February 4, 2013

Surveys reveal positive climate for independent Canadian publishing

Two recent surveys (November 2012 and January 2013) conducted by the Association of Canadian Publishers of its members reveal a positive climate for independent Canadian-owned book publishers. Asked if 2012 had been better than the previous year, worse, or about the same, 23% said that 2011 and 2012 had been about the same,  22% said that 2012 had been worse than 2011; most (55%) said it had been better.  Asked if 2012 had been a good year overall for their firms, 80% answered yes.

Buoyed by these positive trends, independent publishers from across Canada gathered in Toronto this past weekend for the ACP’s annual midwinter meeting, to celebrate another year of rich and diverse output from Canadian authors, and to consider the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2013. 

“It’s such an important time for us,” said ACP president Bill Harnum. “Independent publishers have the freedom to experiment in ways that the subsidiaries of multinationals do not. That’s why Canadian-owned companies have always been the ones to find most new Canadian authors and bring them into print, through venerated companies like Anansi and Annick and Coach House, and through new players that have grown up in recent years, like Freehand and Biblioasis. This same freedom to experiment applies in new technology as well. We don’t have the big head-office resources for it, but we’ve been very effective by working together to try new approaches. It’s really gratifying to see the positive numbers for 2012, but it shouldn’t be surprising.”

Highlights of the meeting included:

  • A progress report on 49thshelf.com, a discoverability platform launched less than a year ago, that is making it easier for readers, teachers, librarians, and producers of film and television, to find 59,000 Canadian-authored titles they can read, discuss, buy, teach, and transform into other media.
  • An update on a pilot project between publishers and public libraries, which will enable greater access to Canadian ebooks for library users across Canada.
  • A discussion with Amazon.ca about improving availability of Canadian print and ebooks in online retailing.  An update on the National Reading Campaign.