A few days ago, Raincoast Books announced that it's publishing program is ending this spring. This from a company who's the distributor for all of the Harry Potter books; books that have earned Raincoast more than a few dollars, I expect. According to news articles, the company has found publishing an "unprofitable" venture, even though Raincoast titles have won or have been shortlisted for major awards over the years.
Raincoast will release the final 15 books this spring. Apparently 20 jobs will be lost. So far, I haven't come across any information that discusses how many authors with signed contracts are now left out in the cold.
Imagine taking months, or even years, to write a book. Imagine spending more months and years looking for an agent and/or a publisher, and finally, after 2, 3, 5, or 10 years, landing a contract with a well-known and respected publisher, only to discover that the much-coveted contract you worked so hard for is no longer worth the paper it's written on.
Raincoast reports that the high loonie is the major reason for this decision. The scuttlebutt around the writers' water cooler is that money earned from distribution is not spent on publishing ventures. They're two separate entities, and if one entity fails, too bad.
It is too bad. And disheartening. And a little nauseating. I feel terrible for the writers. Who knows if Canada needs more distributors, but we sure in hell need more publishers. If the high Canadian dollar truly is to blame, is this just the beginning of a trend that will extend across Canada? If you're an author who's just signed a brand new contract with a Canadian company, I hope this doesn't happen to you, because finding a publisher just got a whole lot harder.