Veteran Canadian publisher Kim McArthur announced late on Friday that she is closing her independent publishing house McArthur & Company. She plans to remain involved in Canadian publishing, however, as a literary agent in a new venture she and entertainment lawyer Miron Blumental are starting up, McArthur Blumental Creative.
McArthur & Company has been experiencing financial difficulties in recent years. In 2010, Hachette U.K. moved its Canadian sales and distribution from the company to Hachette U.S. offices, taking all of its agencies and bestselling authors such as Maeve Binchy and Ian Rankin off McArthur’s distribution list. McArthur downsized the company and focused on its Canadian publishing program, but it was not enough to save the company she founded 15 years ago after Time Warner closed Little Brown Canada.
McArthur stressed that she is in the process of closing the publishing house, and it is not bankrupt. “There’s none of this barricade the bomb bay doors and you can’t get at your stock or any of that kind of stuff,” she said. “
McArthur plans to pitch the authors’ work to both multinational publishers in Canada as well as independents and hopes they will buy both new and backlist books . She wants to find “new homes, safe havens for her authors…. In some cases, they will be clients of the new agency, in some cases I’m doing this because [the agents and authors l have all been so patient," she said.
She added that HarperCollins Canada, which has been distributing McArthur books, “is not going to be paid for all of those returns they got last year, but they are going to be paid as I did with Time Warner for the inventory that they have by the new publishers of these authors. I’ve got an author list of about 200, so this the cleanest way I could think to do it.” She hopes some approved government funding for 2012, which was withheld, will be released, which would help pay sales reps.
E-books are posted with various e-retailers — Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Sony, and Google, says McArthur, and she plans to leave them as they are until new publishers are found, so that the transition will be "as seamless as we can make it,” she said.
In the new venture, Miron Blumenthal, who was Maeve Binchy’s entertainment lawyer and who helped produce the films such as Circle of Friends and other projects Binchy wrote directly for television, will look after marketing the books to Hollywood. Both he and McArthur will work on new media projects such as games and apps.
Authors John Brady and Barry Callaghan have already asked McArthur to “count them in” for the agency, she said.
After a very tough year, McArthur says she is “thrilled that she will be able to continue to work with her authors and maybe even continue to edit some of them and find them happy homes with publishers who have more money than McArthur does."