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Book publishing

Publishing industry calls for increased support

Nova Scotia Books Start Here campaign calls on province to boost funding

4 min read
caption Flipping through "Hand Drawn Halifax" (Formac Publishing Company Limited, 2015) by Emma FitzGerald. Photo: Rachael Kelly
Rachael Kelly
Flipping through "Hand Drawn Halifax" (Formac Publishing Company Limited, 2015) by Emma FitzGerald. Photo: Rachael Kelly
caption Flipping through “Hand Drawn Halifax” by Emma FitzGerald.
Rachael Kelly

Pulling out a white sheet of paper, Sheree Fitch reads a letter from the parents of a 10-year-old boy. He was inspired to write his own novel by the “wacky purple world” of Mabel Murple, the classic children’s book Fitch wrote in 1995.

“That’s why we need to keep publishers around,” Fitch said to the audience gathered for the Nova Scotia Books Start Here campaign launch Thursday night at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. “If not, I wonder how many stories we’ll never get to hear.”

Books Start Here

The Nova Scotia Books Start Here campaign was started by the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association, the organization behind Atlantic Books Today, the Best Atlantic-Published Book Award and the Atlantic Summer Reading Guide.

According to the campaign website, it wants the provincial government to “sustain and grow” Nova Scotia’s publishing industry by:

  1. Adopting a creative industry funding approach similar to that in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia
  2. Creating a provincial arts council
  3. Doubling the size of the publishing industry over the next five years
  4. Better supporting the people in the industry, such as writers, editors, illustrators and designers

“Telling our stories is this need that we have, and I don’t know how any vibrant, prosperous, flourishing community can happen unless we always have a space for those stories to be told,” said Fitch.

At the meet and greet, local authors such as Frank Macdonald, Lesley Crewe and Janice Landry highlighted the importance of publishing for the community and local economy.

“Increasing financial support will allow ourselves to tell stories about ourselves,” said Macdonald, whose latest book Tinker and Blue was published by the Cape Breton University Press in 2014.

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Not another film tax credit debacle

Last year, the Canada Council for the Arts invested $24.3 million into Canadian writing and publishing programs. Other governmental support came from the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Book Fund.

Most of that money goes towards the larger publishing markets in Ontario and Québec.

Andrew Steeves, co-owner of Gaspereau Press in Kentville, says to balance things out, Nova Scotian publishers need more support from the provincial government.

This support would take many different forms: 

[media-credit name=” Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association” align=”alignright” width=”386″]infographic Ld edit verBSH-page-001[/media-credit]

  • A cultural component, where the province guarantees publishing books of “important cultural value”
  • A payroll rebate or tax credit to help grow businesses and offer more jobs
  • Financial support for exporting and marketing

Steeves said Nova Scotia Business Inc. is currently in charge of creating programs to support book publishers. According to Steeves, meetings and talks have been “met with dismissiveness.” 

In its 2015-16 budget, the government of Nova Scotia announced that as of April 1, 2016, it plans to invest $70 million in the province’s “cultural economy,” with $6 million going towards Nova Scotia’s film, animation, music and publishing industries.

But for Fitch, the success of the publishing industry can’t be measured on a spreadsheet.

“There’s this 10-year-old boy somewhere in rural Nova Scotia who is writing a novel… what he’s done is find his voice, his faith in his voice,” she says. “How do you put a price on that?”

Authors and publishers speak

Nova Scotia authors, illustrators and publishers answer: Why does the publishing industry in Nova Scotia need the government’s support?

Video Report: Local publishers call for more government support

by Emma Jones 

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    Margaret Olscamp

    I prefer the idea of each responsible, law-abiding person receiving a guaranteed basic income. That way, the artists, writers, musicians, etc. are able to feed and shelter themselves while doing their work
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