I can’t decide whether this is a crazy or a wise decision. The idea that it is an essential move by the publisher is nicely and effectively countered by publisher’s own words. They have to think about the long term position of their company, rather than just one book. on the other hand, there’s a deal to be done and more than likely one of the big publishers will be more than happy to put one of their imprints on the spine!
Then there is the financial cost to Ms. Skibsrud of the lost opportunity. The last Giller winner sold 75,000 copies. At even a dollar or two of royalties a book, this would represent a considerable sum – one which she will never touch if the book doesn’t sell in large quantities. She struggled to pay her way through school while working on the book in her spare time. Shouldn’t she now reap the rewards of her success — some of which would presumably flow back to Gaspereau, who took the chance publishing her book in the first place, even if if they don’t print tens of thousands of copies?
The irony as well is that in recent years there has been grumbling in the Canadian literary community that only books backed by major publishing houses ever win. Well, now one wins from a small press – and this is the result. Has Gaspereau considered the implications for other authors down the road? Do they think the Giller jury will be as well-disposed to small-press books if their publishers take this attitude?
Apparently, the owners of Gaspereau are meeting tomorrow to “review their options”. Maybe if they hear from enough people who are equally distressed at their decision, they will reconsider.