The Publishing Paradigm Shift is No Longer Coming - It's Here

So, another award-winning Canadian genre publisher goes down. On July 15, 2020, Bundoran Press announced that CoVid 19 was the straw that broke the camel’s back for them. They are not buying any more books and will be closing their doors by Oct 30.

Bundoran has a fabulous back catalogue and their books are available at https://www.bundoranpress.ca/ so now is the time to lay your hands on some of their terrific titles while you still have the chance.

Even though all rights will be reverting to Bundoran authors, Canadian genre writers feel this loss profoundly following the recent demise of the majority of Canadian small press genre book publishers. Chiarscuro/ChiZine went out with a shot heard round the publishing world (though they continue to exist with an interim publisher and a small stable of writers/books).  Five Rivers, Bundoran, and Double Dragon (which was apparently sold to a UK company called Fiction4All) have gone out not with a bang, but with a polite and orderly filing out the door. Which leaves us in Canada with no more than a handful of small presses devoted to genre fiction. Edge Publishing continues to survive ongoing controversies and criticisms about response times and author payments. A few survivors seem to be growing and thriving, while others keep hanging on for dear life. Of the pure genre publishers in Canada, Undertow Publications, TycheBrain Lag and Engen Books are regularly putting out new titles. A few literary or specialty publishers like Exile Editions, ECW, Inanna and Guernica/MiroLand accept genres submissions or have published genre books in the past.

This is not to say that genre publishing is dead in Canada. There are probably more good Canadian short fiction markets now than there were in the 90s and 00s; including On Spec, Lackingtons, Augur, Neo-Opsis, Polar Borealis, Pulp Literature, Unnerving, AE Sci-Fi and even some promising new titles like Speculative North.  Check out the much more complete list of Canadian SF markets and other great resources on the SF Canada - website.

The professional publishing scene has not yet started into the devastation scenario I painted a while back on this blog. As a Sunburst judge a few years back, I was impressed to discover how many genre books (almost all with serious literary cred) come in under the genre radar from imprints like Tundra (a young adult imprint from Penguin Random House Canada). And I remain somewhat hopeful that the various imprints of major publishers like Knopf and Harper Collins Canada  will stay tuned to the value of amazing indigenous writers like Eden Robinson and Tanya Tagaq, and keep watching the speculative shores for breakout authors like Emily St. John Mandel.

But there's definitely a battlefield atmosphere, and that battlefield is already littered with casualties. Among the facts that cannot be ignored:

Small press book publishers are going down like dominoes. There will be survivors – but they will be exceptions rather than the rule. Many of the small publishers that ultimately survive will be operating on new or hybrid models – with e-books, short run special editions and POD books as the main products sold.

Professional publishers will start to shrink down, with only proven best-seller authors and next-big thing authors propping up the tents. Many secondary imprints will vanish over the next year.  

Indie & self-publishing will indeed continue to thrive – but the market will grow and splinter dramatically and it will get harder and harder to stand out from the crowd. Even established writers with existing fan followings will be forced to self-publish and self-market. 

The publishing paradigm shift we have been predicting and seeing evidence of over the past few years is finally well and truly be upon us. By Christmas 2021, it may have settled enough to allow for some predictability. The books that do the best will be those that help define the new model rather than just being a part of it.

Now we all need to go to our corners and be prepared to come out fighting for our place in the sun.

Get the scoop on my new novel, The Human Template at https://dalelsproule.com.



Comments

  1. As the managing editor for Dark Dragon, it is definitely still in operation, though because of Covid19, we've slowed down as all the shows we go to have closed for the year. In fact, we are accepting submissions for novels and for an anthology we're putting togwther.

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    1. Someone suggested I was probably thinking of Double Dragon Press. Whatever the reason, my apologies, Karen. Happy to set folks straight.

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  2. Thanks for this Dale -- great overview of a grim situation.

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