Aguacene is a new publisher with a mission focused on water stewardship. “As the founder of an eco-publishing company native to a country which is steward to 20% of the planet’s fresh water, I see myself as an agent of change for a cleaner and more sustainable industry,” says founder Karen Lefave. The publisher is thus far focused on releasing a single book series. Dubbed Nemecene, the series will have a total of 10 books to be published over several years.
The first two titles are a science fiction fantasy tale by Karen Lafave, Nemecene: The Epoch of Redress and Nemecene: The Gadlin Conspiracy, and are now on sale, and the third title in the series, Nemecene: Through Fire And Ice, will be in stores March 6, 2018. NBN distributes the series in the United States.
“With Aguacene Publishing—aguacene means the epoch of water—environmentally conscious authors have a place to share their works with a solid fan base, in a sustainable print format, and help fund critical work in the water space simply by doing what they do best: writing great stories,” Lefave says.
Rick Wilks, director of Annick Press, is passionate about getting contemporary trade books into the classroom. “I feel this is the best way to build a generation of readers, demonstrate the joy of reading and get around the fact that I was able to give the books I read in high school many decades ago to my kids—not that they are bad books, but we have to move on,” he says.
Through the Annick partnership with Pearson Canada, the company has placed many Annick collections in classrooms, which has built sales. “Our most popular collections dealt with issues of diversity and indigenous themes,” Wilks says.
Wilks notes that while 60% of the press’s revenue comes from sales in the United States and 40% from Canada, the growth is on the international side. “We have entered into an agreement to have our English-language titles distributed internationally,” he says. “We still very actively sell translation rights, but in recognition of the international interest in English-language books for youth, we have made efforts to expand our marketing.” As a result, sales are up this year, likely in the range of 5% overall.
Among titles attracting some of the most attention this year have been #Not Your Princess by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale; Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale, which has shipped 5,000 copies; and I Love My Purse by Belle DeMont, illus. by Sonja Wimmer—“It’s a fun, spunky story about a boy who doesn’t feel it’s always necessary to conform to societal norms, especially with respect to gender,” Wilks says.
Central to Annick’s publishing program has been the work of perennial bestseller Robert Munsch; the press has several projects underway this year with the children’s book author, starting with the republication of Munsch’s From Far Away, with new illustrations by Rebecca Green. Originally published in 1995, the book describes the life of a girl who immigrated to Canada from Lebanon, and her attempts to fit in at a new school. “It’s become a huge book for us, reprinting as soon as it was published,” Wilks says. “This title very much reflects the current Canadian story—our commitment to refugees and what the coming-to-North America experience is like for a young person.” Annick is repackaging much of Munsch’s backlist, with new covers and a slightly revamped interior design on 22 of his titles, to be released at the rate of five per season; it will also begin selling bundles of Munsch titles as e-books, in collaboration with Open Road Integrated Media in New York.
The latter is among several new licensing and digital initiatives, which includes a project to develop an enhanced e-book of The Dance of the Violin. The picture book by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petricic stars real-life celebrity violinist Joshua Bell. It follows on the popularity of the first book The Man with the Violin, which Bell himself turned into a special multimedia concert; it premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in February, and Bell will present it again at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in December.
The Vancouver publishing house has had its two strongest years to date. “We had successes from U.S.-authored titles including Conflict Is Not Abuse, a nonfiction book by Sarah Schulman, now in its fifth printing in less than a year, and the cookbook Chowgirls Killer Party Food by Heidi Andermack and Amy Lynn Brown,” says Brian Lam, publisher. “But Canadian titles were also strong sellers for us, including two by Vivek Shraya: the poetry book even this page is white, now in its fourth printing in just over a year, and The Boy & the Bindi, our very first children’s picture book.”
