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By Scott MacDonald
November 15, 2010
11:13 PM

Filed under News

Gaspereau publisher explains partnership with D&M

As Q&Q reported earlier today, Gaspereau Press has sold trade paperback rights to Johanna Skibsrud’s Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning novel The Sentimentalists to Douglas & McIntyre, presumably dampening some of the criticisms levelled at the small Kentville, Nova Scotia–based press over the past week. According to a statement sent out by D&M, the trade paperback edition will be ready to ship to retailers across the country on Nov. 19.

The deal was negotiated last Wednesday, the day after the prize ceremony. Gaspereau co-publisher Andrew Steeves says he never considered teaming up with any company other than D&M. “There was no bidding, no competition for this. [D&M publisher] Scott McIntyre and I just talked it over and away we went,” says Steeves, adding that the deal was finalized on Friday, when Skibsrud and her agent, Tracy Bohan, gave it their seal of approval. As part of the deal, D&M will handle all publicity henceforth, as well as all public appearances by Skibsrud.

Since the deal was announced this morning, orders have been pouring in to D&M from across the country. According to marketing director Emiko Morita, the planned print run of 20,000 copies quickly escalated to 30,000 due to demand, then to 40,000, and later to 70,000.

“Much of this has gone ahead based on mutual trust and respect,” says Steeves. “I hope to see more of this kind of thing in the industry in the future, and less bringing out the knives whenever it looks like there’s an opportunity to make money.”

According to Steeves, the Vancouver-based D&M was chosen from a long list of suitors due mostly to its simpatico publishing ethos. “It’s a Canadian-owned company, an employee-owned company,” he says. “These are the things that I’m all about.” He acknowledges, too, that there was some appeal in partnering with another firm that “doesn’t sit at the centre of the publishing universe” in Toronto.

As part of the sub-licensing agreement with D&M, the new edition will not bear the Gaspereau logo. “These will not be Gaspereau Press books. That was really important to us,” says Steeves. “If a book says ‘Gaspereau Press’ on the spine, it’s gotta come from our shop.” The book will, however, feature the same editing work and the same typesetting. A redesigned cover, by D&M art director Peter Cocking, was unveiled on Monday.

When asked if he is afraid of letting down Gaspereau partisans, who championed the company’s right to release the now much in-demand title at their own slow-and-steady pace, Steeves doesn’t miss a beat. “We have stuck to our guns,” he says. “We’ve picked partners that fit our philosophy, [who do] creative and original works. The most important principle here is to serve the text and to serve the author, and that’s what we’ve done. [D&M] is going to take good care of Johanna and get a quality edition out there. That’s all that matters.”

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