A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Monday, November 24, 2014

Help Onca Publish Its First Work

image

Onça is a brave new publisher of speculative fiction with a passion for the printed book. Based in BC, Onça Publishing was founded by Shed Simas, a former Master of Publishing student of mine who has worked for several BC presses, doing editing, production, design and marketing. Now he’s launched his own publishing house and is doing a crowdfunding campaign to get his first title on the printing press.

As a lover of speculative fiction—science fiction, fantasy, dystopian—and literary fiction, the first book, and focus of the campaign, is a limited edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with original art from comic artist/illustrator Asher J. Klassen, and painter Marissa Brown.

image

Help Shed raise $11,000 to print the project:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/onca-classics-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde

More at OncaPublishing.com

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Review: Will Starling by Ian Weir

image
Sweeney Todd meets Frankenstein in this romp through the underbelly of London, 1816, when grave-robbers are digging up bodies and selling them on the sly to anatomists and surgeons eager to understand to inner workings of the body and that fine line between the living and the dead.

Will Starling by Ian Weir opens with a macabre scene. The great, and godlike, Dionysus Atherton stands in a public square waiting for the hangman to do his business. “Dionysus Atherton consulted his timepiece, and made a note: the subject dropped at one minute past eight ... All movement finally ceased at 8:48, and death was pronounced at two minutes past nine.” Such are the interests of surgeons, or rather this surgeon in particular who is keen on chasing life to its outer reaches in hopes that science can pull back the subject from death’s icy grip. Once they cut down the body, can Dionysus Atherton secretly bring it back to life?

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley hasn’t yet written Frankenstein but resurrection is in the air.

Atherton, although a colourful figure, is not the protagonist, we leave that role to Will Starling, who works for a rival surgeon and is endowed with the gift of gab. What follows is “the reckoning of WM. Starling, Esq., a Foundling, concerning Monstrous Crimes and Infernal Aspirations, with Perpetrators Named and Shrouded Infamies disclosed to Light of Day, as set down by his Own Hand in this year 1816.”

Author Ian Weir, like in his debut novel, the acclaimed Daniel O’Thunder, deftly crafts a historical tale of twists and turns, with some pot boiler elements, and huge literary merit. This is a fun read for anyone who loves a good story, plus there’s some great slang and a few useful etymology points you can use at upcoming holiday parties.

Will Starling’s narrative reminds me a bit of Sherlock’s Dr. Watson, but Will is much more gossipy, into the ladies and not above boasting about himself and roasting his friends and family.

Published by Goose Lane Editions, Will Starling should be easy to find on all the “Must Read” tables in bookstores.

If you liked Cataract City by Craig Davidson, The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon or The Harem Midwife and The Midwife of Venice, then you’ll like this book too, especially since all these authors have lovingly provided jacket cover quotes. “Crackerjack novel ... no one else in Canada today writes like Ian Weir ... his characters are as engaging as the Artful Dodger or Fagin or Martin Chuzzlewit.”

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The End of an Era? Big Publishers Pulling out of Canada

image
CC-License Photo by Markus Spiske / www.temporausch.com

A couple of midweek shockers in the Canadian publishing world. The first is that David Kent is leaving HarperCollins Canada and the second is that Simon Schuster’s Canadian publishing program is in question amid key layoffs.

The Big 6 in book publishing are:
1. Hachette Book Group, leading US trade publisher currently embroiled in a dispute with Amazon. Imprints are Grand Central Publishing and Little Brown and Company, among many others.
2. HarperCollins, has a publishing group in Canada, is a subsidiary of News Corporation, and includes imprints like Harper Perennial and William Morrow, among many others.
3. Macmillan, is a conglomerate of several leading publishing imprints like Farrar Straus and Giroux, St Martin’s Press, Tor Books, and WH Freeman, among many others.
4. Penguin Group, with operations in Canada, merged with Random House, and includes imprints like GP Putnam’s Sons, Plume, Prentice Hall Press, Puffin Books and many others.
5. Random House, now including Penguin, is owned by Bertelsmann, has operations in Canada, and includes publishing groups like Crown Publishing, Knopf Doubleday and Random House Children’s Books, plus many others.
6. Simon & Schuster, the publishing operation of CBS Corporation, also has operations in Canada, and includes imprints like Pocket and Scribner, among many others.

So what’s going down in the Canadian market? Is there a Harper Collins + S&S merger to come, like we saw with the Random Penguins? Or are the US operations taking over control of the Canadian publishing groups in order to find economies of scale?

If the Big Six are seeing 1/3 of revenues coming from digital and “big data” and sales analytics are on the rise, then it seems plausible to me that the Canadian operations will wind down in order to maximize revenue (and reporting) for the North American market through the US headquarters. Any one in a betting mood? Toronto friends, what’s the word on the street?