Canadian publisher ECW Press announced last week that it will close its Montreal office, effective November 30, as part of its debt-reduction plan. The closure of the Montreal office will coincide with the departure of ECW cofounder Robert Lecker, who has sold his share in the company to his partner, Jack David. Lecker, who is a professor at McGill University, has been running the Montreal office, which has three full-time employees.

David will now oversee all of ECW from the Toronto office. He is currently familiarizing himself with the Montreal projects (less than half of ECW's total list) and admits there may be a delay in publishing those titles.

The roots of ECW's financial problems go back to 2002, when both its Canadian distributor, GDS, and its U.S. distributor, LPC Group, went bankrupt. In January, Stewart House, which had taken over the company's distribution, went out of business. "As a result of losing those revenues," said Lecker, "we had some very substantial cash-flow problems, and both my partner and I incurred significant personal debt in order to honor commitments and move the list forward."

In a press release, the company stated, "As a result of this consolidation, ECW will be able to accelerate payments to suppliers while still releasing 40 new titles in 2004."

The ECW list features Canadian literature in addition to titles on poetry, fiction, sports, travel and pop culture.