Saturday, October 1, 2022

Canada’s Book Market Is Totally Divided

Status: 19.10.2021 at 12:13 PM

This time Canada is the guest country of the Frankfurt Book Fair. The division into one English-speaking and one French-speaking market is creating problems for the country’s book industry.

By Peter Muke, ARD Studio New York

In Canada, there is a saying for the country’s book market: “The Two Solitudes” or “Les Deux Solitudes” – depending on where you ask. The meaning is the same: “two solitude”. “The French-language book industry is completely different from the English-language industry,” says Gillian Fidget. As the head of the organizing committee, organizing a joint appearance for Canada as a guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair is not such an easy task. “One thing is the same,” she says. “Both markets face a major competitor: in English-speaking Canada, it’s the United States and in French-speaking Canada, it’s France.”

peter muke

America’s dominance in the English-speaking market

The English-speaking market in particular, which accounts for nearly three quarters of sales, is struggling. Kate Edwards of the Association of Canadian Publishers says that the larger neighborhoods in the South are dominated by bookstores. “Especially for smaller publishers, it’s also difficult to get on the shelves, especially with new authors,” she says. “Bookstores tend to focus more on American or British authors, who have a completely different marketing machine behind them. That’s why our bestseller lists look the same as they do in the United States.”

In the French-speaking market, which mainly includes the province of Quebec, the situation is very different. Competition from French writers and publishers is tough. Still, the market is more dynamic than the English-speaking part, says Arnaud Foulen of the Association of French-Speaking Book Publishers. “For about eight million French-speaking Canadians, 6,000 new titles appear each year. Most of them are in Quebec and in Montreal,” Foulon says. For comparison: in English-speaking provinces with about 30 million residents, there were only 9,000 new releases recently.

There is hardly any overlap between book markets

There is practically no overlap between the two book markets. “There are very few publishers that publish in both languages,” explains Foulon. “If a French-language publisher wants to translate a book, it must find an English-speaking partner. If you want to market a book in another language, such as English, in your country, you must sell the rights. “

Result: Very few new releases are marketed in other national languages. Books are often translated into other languages ​​before going back to Canada.

separate regulation

In recent decades, provinces have also taken very different paths when it comes to legislation. While the book market is relatively free in the English-speaking part and, like in the United States, large chains dominate, Quebec introduced stricter regulations in the 1980s.

“Publishers have to give the same discount to all bookstores—whether they’re big chains, mail order companies, or small bookstores just around the corner,” says Foulon. In addition, schools and libraries must make their new purchases from local, independent bookstores. “As a result, bookstores can survive even in small towns, even if there are not as many readers as in Montreal, for example.”

The book market in Canada splits into two worlds – English and French

Peter Muke, ARD New York, October 18, 2021 3:59 PM

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