Publishers’ rep loses federal funding

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The sales and marketing co-operative representing 47 independent Canadian publishers has lost its federal funding, forcing it to shut down its sales force and lay off most of its staff.

Quill and Quire says the Literary Press Group has confirmed a denial of funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, its largest single revenue source and provider of about a third of its operating budget. Last year, the department provided $235,000  through its Canada Book Fund.

The federal agency gave no explanation for its decision to deny support this year, nor why it chose to sit on the devastating news until now, two months into the fiscal year. Ironically, on the same day it notified the LPG of its decision, it announced an $80,000 Canada Book Fund grant to the Saskatchewan Publishers Group Inc. “to foster a viable Canadian book industry that publishes and markets Canadian-authored books.”

In response to the unexpected shortfall, the 37-year-old LPG plans to dismantle its sales force, with all five field reps being let go on Aug. 31. Most of the remaining head office staff will follow at the end of November.

The sales force currently represents nearly 225 fall titles, which it will continue to promote to booksellers and libraries until the layoffs occur. After that, publishers will have to decide on a new course for national representation.

Funding for the Group’s distribution arm, LitDistCo, has not been affected and its operations will continue as usual.

In a statement on its website, the LPG said:

In a body blow to Canada’s independent literary publishers, on Monday, June 4, 2012, the Literary Press Group (LPG) of Canada received word that the Department of Canadian Heritage (DCH) has ended its financial support of the LPG’s activities for the fiscal year that began on April 1, 2012. As a result, the LPG will be obliged to shut down its sales force, an essential operation that brings hundreds of new Canadian-authored books from 47 Canadian-owned publishers to bookstores and libraries every year. Without the LPG, authors and publishers lose their access to their readers, and Canadian readers lose easy and affordable access to Canada’s literary culture.

The organization is fighting to have the decision reversed.

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