Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Today I am devoting this space to my new publisher Dundurn Press. Dundurn opted to buy my former publisher Napoleon last winter, at a time when the book industry was reeling from the e-book revolution, from bookstore closures and from the take-over of the “megabook”. While Amazon, Apple and Google flourished, traditional print enterprises like newspapers, magazines and book publishers struggled to find a way to stay afloat. Few consumers seemed aware that the demise of independent bookstores and smaller Canadian publishers would ultimately mean less diversity, choice and regional voice. In the face of this assault, Dundurn has become a standard bearer.

Dundurn has much to celebrate right now. First of all, forty years of success in the perilous, often penniless business of the publishing world. In honour of this milestone, Dundurn threw an anniversary party last week, which I attended, at the venerable Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. This is an architecturally stunning heritage building with lofty ceilings, lots of wood paneling and carved detailing. As I walked in, I recalled the first two Bloody Words Mystery conferences, which were held in that building in 1999 and 2000. At the time the building had no air-conditioning and although we had lots of fun, as crime writers always do, we sweltered.

I’m happy to report the Arts and Letters Club has come up in the world. It has air-conditioning, and updated decor that still preserves the heritage feel. The party was terrific, with lots of food, free drinks (always a dangerous proposition when writers are invited) and an impressive selection of their books on display and for sale. I met not only my editor and former publisher, but my new publisher, Kirk Howard, and marketing, sales, design and publicity people. The mood was buoyant, and although I am a relative newcomer to the company, I was welcomed with enthusiasm. Well done and Happy Anniversary, Dundurn.

A major reason for the buoyant mood, apart from the feat of surviving and thriving in today’s book world, was Dundurn’s nomination for the Publisher of the Year Libris Award by members of the Canadian Booksellers’ Association. The actual winner will be announced on June 3, but as anyone who has ever been shortlisted knows, the shortlist is the thing. It is a huge honour to be recognized by one’s colleagues for one’s contribution to the Canadian book scene. All the more in this case because Dundurn is the only 100% Canadian-owned company on the shortlist. Dundurn’s motto is “Defining Canada” and its dedication to Canadian history, biography, fiction, and indeed now Canadian mysteries is something to celebrate. If we value Canadian content, regional voices and diversity, this is a nomination to be celebrated.

I wish them all the best on June 3.


Rick Blechta said...

I agree – and it was a great party.

Charlotte Hinger said...

This is so encouraging. It's great to know some publishers are determined to stay in the game.