Sunday, February 06, 2011

Canadian Publishing Industry Takes Another Hit

The Canadian publishing industry has certainly had its ups and downs over the years—decades, actually—and let’s face it, sometimes the whole industry seems built on a precariously perched stack of cards. For instance, nearly every publisher depends, to varying degrees, on government grants to publish books. Whenever governments cut those grants, publishing programs are reduced, and sometimes a publishing house ceases to exist.

When the Chapters bookstore chain started up a few years ago, the fear and frenzy among publishers and bookstore owners ran into overdrive, and sadly, there were casualties. Nearly all of the independent bookstores I used to do business with folded, smaller distributors (including mine) went bankrupt, and publishers waited longer than ever for payment.

The latest development rocking the publishing scene is this week’s announcement that Canada’s largest book distributor, HB Fenn, is filing for bankruptcy. A number of reasons were given: a significant loss of business due to competition, the steep discounting of books, and the skyrocketing popularity of ebooks. The bottom line is that Fenn’s demise is putting 125 people out of work and sending publishers scrambling to find another distribution outlet, which for the short term could hurt their bottom lines, too.

Although the turmoil in this industry seems perpetual, a wide variety of books are still published, reviewed, and sold every year. Savvy writers and publishers are not only used to it, but will adapt. In other words, it’s business as usual. To read the whole story by Vit Wagner from The Toronto Star, go to

Coming in March 2011, THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at


Carole Anne Carr said...

It's a relief to know that in the UK a large number of books are still being purchase. Sad for those businesses that fold.

Tony Benson said...

It seems that all industries are suffering in this economic climate, but few so much as high street book retailers. Increasing competition from online sales and a rising market share for ebooks are compounding an already fragile situation for them. I wonder when this will stabilise - it might take a few years yet.