This fall, Arsenal Pulp is launching a new humor imprint, Robin’s Egg Books, selected by comedian and writer Charles Demers, and will focus on books by comedians. The first title is What I Think Happened, which recasts historiography from a feminist perspective, by Toronto comedian Evany Rosen. And in 2018 VS Books is launching, an imprint and mentorship program that will publish books by writers of color, edited by Vivek Shraya.
“This year we are finishing with an unexpectedly strong debut novel by Catherine Hernandez, Scarborough, which has been shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award and is a bestseller,” Lam says. The company is also expecting good things from the cookbook Dutch Feast by Emily Wight, and the graphic novels Saigon Calling by Marcelino Truong, and Body Music by Julie Maroh, whose first book, Blue Is the Warmest Color, was a New York Times bestseller and has sold 70,000 copies. “We also have a new children’s picture book, From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, about a gender-variant child, written by Kai Cheng Thom, who won the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Writers from the Writers’ Trust of Canada this year,” Lam adds.
The Montreal press has broken new ground with its QC imprint, which focuses on finding and publishing new voices, new translators, and new approaches, headed by literary translator Peter McCambridge. One of its first books, published this year, is, Robin Philpot, publisher of Baraka, says, “I Never Talk About It, 37 short stories by two authors, translated by 37 different translators, beautifully disputes the idea that there is a single way to interpret an author’s voice and [illustrates] that translation is an act of creation in its own right. The book has literally jumped out of the starting blocks.”
“Challenging received ideas and ways of doing things is satisfying intellectually, but it also makes good business sense,” Philpot says. He cites two other examples: Songs Upon the Rivers, by Robert Foxcurran, Michel Bouchard, and Sebastien Malette challenges the Anglo-American narrative of “how the West was won” and concerns buried history of the French-speaking voyageurs and Métis across the United States and Canada, and Washington’s Long War on Syria by Stephen Gowans “turns the tired story of that terrible war on its head and puts blame where it belongs.” Both books sold out their first printings and have been reprinted.
For the fall, Philpot is setting his hopes on Wintersong, the third volume of Mick Lowe’s Nickel Range trilogy, about a labor strike in the 1970s. “The dark horse for the holiday season is Montreal, City of Secrets: Confederate Operations in Montreal During the American Civil War by Barry Sheehy, which is being published in October,” Philpot says. “It has been widely lauded by Lincoln and Civil War specialists on both sides of the border, first for the hitherto unknown information it reveals, and second for the treasure trove of original photos of Confederate operatives in Montreal by the famous photographer William Notman.”
QC Fiction editor Peter McCambridge is touting Songs for the Cold of Heart (July 2018), the English-language translation of Eric Dupont’s La Fiancée américaine, a runaway bestseller in Quebec and France, which has sold more than 70,000 copies. “It’s the kind of novel that sums up what QC Fiction is all about,” McCambridge says. “It has great writing with plenty of plot to keep readers entertained. One Quebec reviewer wrote about the book, ‘If the Americans have John Irving and the Colombians Gabriel García Márquez, we have Eric Dupont. And he’s every bit as good as them.’ ”
“I still think we as Canadian publishers have an opportunity to make more of an impression on New York City book buyers,” David Caron, copublisher of ECW, says, citing the phenomenal success of the musical Come from Away, about people stranded in Newfoundland after the September 11 terrorist attacks. “We distribute and sell our books in the United States and publish more American authors than any other Canadian press.”
Last year, the company had an Indie Next pick, selected by the American Booksellers Association. That book, The Clay Girl, a novel by Heather Tucker, sold 5,000 copies, 3,000 in the United States. “Unfortunately, while our sales around the world are up by roughly 25%, including Canada, we’re down in the U.S. by some 15%,” Caron says. “People say that Americans are focused on the crazy news from Washington that pops up every day and the various natural disasters.”
As for what’s selling this year, ECW’s new wrestling titles—NXT: The Future Is Now by Jon Robinson and Sisterhood of the Squared Circle by Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy—have done best, along with Careergasm: Find Your Way to Feel-Good Work by Sarah Vermunt, and Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers: The Rise of Motörhead by Martin Popoff.
