Johanna Skibsrud has won the Giller prize with her book The Sentimentalists. Her publisher is The Gaspereau Press a quality, small press just down the road from us in Kentville. They can manage only a tiny run. This has unlocked a whole Pandora's box of trouble for the author and for readers who are clamouring to read the book.
Skibsrud bit her lip when Gaspereau co-publishers Andrew Steeves and Gary Dunfield spurned offers from Toronto-based publishers to reprint and distribute The Sentimentalists widely after the Giller jury made it a finalist. Now she openly admits to being “concerned” about the partners’ decision to continue hand-printing her prize-winning first novel at the leisurely rate of 1,000 books a week.
Concerned? I guess. We have to ask ourselves, will another author choose Gaspereau Press if they know their choice of publisher could limit sales down the line if they win an award? I think Gaspereau Press will win only in the short run but not in the long run if they don't allow a partnership to allow the book to be more widely available NOW, when it is wanted. As it is I don't think I will be able to find a copy to give as a gift at Christmas.
There is not a single copy of The Sentimentalists available in any of the Indigo Books & Music stores, company president Joel Silver confirmed. “The Giller lights a match,” he said, “but you still need to feed the fire. … If people aren't reading about it and talking about it, then I think it'll fizzle out faster.”
We may have to get a copy from the British publishers if we want one. We love the Gaspereau Press and hope they resolve this issue. If they do the right thing by the author it can only enhance their reputation. If they don't well ...