Monday, December 31, 2007

The Anti-Cherry: An Inimitable Look at our Sport

Roy MacGregor in this morn's Globe and Mail writes about Lorna Jackson's Cold-cocked: On Hockey. Not in the book sections, boys and girls, but on page A2 of our national paper. As if this book might actually be newsworthy.

It's too long to type in, and the Globe has pulled its Globe Insider Pay-per-View trick, but for those of you who have access it can be found here:

For those of you who don't, here a sampling of what Roy says of Lorna and her book:


"The anti-Cherry is alive and well and living on the west Coast. She is a shepherd who names her sheep after hockey players ... And she knows her hockey. ... {Cold-cocked} may be the most unusual book ever written on the game ... a book that stretches from medieval literature ... to pop culture. "

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jackson, Hockey, & the holidays

I've been taking a bit of time off this past week, but thought I'd check in on a few things before heading off to the show this afternoon: No Country For Old Men, pairing perhaps my favourite directors in the Coen Bros. with one of my favourite novelists, Cormac McCarthy. All indications are it will be fabulous. One of the things I checked in on was Lorna Jackson's blog, Cold-cocked, where I discovered a few recent posts. I've pasted in the most recent below, though another excellent post can be found here:


Here's her post from yesterday. And, incidentally, Lorna will be nationwide on Sounds Like Canada with Shelagh Rogers January 9th.

The winter solstice brings back the light, sure, and not a moment too soon. It also brings lots of salt and butter and crabbiness and, phew, World Junior Hockey from far away lands.

Yesterday against the Czechs and this morning versus Slovakia—the wee nation that has already given us Hossas, two magic Marians, a pre-concussion Richard Zednik—the Canadians were snoozy and robotic. Great (fascistic) coaching is one thing, and “yay, we win again!” but must our junior tourny teams all play the same way and look like table hockey on big ice? Positionally sound, okay, but also predictable and machine-steady. Blame the salt and butter, but I nodded off—this was before 8 o’clock in BC, home of Kyle Turris—during the first two periods.

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht teaches the aesthetics of sport at Stanford and is the author of the neat little book, In Praise of Athletic Beauty. He's an egghead, sure, but Gumbrecht talks about how the greatest pleasure in sport (or in art), why we watch and cheer, is when the unexpected happens. Seems kinda duh put that way, but I like how it explains that faster heartbeat and instant call to attention when a mistake happens on ice, or a spasm of uncontrolled creativity. This morning, Drew Doughty (great name for a Canadian, or in the case of westcoasters, Self-Doughty) decided to spinorama in the neutral zone when we all thought (cause we know the game's usual rhythms and patterns) he was going to retreat and regroup. He’s long practised that move and apparently had been told by coaches to tone down such hotdoggery for this tournament, to take fewer chances. Even before the move led to the Turris goal, it was thrilling to see the game stop in its tracks and to watch imagination and spark—things we value in all teenagers—squeeze the game off those tracks and send it bumping and grinding toward the net.

So far, things seem controlled and interesting and maybe we’ve moved beyond this as a nation (since the Super Series last year and the ’72 series before it) but: please. I don’t want to see the Canadians headshot the other team’s best forward so he can’t play, possibly ever again.

And speaking of spinoramas: anyone remotely interested in Canadian sports writing should be sad that John Burns has announced he will soon be leaving the Georgia Straight. Over the last ten years, Burnsie has always let me review the sports books I wanted to, has always given sports writing a place to be considered and criticized as legitimate cultural commentary and as literature. During the writing of Cold-cocked: On Hockey (and also my forthcoming book, Flirt: The Interviews), he listened, cared, encouraged and let me read and review many of the books that informed my take on hockey and how we feel, read and write the game. Let’s hope he’s not feeling too Self-Doughty and knows that extreme change (aka “the old spinorama”) is truly the only way to become better and more.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Off for the holidays. Going to try and take a week more-or-less off here at maison Biblioasis, so there's unlikely to be any additional posts until the new year. Best wishes to all!

Amazon, continued...

The last amazon post I made -- see below -- got picked up by a Pete Cattlin on a blog called Optimizing Amazon. It can be found here:


We've started a bit of a discussion about amazon and various issues and practices which may be of interest to some of you. I've already learned a fair bit from the exchange. Some of you other publishers, in particular, might have other thoughts about all things amazon, and it would be great to have you air them. It's not often you get the ear of someone associated with the company who's willing to discuss things with you in a knowledgeable, reasonable fashion, though Pete seems happy to do so. There's also some other good information regarding bibliographic data and other issues, so the site itself might be worth a gander.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why I Still Loathe Amazon

I received a Google Alert this morning, that I thought I'd pass along. It's taken from a customer's blog, a bibliophile from Houston, Texas. It provides further evidence of what I was complaining about regarding amazon practices in a long post a month or so ago.