“As for what’s coming this fall, our big books will be Fast Ice, about rising hockey superstars, and Jesse Fink’s book, Bon: The Last Highway, about the legendary AC/DC frontman, Bon Scott,” Caron says. “Just as big will be some interesting new directions for us, including The Science of Orphan Black—an official book about the science within the popular TV show, published in license from Boat Rocker—and the debut of a YA fantasy series, S.M. Beiko’s Scion of the Fox. We have another YA fantasy series debuting in the spring, Call of the Rift by Jae Waller.”
The Canada 150 celebrations have been good to HarperCollins Canada, and the company has had several top-selling success stories, including several coloring books and the bestselling board book, Canada ABC by Paul Covello. But it was the company’s local program, with two Giller Prize shortlisted books in 2016, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue and Daydreams of Angels by Heather O’Neill, as well as 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Max Eisen’s memoir, By Chance Alone—shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize—that made the company proud.
“The softening of the e-book market was a challenge for us, but has not been as impactful, as print sales have been strong,” Cory Beatty, senior director, marketing, says. “Books such as The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, which has been phenomenally popular in Canada, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas proved substantial hits in both nonfiction and YA, and look to have continued success through the holiday period. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is one of the year’s most successful novels, chosen as both a Heather’s Pick [at Indigo & Chapters] and by Reese Witherspoon for her book club.”
The Ripple Effect by Greg Wells, a health guide, remained a bestseller for several months. A debut novel, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and the second book from Vancouver novelist Janie Chang, Dragon Springs Road, were national hits for the publisher.
Beatty expects the ice hockey memoir Killer by former Maple Leafs star Doug Gilmour to be the biggest nonfiction book of the year. A massive 30-city tour is planned. Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe, who had unprecedented access to the Canadian singer/songwriter and her circle, is another likely bestseller. Rounding out the fall, Jamie Oliver’s Five Ingredients and the novel Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan are poised to be Harper’s breakout titles through the holiday season. “And 2018 begins with a book already receiving significant buzz worldwide with publication confirmed in over 30 languages: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, which will publish on January 2. We will likely start the year with a winner, too,” says Beatty.
Kids Can Press
“It was a year of momentum for Kids Can Press,” Lisa Lyons, president, says. “Maybe our proudest achievement is that we were awarded the prestigious Bologna Prize, Children’s Publishers of the Year, North America, at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair this past March. “
The company also saw a series of new partnerships, including one with McDonald’s Canada to place Kids Can Press books into Happy Meals. The program started in May 2017 and will continue for a year, with titles changing every two months. Some of those featured are Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt; Franklin the Turtle by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brenda Clark; Life in the Wild by Nicholas Oldland; and Dragon Safety by Jean E. Pendziwol, illus. by Martine Gourboult. Another new partner is Nelson Educational. “We are going to combine our resources to develop classroom library collections that will focus on important topics, such as diversity and well-being,” says Lyons. “Here, our Citizen Kid line of books is likely to be an important contribution.”
Kids Can’s switch to Hachette for distribution is starting to pay dividends for the company, which is reporting stronger sales in the United States, particularly at independent stores and special sales. “We are now able to get our books into a wider range of stores,” says Lyons.
Last year, Kids Can announced its first foray into YA publishing with the KCP Loft imprint. The first titles went on sale this year, and the series celebrated its launch with a party in Los Angeles sponsored by the Ontario Media Development Corporation. “There were more than 80 film and television executives there,” Lyons says. She’s particularly excited by Kiss Me in New York (fall 2018) by Catherine Rider (the pen name for a pair of screenwriters): “It’s like a combination of the movies An Affair to Remember and Before Sunrise.” Another KCP Loft title expected to do well next year is Lost Causes by Alussa Emberee Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting, about a group of ne’er-do-wells pulled into a murder investigation by the FBI. KCP Loft has also signed a deal for a novel based on the life story of Carley Allison, a singer and figure skater who died young and whose biopic, Kiss and Cry, was released in early 2017; another deal will see a YA book adaptation of the award-winning Canadian web series Carmilla, which has been viewed more than 69 million times.
