The publishing world is in the midst of a major shakeup, with e-books taking an increasing share of the market and two of the world’s largest publishers — Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC — joining forces.
The merger of Bertelsmann’s Random House and Pearson’s Penguin Books creates the world's largest publisher of consumer books, with approximately one-quarter of the international market.
In Canada, the merger announcement followed news of Vancouver-based Douglas & McIntyre filing for bankruptcy protection.
Publishers are struggling with a downturn in physical book sales as well as pricing issues surrounding e-books, for which demand is surging. However, they also sell for less than traditional books.
For writers, the changes seem to indicate fewer traditional publishers who are willing to consider their work. Though small presses and a few stalwarts still survive in Canada, each selects only a handful of books every year.
At the same time, there are an increasing number of e-publishing alternatives, from online retail giant Amazon to Canadian website Wattpad. However, they don’t offer the same support as traditional publishers: for instance, writers may not be paid for their work or might be responsible for their own marketing.
As the Canadian publishing community gathered in Toronto to celebrate a literary success — the awarding of the 2012 Giller Prize to Calgary’s Will Ferguson — Deana Sumanac speaks to its writers and editors about the future of the industry.