Coteau Books enters into bankruptcy protection, closes doors after 45 years

Coteau Books, which published hundreds of titles over four-and-a-half decades is closing its doors and entered bankruptcy protection. 

Closure leaves a hole in Saskatchewan's publishing landscape: former board president

Notices posted on Coteau Books' front door indicate the company is going under. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Coteau Books, which published hundreds of titles over four-and-a-half decades from its Regina office, is closing its doors and has entered bankruptcy protection. 

The move was announced in a news release published on Friday. The release said margins became slim, profits became tight and attracting staff at lower salaries was challenging.

Former Coteau Books board president Joanne Skidmore said the decision to close will leave a large hole in Saskatchewan's publishing landscape because there aren't many people doing it in the province. 

"Authors will have one less place to go to say 'Will you take my work, will you send it out to the world.' It's one fewer place where schools will be able to call and say 'We want this book, or that book for part of our curriculum,'" Skidmore told CBC Radio. 

"We have been publishing Indigenous authors for years and we will no longer be able to do that and get new voices out. Especially for emerging writers, they will have one less place to go to see if their work will be published."

Industry shifts

Skidmore said she's not sure how the gap will be filled, and speculated perhaps a revolution will come about in the publishing industry that replaces the void left by Coteau Books' closure. 

She said the publishing industry has changed since Coteau's inception and it tried to keep up, but things like the gradual shift to people using e-books, printing changes and having fewer people who review books for media dramatically impacted the company.

She said Coteau Books was founded by four authors, sitting around their kitchen table who realized they had challenges getting work published by the "Toronto-centric" industry.

The company has since gone on to publish works by authors who garnered Governor General's awards and numerous Saskatchewan Book Awards, and writers who have brought national recognition to Saskatchewan's writing scene.

That's the legacy that Skidmore hopes lives on. 

"It made Saskatchewan a place where writers were so proud to be from here and to be able to publish here," Skidmore said. 

"I hope that the legacy will be that those good books and those good writers will live in people's hearts as well as in libraries and digital collections."

With files from Saskatchewan Afternoon


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