I wrote and posted this piece originally on the classic Book Madam & Associates website but here it is again, since it’s the official opinion of Books on the Radio on the matter:
An Open Letter to Andrew Steeves, publisher of Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists, Gaspereau Press.
Good morning, Mr Steeves!
Congratulations to you, Gaspereau Press and Johanna Skibsrud for the deserving win at the Giller Prize ceremonies last night in glorious downtown Toronto.
Few of us can imagine what you must be feeling right now. Some mixture of dread and elation, perhaps.
I honestly hope that it’s neither because you didn’t just win Canada’s ‘most prestigious literary prize’ last night – while simultaneously throwing the entire book distribution chain into apoplexy – you actually won and shared the win with some very deserving books and writers.
No matter how insistent the cries become from the manifold voices in the book publishing ether to ‘get these books onto the display tables of big box bookstores from coast to coast (and maybe a few of the remaining independents while you’re at it) regardless of what it does to the quality of the book object’ – please ignore them.
While the voices of those imbued with the patience enough to wait, and a sufficient list of books to read in the meantime, may not be quite as loud as some of the others, we are here.
Go back to work today like any other day and embrace the process that you have built for your books and your writers.
Gaspereau Press has a reputation for creating beautifully designed and crafted books full of great writing. The Giller Prize does not change that.
The craft that your shop brings to bookstores, reader’s bookshelves and to the legacy of reading in Canada cannot be replicated.
The readers will be here when the books are ready. I will be very excited to open the package from Gaspereau that contains my copy of the Sentimentalists.
In fact, I think that we can look at this as a victory for all the books in this year’s Giller Prize list because now we can enjoy all the books that made the short list as we await the arrival of our own handmade copy of the winner. Crafted by none other than Gaspereau Press.
That actually sounds like a win for everybody involved.
So take your time with the reprints, but not too much time. Get them to us when they’re ready.
Until then we’ve got a few other books to read.
Fans of the Book.