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'Devastating' cuts to Literary Press Group: Very bad news for employees and publishers

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The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou

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This week, the Department of Canadian Heritage cut funding to The Literary Press Group (LPG), an organization which represents 47 small Canadian publishers.

The money represented one-third of the group's revenue.

In a press release, released on June 6, the LPG called the cuts "a body blow to Canada's independent literary publishers."

One of the major services LPG provides to its member publishers is a sales team to represent their titles in the Canadian market. Currently LPG is responsible for about 225 books.

While the LPG says it is committed to selling publishers' books for fall 2012, all of its sales representatives will be laid off on Aug. 31, and most of its head office staff on Nov. 30. Organization chair Karen Green calls the news "sudden" and "devastating" for employees.

LPG executive director Jack Illingworth called the cut "seriously misguided."

This news comes two months into LPG's fiscal year. Illingworth condemns the timing. "If we had received this news in January or February of this year ... we could have made the transition in an orderly way with much less harm to our association, our members, or their authors."

Illingworth says LitDistCo, which distributes books for members of the LPG and other publishers, will continue services uninterrupted.

Twitter is unhappy about the news.

Jacques Filippi, blogger and LPG sales rep, accuses the Canadian government of "conducting its own bookburning."

Angie Abdou, author of The Bone Cage, which received a whole bunch of good reviews, credited LPG with her novel's publication, writing, "I tried the Bone Cage w big publishers & agents: "Too Canadian, Too sporty." W/out @lpg_canada it wouldn't exist." The Bone Cage was published by NeWest Press, a member of LPG.

The UBC Bookstore also had sympathetic words, and Arsenal Pulp Press, which LPG represents, called the cuts "egregious."

The Department of Canadian Heritage does not have a press release posted on its site.

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