Canadian publishers and booksellers are still digesting last week’s news that HarperCollins Canada will be getting out of the distribution business. Sheila Barry, publisher of Anansi’s kidlit imprint Groundwood Books, one of the nine companies that uses HC Canada for distribution, said that while changing distribution is a big undertaking, they will be fine. “We hope to minimize the effect on our customers as best we can, but this is not an easy thing, moving thousands and thousands of books from one place to another and setting up new systems. But we’ll do it,” she said.
At another client, ChiZine Publication, co-publisher Sandra Kasturi said they’re looking at both U.S. and Canadian distributors as possibilities, including Maryland-based Diamond Book Distributors, who are already handling their distribution globally outside of Canada. She also pointed out, however, that it seems “ludicrous” to have books printed in Canada, shipped to a warehouse in the U.S., and then shipped back to Canada.
Booksellers were also wondering about the efficiency of moving distribution to the U.S. Ben McNally, owner of Toronto bookstore Ben McNally Books, noted that while publishers will find another distributor, “whatever home they find is not going to be nearly as efficient and amenable as the HarperCollins warehouse, based on my experience.” he said. He added: “I loved the HarperCollins warehouse, and there are some people out of work, including David Kent, who I’m going to miss enormously. David Kent is probably one of the most passionate supporters and proponents of Canadian publishing in the country.”
Lisa Doucet, co-manager of Woozles bookstore in Halifax, believes both the decisions by Penguin Canada and HC Canada to move fulfillment to the U.S. will result in longer waits for titles. "I'm hopeful that they will work something out, but I'm afraid that it will" [take longer to get books.], she said.
With the pending closure of the HarperCollins Canada distribution center, Vancouver-based Raincoast Books will be among the top five distributors in Canada in terms of market share, according to BookNet Canada data. Jamie Broadhurst, v-p marketing, said the company, remains “very bullish” about the future of distribution in Canada. “We believe having a warehouse and a customer service staff that knows our Canadian customers so well makes our shipping faster and helps with incremental sales,” Broadhurst said.