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Foreign money and Canadian books

The debate on the role of foreign ownership in Canadian book publishing never seems to go away. Publishing reporter John Barber of The Globe and Mail weighs in today with a long article urging changes in our foreign investment rules to allow foreign publishers to invest in — or buy out — Canadian publishers.

The whole issue of foreign investment in publishing is under review now by Conservative culture minister James Moore.

Barber concedes current rules “helped produce a spectacular literary flowering.” And while allowing that small presses are doing a good job, he laments their lack of financial heft to properly promote their writers.

More Canadian writers are published by the smaller Canadian-owned publishers. But the best sellers usually come from the branch plants of multi national publishers. They have the money to sign — and then promote — the best-known Canadian names. Barber’s argument, shared by some small presses, is that foreign investment in their operations would enable them to better compete with the big branch plants — all to the benefit of both writers and readers.

Facing the digital-only future

Newspapers as well as books are migrating to electronic sales. Montreal’s La Presse, long considered the top daily of French Canada, may be getting ready to phase out its print edition. Its Sunday edition already gone, the paper has assembled a digital team that could move it totally into the digital world.

” … there is a strong possibility that there will no longer be a print edition of a La Presse within three to seven years,’ says the head of the Quebec journalist’s union.

The Montreal daily wouldn’t be the first. Several American papers, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have shut their print editions and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has launched the first all electronic newspaper designed for Apple’s iPad — The Daily.

My own E-Book – Boy in the Picture

So maybe now’s the time to mention that my recent book, The Boy in the Picture, is now available as an eBook from Chapters Indigo, among other online retailers. A bargain at $7.79. Thanks, Dundurn Press, for opening up this wider market for me.

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