Canadian publisher Fitzhenry & Whiteside have acquired Whitecap Books, the British Columbia independent best known for its culinary tites. Whitecap Books co-owner and publisher Michael Burch says he and co-owner Nick Rundall decided to sell their company to Toronto-based Fitzhenry & Whiteside Publishers as a first step toward retiring.

“Amalgamation with another company makes the company stronger,” Burch said, “And I am 67 years old, and as we know in this business, it’s very hard to establish a good exit strategy.” Selling to Fitzhenry & Whiteside seemed like a good solution, he added, because the company was already distributing Whitecap’s books in Canada, had all of Whitecap’s books in the warehouse, and because the two companies already had a good relationship. The company has a list of about 400 titles.

Burch said Whitecap was doing very well and had shown “a healthy profit” for the last year, which ended April 30. “It’s a fact of life that when you get into your 60s you’d like to slow down a bit… and not have the amount of responsibility that I had, but at the same time, I’m not in a hurry to quit completely,” he said. So while financial responsibility for Whitecap shifted to Fitzhenry & Whiteside as of July 31, Burch is staying on as publisher and Rundall as sales manager for what will be Fitzhenry & Whiteside’s new imprint under the Whitecap name. The Whitecap staff will all remain working in Whitecap’s Vancouver offices. Burch said he’s looking after the fall publishing list and is working on the list for 2013. “It’s hard to put a timeframe on this situation, but that’s what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future.”

Fitzhenry & Whiteside president Sharon Fitzhenry was not available to comment, but according to a company press release “owners Hollister Doll and Sharon Fitzhenry are enthusiastic about the opportunities this close association brings to the current and future publishing mandate of Fitzhenry & Whiteside and its partners.”