Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And The Small Press Takes the Big Prize. . .

Congratulations to Johanna Skibsrud and Gaspereau Press - her novel The Sentimentalists has just won the Giller Prize, Canada's largest literary prize.  

But if you've been following the story, it's really tough to buy a physical copy of the book in any store. The publisher prides itself on printing and producing all of their books themselves and they just can't speed up production enough to meet the huge demand.  You can see how they do it in these videos posted on their blog here. Whether this will drive massive sales to the e-book version, or readers will just be patient, remains to be seen.  I certainly want to read it - but only as a physical book. Are Gaspereau to be applauded for sticking to their mission and the quality of their books, or are they just being stubborn and unfair to their author?  The debate continues. Personally, while I do feel fbad or the author (although she has just picked up $50,000 which should keep her going for a while), I do think that Gaspereau's decision is a gutsy one and reminds us in this era of instant gratification and consumerism that some things are worth waiting for. After all, I still have my unread copy of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall still on the bedside table.  Reading isn't just about getting your hands on the latest thing and gobbling it up quickly just to look cool at cocktail parties.  I can wait for a physical copy of The Sentimentalists and at least know that there will be an extra aesthetic thrill to reading a beautifully produced book.  Having said that, I do feel badly for the booksellers - the Giller Prize drives people into the stores and results in a lot of sales right through the Christmas season, and they must feel so frustrated not being able to display a healthy stock of the book. Go to your local indie and place a special order for the book, knowing it may take a while.  You can buy something else while you're waiting.

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