Due to a last-minute intervention by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics (VANOC), Chicago publisher Triumph Books (an imprint of Random House) was forced last week to cancel publication of an instant book commemorating Team Canada's recapturing the 2010 Olympic gold medals in men and women's ice hockey, leaving Toronto publisher Key Porter Books (an imprint of Fenn Publishing) the first -- and perhaps the only -- publisher to release a book celebrating the historic victory of Team Canada over Team USA during this year's Olympic Winter Games.
As soon as Team Canada defeated Team USA in a 3-2 overtime victory in the February 28 epic battle for the gold in men's ice hockey, the two sports-oriented publishers each decided to move forward with instant books commemorating the matchups between the neighboring countries during this year's games. Triumph and Key Porter both hoped to tap into the intense outpouring of Canadian national pride in recapturing the gold in ice hockey, as well as the Canadian passion for the game, as demonstrated by a television audience of 16.6 million Canadian viewers, 2.3 million more than the 14.3 million Canadians who watched the closing ceremony that same evening.
The two publishers, both major players in the instant book niche, intended to send the books to press early in the week and ship them to Canadian accounts by midweek, so that the books would be on store shelves across Canada by March 5.
Neither publisher would have published a book if Team USA had won Sunday afternoon's game, with Triumph publisher Mitch Rogatz citing the lack of a "definable, reachable audience" with "staying power" in the U.S. market, and Key Porter publisher Jordan Fenn implying there's not a lot of interest in the sport in the U.S.
Just as Champions: A Nation's Passion, A Nation's Pride was going to press with a 20,000-copy initial print run, Triumph was informed by VANOC through its content partner, Canadian media conglomerate CanWest, that the images used by CanWest in its television and print coverage of the 2010 Games had not been authorized by VANOC for publication in book format.
"The Canadian Olympic Committee has sway," Mitch Rogatz, Triumph's publisher declared. "It trumps the First Amendment in relation to photos and stories."
Declining to disclose just how much money Triumph lost in aborting the book, Rogatz was disappointed yet philosophical, saying, "We lost a lot of time, energy, and enthusiasm. But we always play by the rules, and we've just been introduced to a new set of rules. So we'll make the best of it and move on."Responding to PW's inquiry, Chris Brumwell, VANOC's media relations director explained that the organization had already put into place a publishing program with their partners prior to the start of the start of the 2010 Winter Games, and VANOC "is not in a position to accept unsolicited proposals."
As Triumph's project quickly unraveled little more than a day after it'd been greenlighted, Key Porter went to press with a 45,000-copy initial print run of Canadian Gold: 2010 Olympic Ice Hockey Champions by Andrew Podnieks. (Podnieks is described as a "veteran hockey author" of more than 50 books, in a Key Porter press release.) Canadian Gold, which is licensed by Hockey Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee, bears the official Olympic logo. The book's official status, Fenn noted without elaborating, protected the press from "fear of reprisals" in publishing it.
Although Key Porter has a U.S. distributor, PGW, it doesn't intend to actively market Canadian Gold to U.S. sports enthusiasts. "This is a very Canadian book," Fenn said. "There might be Sidney Crosby fans interested in [Canadian Gold], but general hockey fans [outside Canada] aren't going to be interested."
Canadian Gold isn't the only 2010 Winter Olympics book that Key Porter rushed to press this week. Canada's Olympic Diary, a day-by-day recap of events during the 17-day games, went to press March 1 with a 32,000-copy initial print run. Produced in collaboration with the Canadian Press, the official host news agency for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and focusing primarily upon the Canadian athletes participating in the Games, Canada's Olympic Diary is being marketed almost exclusively within Canada.
Later this spring, Wiley Publishing will release, in collaboration with VANOC, With Glowing Hearts: The Official Commemorative Book of the XXIst Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games/Des Plus Brilliants Exploits: Le Livre Commemoratif Officiel des XXIieme Jeux Olympiques d'Hiver et des Xieme Jeux Paralympiques d'Hiver (June), a general recap of the 2010 Winter Games, which will be aggressively marketed to an international audience.