically dropped its suggested retail prices by 20 per cent. He described the shuttering of the publishing program as a tough but necessary measure.

"It's, of course, really sad news for the staff and for publishing in general," said Margaret Reynolds, executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia.
However, she added that other B.C. publishers could be able to pick up the slack left by Raincoast.

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