A Sticky Situation for 2013 Canada Reads

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Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture
A Sticky Situation for 2013 Canada Reads

From Random House's Hazlitt Magazine and by Ben McNally, a pretty interesting piece on Canada Reads but the trouble that is spells and has spelled for Douglas and McIntrye.

One of the more appalling aspects of publisher Douglas and McIntyre's filing for bankruptcy protection in October was that author Carmen Aguirre is on the declared list of creditors of the firm. The author of Something Fierce, winner of the 2012 Canada Reads, Aguirre is owed in the neighborhood of $60,000 by the company (such is the potential impact of winning Canada Reads) and her prospects for seeing any of that money are extremely dim.

Sixty-thousand is a lot of money. It might seem like peanuts compared to what’s owed the bankers and the printers, but you can bet that kissing it off will cause the author a lot of grief—and out here where we toil, few sins compare with not paying your authors.

Among the titles chosen for the 2013 Canada Reads is Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Indian Horse is an impressive novel, one that our store has been supporting since shortly after it was published. We were surprised by its exclusion from the short lists of the three big fiction prizes; we're pleased to see it finally recognized by Canada Reads.

It is published, however, by Douglas and McIntyre. And it's hard not to conclude that no matter how many copies it sells as a result of being on the list, or how successfully it is defended on the air, that Richard Wagamese may not benefit financially as a result.



Perhaps more dramatic because we can point to specific books and authors, but this is pretty much what all Canadians face when a company goes bankrupt.  Wages owed to employees are last in line at the bankruptcy hearings, and the value their work contributed is siphoned off by the banks first, and then other creditors.  Next to employees are the smaller businesses that have money owing to them for services renedered to the bankrupt client.  

It's a law that unions have lobbied to change for decades to no avail.  About the only tactic that seems to work has been when workers occupy the bankrupt facility and hold whatever physical equity is left in order to negotiate a fairer settlement.

I think in the case of Douglas and MacIntyre, retailers and "Canada Reads" should make the public aware that if they buy a certain book, the proceeds will be going to a bank and nothing to the authors, if that's how the restructuring ends up.



If they can't pay her, then she should get all complete and total rights back to her work, and perhaps she can publish it in e-format for sale. 

It sucks, though.  You'd think the authors would take priority over other creditors.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Ya I hope she gets the money or at least something in compensation. And it is completely unfair that the author keeping the company afloat in the first place -- or giving it some last breaths/glimmers of hope -- is what will be seemingly punished.

And I never really thought of the idea of a bankrupt publisher selling books could spell D-O-O-M (well that might be dramatic). I thought it would be great that Wagamese's novel is the frontrunner and in such high demand, but apparently not?