The company also continues to develop highly appealing preschool and picture books, including Goodnight, Hockey Fans by Andrew Larsen, illus. by Jacqui Lee, which is being positioned to sell during the holiday season. Another, Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Star by Chris Tougas, needs no explanation.
Linda Leith Editions
“We are that rare bird, a Canadian publisher who works in both English and French—you can thank Montreal for that,” says Linda Leith, publisher of her eponymous house launched in 2012. Now, five years later, the publisher has attracted attention for a pair of English-language translations of Xue Yiwei, who is a bestselling writer in China who lives in Montreal. The first book, Shenzheners, was published in 2016 and won the Blue Metropolis Literary Diversity Prize; it is now in its third printing. This was followed with the novel Dr. Bethune’s Children, just published in September, which garnered 800 advance orders. “That’s a high number for a literary translation in Canada,” Leith says.
Other books getting advance notice are The Apocalypse of Morgan Turner by Jennifer Quist, coming next spring, and The Vetala by Phillip Ernest, a Sanskrit vampire novel set in India, also out next year. A high rate of return from Canadian publishers has prompted Leith, who is distributed by SPD in the United States, to pursue more sales abroad. “We’re an uppity Montreal press testing the international waters and on the move,” Leith says.
Nimbus Publishing and Vagrant Press
The Nova Scotia publishing house was named by PW one of North America’s fast-growing independent publishers in 2017. Between 2014 and 2016, the publisher doubled its production, going from approximately 30 new titles a year to close to 50, and saw revenue growth of 31%. “We’ve seen massive success with our 2017 titles, with Canadian bestsellers in everything from adult nonfiction, like The Sea Was in Their Blood by Quentin Casey, which sold 4,000 copies, to children’s picture books, with The Land Beyond the Wall, written and illustrated by Veronika Martenova,” says Karen McMullin, national publicist. “The book Canada 150 Panoramas, sold 6,000 copies, and After Many Years sold 4,000.”
One surprise was sales of The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis by Sheree Fitch. The book, originally published in 1996, has had two reprints already, most likely because of the release this summer of Maudie, a feature film about Lewis, and because Fitch has opened a seasonal bookshop, Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery, in River John, across the Bay of Fundy from Digby, Nova Scotia, where Lewis lived and painted. Another title the publisher brought back into print: After Many Years, a book of “long-lost” stories by Prince Edward Island author L.M. Montgomery, of the classic Anne of Green Gables series.
Orca Book Publishers
“Our nonfiction line continues to grow and 2017 was a great year for Stepping Stones by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr,” Andrew Wooldridge, publisher at Orca Books said. “This story, in English and Arabic, of a refugee family fleeing Syria with artwork by a Syrian artist has raised more than C$60,000 for refugee resettlement and has been sold in 8 foreign markets.”
Wooldridge reports that The Orca Footprints and Orca Origins series are both doing very well in both the institutional and trade markets. Overall, there have been improved sales, Canada up almost 30% and the US up 10%.
“This year marked a milestone in the trade for us as we took our sales representation in-house after many years with independent reps. Orca now handles all aspects of sales and marketing in-house,” he said.
Wrapping up the year, Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation has just released and “looks to be our big book for the fall,” Wooldridge said. Erin Paisley'sCan Your Smartphone Change The World is another title that has had strong early sales after publication.
A few highlights for Pajama Press this year have been the acquisition of Wendy Orr’s fantasy novel Dragonfly Song and Suzanne Del Rizzo’s My Beautiful Birds, a Syrian refugee story that was reviewed and featured in the New York Times. The picture book Not Friends by Rebecca Bender has taken off, as has Marie-Louise Gay’s early reader Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent.
