After months of bankruptcy protection, a silver lining has appeared around some of the storm clouds over D&M Publishers in Vancouver. B.C.-based Heritage House Publishing has acquired all assets of the Greystone Books imprint from D&M.
Late Thursday, Heritage president Rodger Touchie and Greystone founding publisher Rob Sanders announced the purchase and plans to establish Greystone Books as a separate company, with Sanders as a significant shareholder.
According to the announcement, Touchie initiated the deal and “was assisted by long-time Greystone business partners, including the Perseus Books Group from New York. Publishers Group West, the California-based division of Perseus will continue to distribute Greystone titles in the United States. PGW distribution of Greystone will be extended to include all territories around the world except Canada; Canadian distribution to the book trade will continue to be handled by HarperCollins Canada. Heritage House affiliate Heritage Group distribution will provide broad exposure of Greystone titles to rural accounts in Western Canada.”
Sanders will immediately resume his role as publisher, a position he held from 1993 until a year ago. Nancy Flight, who helped Sanders build Greystone, will also return as associate publisher. A list of new 2013 books is forthcoming, the announcement promised.
"In the past 20 years Greystone Books built a significant legacy in Canadian publishing,” Touchie said. “I have long admired their program and have great respect for both Rob and Nancy. They will add immensely to our Heritage Group team, and together we will make sure Greystone is around for a long time to come."
Sanders credited Touchie with the “rebirth of Greystone Books,” and described it as “good for the authors, for those of us involved in the ongoing publishing program, and for independent publishing in Canada. It is a good news story in an industry where good news is badly needed right now."
Greystone is well-known for its high quality non-fiction list and especially for books about nature and the environment. Renowned Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki published many books with Greystone, and this fall, Greystone author Candace Savage won the country’s biggest prize for literary non-fiction, the C$60,000 Hilary Weston Writers Trust prize, for her book A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape, (Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation).
Heritage House produces 20 to 30 titles a year focused on nonfiction by Canadian authors. The Heritage Group consists of Heritage House Publishing, Touchwood Editions and Rocky Mountain Books. In 1996 Rodger and Pat Touchie acquired Heritage from Art Downs, who formed the company in 1969. The companies will now have offices in Victoria, Vancouver and Calgary; the administration offices are at Heritage Group distribution in Surrey, British Columbia.
Greystone Books was started in 1993 by Sanders as an imprint and publishing division of what was then Douglas & McIntyre Ltd. It included the assets of Western Producer Prairie Books, a Saskatoon-based regional publisher at which Sanders was the publisher between 1975 and 1987.
The future of other parts of D&M remain in question, but the announcement of this sale also included word that “D&M anticipates further asset sales announcements in the near future.” New Society Publishers is a separate legal entity, did not file for protection and has continued its business as usual.