“Boy, do I have big shoes to fill,” says Marc Côté when asked how he feels about stepping into his new role as publisher at Thomas Allen & Son. But he’s clearly excited about the opportunity to succeed editor and publisher Patrick Crean, who, after a high point of publishing the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, has decided he wants to take a creative sabbatical from publishing after 12 years at Thomas Allen. Côté, current president, publisher and co-owner of Cormorant Books, is excited enough to move his Cormorant offices from a loft space in downtown Toronto and take on an hour-long commute into the north of the city to the Thomas Allen offices from which he will coordinate his time as publisher of two independent publishing houses.
It’s an unusual position, but in recent months, the two houses have been developing a close symbiotic relationship. In April, Thomas Allen bought a minority share in Cormorant, which was struggling financially, and at the time, the companies announced that Thomas Allen would provide sales and distribution as well as accounting services for Cormorant. And although their lists remained separate, Côté and Crean spoke of the opportunities for collaboration and mutual support on the editorial side. And this month, that cooperation will bear some fruit. Together, the two houses will release c-stories--400 short stories from about 25 Canadian authors published in the Thomas Allen and Cormorant short fiction collections, along with some new ones. The stories will only be made available for sale in a digital form, and they will be sold exclusively from the websites of independent bookstores.
Asked how he will manage splitting his time and energies between two publishers, Côté emphasizes that he will not be doing the editing work at Thomas Allen that Crean was involved in. Those responsibilities, including acquiring titles, will fall to senior editor Janice Zawerbny. At Cormorant, Bryan Ibeas will become an acquiring editor, and Barry Jowett has been promoted from associate publisher to publisher of the children’s imprint Dancing Cat Books.
“I really respect [Thomas Allen president and CEO] Jim Allen and Janice Zawerbny, and I look forward to making Thomas Allen continue to be a great publishing imprint,” says Côté.