English-language book sales by Canadian authors have fallen by half since 2005 in Canada, a new report published today claims. These books represented only 13% of overall book sales in 2017, compared with 27% in 2005.
"The More Canada Report" was compiled by more than 20 industry representatives drawn from bookselling, publishing, libraries and reading advocacy organizations. It was written by James Lorimer, owner of an eponymous publishing company and publisher of Formac in Halifax; Jeff Miller of Irwin Law; and Philip Cercone of McGill-Queens University Press. Among others contributing to the report was Noah Genner, CEO of BookNet Canada, the non-profit company responsible for tracking Canadian book sales.
The highly anticipated 180-page report focuses on ways to increase the competitiveness of Canadian-authored books in a marketplace increasingly dominated by multinational publishers—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster all have major operations in Canada—and foreign authors.
It points out, for example, that first-year sales for Canadian-authored books published in 2017 by multinational companies dwarfed those published by Canadian-owned publishers, with an average of 2,241 copies sold per book by the multinationals and just 343 copies sold by those produced from Canadian publishers.
On the other hand, 2017 production by Canadian-owned publishers dwarfed that of the multinationals, with Candian-owned publishers producing 2,551 titles by Canadian-authors, compared with 851 by the multinationals. In total, books by Canadian authors represented just 4.6% of the 77,721 new titles published in Canada last year.
The report goes on to offer an extensive list recommendations on how to refocus readers on Canadian authors. These include offering support to booksellers and media to promote Canadian authors, as well as creating more diverse metadata tags to identify Canadian books on online bookselling platforms. One recommendation is to funnel school book sales through independent bookstores, in a scheme similar to one that exists for books Quebec and has been in instrumental supporting that province's bookselling ecosystem.