Many in the book business were distressed last fall when it was abruptly announced that Douglas & McIntyre (D&M), one of the finest indie publishers in Canada, had announced it was seeking protection from creditors and filing for bankruptcy. Making matters worse, when the list of their creditors was published, the names of many authors and publishing partners were included, a sad sign that the pain and financial loss was going to run deep and wide in the Canadian book community, bleeding in to the U.S., too.
Nonetheless, people looking for a bright side were hoping that the assets of the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company would somehow find their way more or less intact in to the hands of another publisher, and that the books they’d published might somehow stay in print without interruption, giving the authors a shot at making up some of their loss. But there was no certainty of this. What’s more, there were three separate companies involved–New Society Publishers, Greystone Books, and D&M. It was possible that the assets of one or more of the imprints might be bought and carried on, while one or more of the others could fall by the wayside. Early on, it was revealed that New Society would be sold back to its founders. In the months that followed, while many stalwart employees of the full company lost their jobs, the assets went in to receivership under supervision by provincial courts, and it became very quiet, at least looking at it from the outside.
Last week, the dam began to break when it was announced that Greystone Books was being bought by Heritage House of Victoria, B.C. This pleased me because I’m friendly with Greystone’s publisher, Rob Sanders, who will continue with the company under the new Heritage House arrangement. That left only D&M still awaiting a new home. Today, that was resolved too, with the welcome news that B.C.’s Harbour Publishing is buying D&M. I assume this will include backlist and current books, as well as potentially books D&M had signed up but not yet published. The sale pleases me too, because I’m friendly with at least one author who had signed with D&M last year, and now has a chance to continue with the new entity.
Considering the bleak prospects, and not forgetting that much pain and loss has already been felt, this is about as good an outcome as could have been hoped for. I wish everyone involved only the very best going forward.