“Our 2017 sales, year to date, are much healthier than 2016, and we are publishing 18 titles this year as opposed to 20 last year,” says Gail Winskill, publisher. “Our Canadian sales are up 29% over last year with some considerable billing yet to come over the next few months to our calendar and fiscal yearend. In the U.S., we are up 33.2% year-to-date over our 2016 sales year-to-date. Still, Canadian sales are approximately 33% of our overall sales this year. Our U.S. sales are approximately 61%, and our international sales are currently at about 6% of our overall sales.”
Penguin Random House Canada
On November 18, Penguin Random House Canada will be hosting a public forum at the University of Toronto to instigate dialogue among Canadians about the future of their country. Dubbed “The Courage to Lead,” the daylong event will focus on Canada’s role in the world and the challenges the country faces ahead. Among those speaking is Naomi Klein, whose book No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need was published earlier this year by Knopf Canada and became an instant bestseller. “There have been weeks when we had both Atwood [A Handmaid’s Tale] toward the top of various bestsellers lists in the U.S. and Klein on the nonfiction lists—so it has been an exciting year for us so far,” says Kristin Cochrane, president and publisher of PRH Canada.
Klein’s book is among many successful titles for the company so far this year. Torontonian Shari LaPena’s novel The Couple Next Door, spent much of last year on the bestseller list and sold nearly 150,000 copies. Her new novel, Stranger in the House, is already on the lists. Just as bracing is the news that the publisher had five works of fiction land on the longlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize, including Zoey Leigh Peterson’s Next Year, for Sure (Doubleday Canada), Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square (Doubleday Canada), Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster (Knopf Canada), and Deborah Willis’s The Dark and Other Love Stories (Hamish Hamilton). David Chariandy, for his long-awaited second novel, Brother, published by McClelland & Stewart, also made the list.
Speaking of M&S, Brad Martin, CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, notes: “This year there was some confusion over M&S and our intentions for the imprint. Our intention is to keep it separate as a business division within PRH, and our actions show what we intend to do. When Doug Pepper ran the imprint, we signed Sapiens [by Yuval Noah Harari], and we are still publishing all the authors we did before and after. We hired esteemed editor Jared Bland to run the division last year and it is working out extremely well.” Among the highlights coming next year is a new novel by Michael Ondaatje, Warlight (May 2018).
Like many publishers in Canada, PRH is concerned with issues of diversity and inclusion. “We have worked with our colleagues in the U.K. to come up with an approach to tackling this issue,” says Robert Wheaton, PRH’s COO. The approach covers two areas, staffing and the list. “When it comes to staffing, we talk about hiring diversity, because it is the most obvious and easiest thing to do, but the real challenge is creating an environment that is inclusive and an expression of their ideas and who they are, a place that is authentic in their own terms.”
As for the list—which Cochrane says has “been fairly diverse for years”—the challenge is how to reach, and thus include, a broader audience. “We do tend to publish books for the same socioeconomic or education background,” Cochrane says. “With a Canadian writer of South Asian descent, we don’t necessarily go after the South Asian reader, while with a mystery writer, we tend to only go after the mystery market. That has to change.”
More than half the time, Canadian readers are discovering books online. With the gradual waning of the gatekeepers, this offers a broader access to readers. “The books we publish need to be even more reflective of Canada itself,” Cochrane says. “With each acquisition, we need to ask, ‘What audience is this for? How related are we to them? How can we get into a dialogue with those readers?’ That is, ultimately, the mission of publishing.”
Rocky Mountain Books
After almost 40 years in business, Rocky Mountain Books continues to evolve and sales continue to grow. The company, headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia, is seeing an increase in the number of submissions from outside of its traditional Western Canadian author base. These may be children’s books, works of photography, or travel writing, as well as the company’s cornerstone regional guidebooks on hiking, climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing.