The book in question, Eric Ormsby's Time's Covenant, is, of course, still in print, and still readily available through our distributor, and to amazon, if I understand things correctly, through Baker & Taylor, just as it always has been. Baker & Taylor continues to order our books. Yet amazon has sent an email to a customer, once again, saying that the book is not available.

The general rule of thumb about these things is that for every instance you hear about, another 20 or so are not mentioned in any public way. This year, I've been told of at least a half dozen separate occasions where amazon -- or -- has canceled existing orders for our books when the books are available. I also know of weeks-on-end where the books have been listed as unavailable, where it wasn't even possible to PLACE an order. How much, in the end, has this cost our press? How much other small presses?

Amazon has done a wonderful job of promoting themselves as being the one-stop place for books. If it's available, they'll get it for you. But that's simply not true. But the fact that they send these notices to their customers which can only serve to dissuade them from looking for it elsewhere -- I mean, if can't get it, who can? -- is a seriously problem, and something that needs to be addressed.

As of April, 2008, Biblioasis titles will be represented and distributed by Northwestern University Press in the US and abroad: perhaps this will solve much of this problem. But it is, still, incredibly frustrating. At our level of operation, every sale matters: thankfully this reader wanted the book badly enough to have looked elsewhere. But it would be foolish enough to assume most would show the same level of tenacity.

The post...

Two weeks ago I placed an order for three books, among them a volume I wished to give as a Christmas present, with A prompt e-mail informed me my books would not be delivered until late in January, so I cancelled the book intended as a gift and bought it from a chain bookstore in Houston. On Wednesday I received another e-mail from saying one of the books I had ordered for myself, Time's Covenant: Selected Poems, by Eric Ormsby, could not be shipped:

“Though we had expected to be able to send this item to you, we've since found that it is not available from any of our sources at this time. We realize this is disappointing news to hear, and we apologize for the inconvenience we have caused you.”

“Disappointing,” yes, but also baffling. Time’s Covenant was published in October 2006 by Biblioasis, of Windsor, Ontario, Canada – that is, south of Detroit, in a much-touted era of free trade and globalization. It remains in print. Ormsby is an American and long-time resident of Canada now living in London. He is also among our finest living poets. I reordered his book from (the Canadian cousin), and they expect to ship it between Jan. 16 and Jan. 30.

Monday, December 17, 2007

WANTED: Web Editor

We here at Biblioasis are looking for a web editor to help run both the press and magazine (CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries) websites. Especially the latter. We've tried to maintain it, but, hey, we're simple book people, and it's time we face up to that fact. Luddites-R-Us. There was a time we were proud of of our luddite-status, flaunted it even, but it's beginning to be a major inconvenience.

If anyone is interested, please contact us at We've scraped away the remaining change from the bottom of our kids' Value Village piggy bank, so it's even a paying gig of sorts. But more importantly, for all of you suicidal death-wish types who still entertain hopes of working in the glamorous world of Canadian publishing (cough, hack), think how it will look on your resume!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rebecca Rosenblum & the Journey Prize Anthology

Scanning the online version of the Globe this morning, I found a review of the current Journey Prize Anthology. Biblioasis has three authors in the current collection: Patricia Robertson, for a story from her current The Goldfish Dancer; a story by Grant Buday, shortlisted for the Metcalf-Rooke Award for his fine novel Dragonflies (and recently signed onto the good ship Biblioasis), and Metcalf-Rooke Award winner Rebecca Rosenblum.

Rebecca's story comes in for some praiseworthy treatment from the Globe's reviewer. See below. Congrats, Rebecca.

It's unclear whether the main character of Rebecca Rosenblum's postmodern Cinderella aspires to escape her chilly existence, but until a party in an air-conditioned condo, Emmy holds herself so far apart from others that she is physically as well as figuratively cold. Rosenblum employs the language and rhythm of fairy tales to lend the Chilly Girl its gravity, and the choice is apt; the exchange of innocence for experience is one of the oldest stories. But unlike the other stories in this collection, Emmy's gain isn't wisdom tinged with loss, but wisdom rife with possibility. This is only one of the ways that Rosenblum subverts expectation in this diamond-sharp story. Besides making the cut for the anthology, Chilly Girl is also her first published story. Wow!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Back ...etc.

It's been a long week, trying to catch up on the backlog caused by my Toronto trip for Sales Conference. Nose to the grindstone sorts of things: author touring and promotion grants and reports, finalizing two books for the printer, launches, promotion, correspondence, readying contracts, and a host of small but important administrative tasks which make for less-than-stellar reading.

