Monday, January 07, 2008

Raincoast Gives Up On Canadian Publishing

Raincoast announced today that it was abandoning its domestic publishing operations which it set up in 1995. According to management the operations have remained unprofitable. The operation has published between 20-30 titles per year and will finish this year with 15.

Raincoast is the Canadian partner of Bloomsbury and has published and distributed the Harry Potter series. It is on the back of the success of these titles that the company has built their distribution business into the "preeminent distributor in Canada" (Globe&Mail).
As a result, yesterday's announcement should be seen as a
back-to-the-basics move, and a return to Raincoast's core competency, as a distributor that represents an estimated 50 domestic and foreign-owned publishers, including Bloomsbury U.K., Bloomsbury U.S., Chronicle Books, Lonely Planet, Grove Atlantic and Harcourt/Houghton Mifflin.
Whether this will have a material impact on Canadian publishing is doubtful although some commentators will be all doom and gloom. The domestic Canadian publishing industry is a strange beast with significant amounts of government money distributed to small publishers on the basis of maintaining cultural heritage who wouldn't survive commercially without the funding. In fairness, this active nurturing does produce some great Canadian titles but no doubt most are less than commercially viable.

More ominously the article also contains a veiled suggestion that Raincoast may be planning to rightsize some of their distribution clients as well. More news on that "in the next several weeks".

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