books out, smelly candles in

by Hugh

I just spoke with someone in the publishing business about the discouraging state of Canadian fiction. Not the writing, but the business side. I’m not sure what has happened in the rest of the world, but: Chapters/Indigo has reduced space for books from 70% to 60%. The rest is candles and calendars and crap of one kind or another. And what they cut was mostly fiction – anything literary, and especially anything new from “unproved” writers, has much less shelf space. There are precious few independent booksellers left in Canada, so as Chapters/Indigo goes, so goes Canadian publishing.

The result is that publishers aren’t taking many new writers. The big presses have kicked out their smaller performers; who are now getting picked up by the mid-range presses, meaning that mid-range presses aren’t taking new young writers any more, and small presses are swamped with manuscripts from both published and unpublished writers…with nowhere to sell their books.

All of which makes me think that something is badly broken in the publishing business. People still want to write; people still want to read. But there’s little room left in the mainstream book business for anything but top sellers. And smelly candles, of course.

The book business needs a shake-up, I think.