“Many people in the Canadian publishing industry look at recent events and proclaim, “the sky is falling,” said Steven Beattie, Reviews Editor at Quill & Quire, during his onstage conversation with Ruth Panofsky. “Your new book reminds us that we’ve all been here before,” Beattie continued, “at least once.” A knowing chuckle reverberated through the audience gathered in Ryerson University’s Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre on Monday, March 19th for the launch of Panofsky’s study The Literary History of MacMillan Canada.
The parallels between the sale of MacMillan of Canada to Gage Publishing thirty years ago and the last month’s acquisition of McClelland & Stewart by Random House inspired a lively conversation amongst the book historians and publishing veterans in attendance. Douglas Gibson, esteemed editor and former publisher at M&S, for instance, talked about how, in his experience, the greatest challenge to the nationalist dream was not foreign ownership so much as lack of sales for Canadian titles.
Panofsky observed that one of the reasons she was motivated to chronicle the trials and tribulations of MacMillan Canada, as opposed to those of another publishing house, is that all of the key documents can be found in the archives at McMaster University. Her new book, The Literary History of MacMillan Canada, makes this telling chapter of our nation’s publishing history accessible to a wider audience.
For more on the book launch, check out the MLC Research Centre’s blog post.