“These types of books for the travel and tourism markets have done very well in Western Canada,” says Don Gorman, publisher. He’s especially encouraged by the success of five new photography books by Paul Zizka and Meghan J. Ward, along with two board books for kids by Jocey Asnong (Rocky Mountain 123s and Rocky Mountain ABCs). A photography book, On the Road with Mike Drew: Collected Photographs and Stories from Central and Southern Alberta, is another strong seller, and Bernadette McDonald’s new book, Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka is picking up momentum.
Gorman mused, “I think that most industry-types in Canada think that we are a small, utilitarian guidebook company that publishes a couple of books a year for a niche audience. The reality is that we publish 20–40 new titles every year and sell our books through a variety of traditional and non-traditional channels,” as well as online.
Looking forward to the fall, Gorman highlighted several titles including Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei (Dec.), a mountaineering book; Natural Reflections by Mike Grandmaison (Dec.), a collection of photographs; and Discovering Animals: English–French–Cree, a First Nations board book. “For spring 2018, we have 17 books planned,” he added. “Many of them are new editions of our bestselling guidebooks, along with West Coast ABCs, new board book by Jocey Asnong; Northern Stone: Canada’s Best Rock Climbs by Brandon Pullan and David Chaundy-Smart; and a new series of guidebooks for families, Family Walks and Hikes, which will start with Vancouver Island in the spring of 2018 and Canadian Rockies, available in 2019.”
Simon & Schuster Canada
Simon & Schuster Canada has a new lead nonfiction title on a topic few might expect to see: the possibility of a Donald Trump-like populist movement emerging in Canada. The book, Could It Happen Here?, is from Canadian pollster Michael Adams. “The book really questions our Canadian exceptionalism,” says Kevin Hanson, president and publisher of S&S Canada. “Adams unsurprisingly concludes that since as many as one-third of Canadians are unionized, they are not likely to blow up the government. You don’t do that when the government takes care of you.”
The nonfiction list also features Chris Turner’s The Patch: The People, Pipelines, and Politics of the Oil Sands, a hard-hitting exposé on the Alberta oil sands, a region that is one of the most important economic and political forces in Canadian life. Former Canadian army sniper Jody Mitic follows up his bestselling memoir, Unflinching, with Everyday Heroes, a collection of first-person accounts from soldiers in the Canadian armed forces. Robert Bateman’s Canada is the publisher’s contribution to the year’s series of books commemorating the 150th anniversary in the form of a deluxe, over-size art book of Canadian landscape paintings.
Leading the company’s homegrown fiction list is the new novel by Giller Prize–winner Will Ferguson, The Shoe on the Roof, which recounts what happens when a psychologist tries to cure a trio of homeless men of the delusion that each is a messiah sent to save the world. For debut novels, the publisher has confidence that Tyrell Johnson’s The Wolves of Winter will attract a broad readership. “It’s a cross between Station Eleven and The Hunger Games, but set in the Yukon after society collapses,” Hanson says. “We think it has real break-out potential.”
For import titles, S&S has had a #1 bestseller in Canada with Hillary Clinton’s memoir What Happened? and another bestseller with The Lying Game, the latest suspense novel by global bestseller Ruth Ware. “These types of hot imports continue to bring us new readers and bolster the bottom line,” Hanson says.
In its 50th-anniversary year, the company is seeing a 20% bump in sales to the U.S., says Spencer Williams, director of sales and marketing. “We have put a lot of energy into developing better relationships with American buyers. That said, we are proud to be Canadian.”
The publisher is anticipating strong sales for Bev Sellars’s Price Paid: The Fight for First Nations Survival. “Her first book, They Called Me Number One, spent the entire year on the British Columbia bestseller list and has sold 30,000 copies,” Williams adds. The company also thinks there is strong potential for Tomson Highways’s From Oral to Written, a survey of indigenous literature from 1980 to 2010 that profiles the work of 112 authors. “Nearly 500 people came out for the launch of the book at the Drum Festival this July.”
