The saga of Canada's General Publishing continues. The publishing group laid off more than 15 staff members, including former General president Nelson Doucet and all the staff in the Musson division, after being unable to secure a deal with a buyer. Doucet would not comment on his future plans. Also let go were v-p of sales Wilf Clarke, marketing manager Marc Doucet and publicist Alison Pennels.

General Publishing purchased Musson in 1967 from Hodder & Stoughton. Musson functioned as an agency publisher, which licensed titles from the likes of Simon & Schuster, Golden Books and Hodder & Stoughton for publication under the Musson imprint in Canada. Musson produced its own, indigenous titles until 1984, at which point most titles were transferred to Stoddart Publishing.

Meanwhile, General's chief restructuring officer, David Murray, said that the distribution unit, General Distribution Services, will start winding down business, since it, too, was unable to find a buyer. According to an affidavit by Murray, client publishers will immediately start receiving their books from the dying distributor, and the process will be complete by the end of July.

Murray estimates that the warehouse currently stores 2.8 million books from client publishers and 5.1 million owned by in-house publishers. Client publishers will be charged for picking and packing the returns, which they will be asked to prepay, at a rate of C$20 per hour per person. Murray estimates that GDS can recover C$200,000 based on the 10,000 hours it will take to package the returns. GDS's expenses are currently running at approximately C$500,000 a month. The removal of client publishers' books will be based on the order in which they make the required payments.

The C$20-per-hour fee to repackage the books is GDS's standard handling rate and is included in its distribution agreement with clients. But the fees perturbed publishers, several of which are still owed money. ECW publisher Jack David, who has already managed to extricate his books from GDS's warehouse, said he was "not pleased" about being forced to pay GDS for his books: "Here's a company that owed us C$340,000 as of April 30, none of which we're ever likely to see, and which extorts money from us just so we can get our books out of a warehouse."