Week 8 Main Post: A Small But Significant Publishing House

One of the sites we stopped at on our walk through downtown Toronto was the Coach House Books. It was called Coach House Press at first in 1965. Coach House is a small Candian publishing company that has printed its fair share of books spanning various genres.

I’ve never heard of the publishing house prior to the walk and I’m kind of ashamed to say that, seeing as I aspire to work in the industry.

Nevertheless, it is discouraging to hear about small publishing houses not doing well. Either they’re quickly going under, closing down completely, or barely making ends meet.

Michael Ondaatje who published with Coach House has said:

The thing about small presses is they always die young – that’s the tradition.”

Aside from the Canadian government cutting budget on all things arts, other big business moguls make it tough for smaller companies to stay afloat.

Even John Lorinc, an editor for an anthology published by the imprint had this to say:

There really are not a lot of houses like that around any more – they either got run over or sort of soaked up by the American houses.

One might assume that because Coach House is based in downtown Toronto that they are doing fairly well. After all, there are parts in Toronto where individuals and businesses are wealthy or well off. But Coach House Press has had a history of hardships.

For one, they don’t have the best location despite being downtown. The building doesn’t tower over others. In fact, Coach House seems to be flanked by larger, more prominent structures. It’s not very easy to spot either. Although the Coach House is near the University of Toronto Campus, it’s literally in an alleyway.

Unsurprisingly, they’ve had their ups and downs financially with budget cuts and debt, which would hurt any company, much less a small printing press.

And now with the electronic, digital age revolutionizing the way readers read, the publishing imprint will face a whole new set of challenges.

(Source: The Globe and Mail)


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