The publisher also has a trio of translations from French-Canadian to English: In Search of New Babylon by Dominique Scali, a dark western set in the 1860s; the novel, Zora, a Cruel Tale by Philippe Arseneault, “our first fantasy novel in 50 years,” Williams says; and Anima by Wajdi Mouawad, a thriller told in the voices of more than 50 animals, birds, and insects. By way of explanation for the emphasis on translations, Williams says: “We hired a new French editor named Charles Simard and we are extremely happy to have him join us from Montreal. It is as if he was also meant to be working at Talon.”
University of Regina Press
Publisher Bruce Walsh likes to call the University of Regina Press an “upstart,” or “the little publisher on the prairie.” But those terms undersell what the press is setting out to do. Currently about 10% of its sales are in the U.S., but that’s expected that to increase substantially, according to Walsh. “A big part of our mission is to give voice to people who are often marginalized in our society,” he says. Books with indigenous voices have been popular. Firewater by Harold Johnson, about the destructive impact alcohol has had on indigenous communities, has sold 10,000 copies, and Speaking in Cod Tongues, which looks at Canada’s multicultural culinary heritage, has sold 25,000 copies. “As of the spring, sales for the press overall had increased 53% from the previous year.”
More recently, Walsh says, the press is developing an international list that focuses on forces of “migration and resettlement that are likely to become more urgent in the wake of climate change and political instability.” Among the upcoming releases are Mansoor Mahda’s Memoirs of a Muhindi, on the exile of Ismaili Muslims from East Africa in the 1970s; Being Kurdish in a Hostile World by Ayub Nuri, a memoir of a Canadian-Kurdish journalist who grew up in Iraqi Kurdistan during the Iran-Iraq War; and On Forgiveness and Revenge by Ramin Jahanbegloo, in which a Canadian-Iranian philosopher reflects on his unjust imprisonment.”
Looking forward to the rest of the year, Walsh says he is feeling bullish: “We ended last year with a big surplus and have our fingers crossed for a repeat. Our goal is to increase the list from 20 to 30 books a year. We launched Canada’s first Black Studies list in the spring, so we are branching out in a big way, while also fulfilling our longstanding commitments to publishing indigenous and regional titles, which we have been successfully exporting to audiences far beyond Saskatchewan.”
University of Toronto Press
“We had the best year in nine years,” says Brian MacDonald, UTP’s sales and marketing manager. “The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy by Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber, about the corporatization of universities, has been one of our bestselling titles of all time and sold 50,000 copies.”
MacDonald notes that the press has repackaged 30 titles into the Canada 150 Collection series, many of which focus on divisive issues in Canada’s history and strive to show the breadth of scholarship on these issues. But the press isn’t merely mining its archives. It’s now publishing its first graphic novel. “We think this is something new for scholarly publishing,” MacDonald says. The book, which publishes in November, is called Lissa by Sherine Hamdy and Coleman Nye, with art by Sarula Bao and Caroline Brewer. It is the fictional account of the friendship between an American girl with breast cancer and an Egyptian girl who has a sick father, set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring in Cairo. Two other titles are planned in the series: one on sex tourism in Brazil and another about Muslim friendship.
The publisher has also recently launched an imprint with the Munk Center for Global Studies, whose first title, Making a Global City: How One Toronto School Embraced Diversity by Robert Vipond, just hit bookstores. The publisher’s Insight series, which offers short, accessible books on current affairs topics, is also attracting readers. The latest in that series is Growing a Sustainable City?: The Question of Urban Agriculture by Christina D. Rosan and Hamil Pearsall.
“We do publish a lot of important, niche books that wouldn’t get published by a trade press,” MacDonald says. “Our goal going forward is to reposition university presses to make these books even more accessible to general readers.”