Pleased to see Stephen Henighan's speech about translation posted early last week getting so much good attention. It's a fine speech, and the various links to it seems to have spread word about Biblioasis' International Translation Series -- and Kapuscinski's I Wrote Stone -- much better than I would have hoped. It's been our hope to spread word into the States with this, as we know there will be more interest in our series there than there will be in Canada -- though why this is the case I'm still not at all sure -- and this seems to be happening. There's even been some online buzz in the last week or so concerning Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades, the second official title in the series, due out in February. Oh, the wonders of the web...

I Wrote Stone is close to becoming our best-selling poetry title, due in part to the several hundred U.S. wholesaler orders we've received over the last month. The good thing about these is that most -- if not all -- will not be returned. It's also picked up online, and as of yesterday was sitting close to a 1000 overall on, and was listed as 3rd overall -- after Dante and Neruda -- under continental European poetry. Not a bad start.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Big Smoke

In Toronto, where we're finishing up with the LPG Sales Conference and SGM. Four days in the big city and nary a minute to go explore. I'd hoped to be able to manage a quick tour of a few more galleries, or hit a couple of bookstores -- check out Ben McNally's and see how many Biblioasis titles are on the shelves. Spend some time with a couple of friends. But it doesn't seem likely to happen.

Though it's been nice to get together with Kitty Lewis from Brick Books, and Ruth Linka from Brindle & Glass, Simon Dardick from Vehicule, Kitty Lewis from Brick Books, Brian Kaufman from Anvil. Many others. Meet with the sales force and the support staff and the rest of the LPG board. It's nice to have that reminder that there are others out there who've been through what you're going through, and likely much more; to spend a few hours with people who are as passionately devoted to what they are doing as this group is. There are times it's pretty hard not to be cynical, but this is not one of them.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Stephen Henighan on Translation

Stephen Henighan, as the editor of the Biblioasis International Translation Series, acted as host for the launch of Ryszard Kapuscinski's I Wrote Stone on Friday, November 23rd at This Aint's the Rosedale Library. His introduction on the importance of translation was very well received, and he's agreed to let me post it here.

This Ain’t the Rosedale Public Library
November 23, 2007

Stephen Henighan

Good evening! Dobry wieczór!

Welcome to the launch of Ryszard Kapuscinski’s I Wrote Stone, which is also the launch of the Biblioasis Translation Series.

This is both an evening in which to celebrate and an evening in which to remember.

It’s an evening to remember because, of course, we had hoped that Ryszard Kapuscinski would be here with us this evening. Tonight, as Biblioasis sets out on the path of a new translation series, we take the opportunity to honour a Polish writer who died earlier this year.

But we also honour the political and aesthetic act of literary translation because it is through translation that most of us discovered the magnificent writing of Ryszard Kapuscinski. As many of us are aware, in 1958 Kapuscinski went to Ghana to cover Africa for the Polish Press Agency. Over the next four decades he developed into the world’s most original and literary foreign correspondent. A simple reporter became a writer of layered, metaphorical depths with an unerring eye for terrifying details. These details leapt to life in part because Kapuscinski was not simply another stringer for the BBC or CBS. As a Pole, he looked on Africa with the eye of a man whose own country had descended into violence in his childhood; among the legions of foreign reporters describing refugees in Africa, Kapuscinski may have been the only one who had himself been a refugee.

Over four decades in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Kapuscinski witnessed 27 military coups. He was jailed on a number of occasions. He was sentenced to death four times, but always escaped. He wrote books about Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, The Shah of Iran, The Soccer War between El Salvador and Honduras, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the birth of independent Angola. These books have been published in 31 countries, almost always in translation. Indeed, I’m certain that many of us here tonight discovered Kapuscinski’s writing by reading English translations of his articles in Granta magazine. Personally, I remember wincing, white-knuckled, each time Kapuscinski rammed another burning roadblock in Togo or talked his way out of a dungeon where he was awaiting execution.

What none of us knew, of course, was that the swashbuckling reporter and daring prose stylist was also a poet. Only when Diana Kuprel and Marek Kusiba brought us a manuscript of their translations of Kapuscinski’s poetry did we become aware of this side of his literary career, which was little known outside Poland. Tonight, therefore, we’re delighted to be launching only the second-book-length translation ever of Kapuscinski’s poetry.

Diana Kuprel is going to speak about Kapuscinski’s relationship with translation, the act that made it possible for people all over the world to imbibe a Polish writer’s vision of Africa, the act which meant that at least one of the outsiders writing about Africa wasn’t from a country that had formerly colonized Africa, such as Britain or France, or a country that was aspiring to colonize it, such as the United States (and today we would have to add China).

Before Diana speaks about Kapuscinski and translation, I’d like to talk about Biblioasis and translation.

Biblioasis is a literary press run by Dan Wells out of his home office in Emeryville, Ontario, just outside Windsor. Biblioasis publishes ten or twelve books a year of Canadian fiction, poetry and literary essays. In 2005 Biblioasis published a book of stories called Yesterday’s People by a Canadian writer named Goran Simic. Since Goran’s first language is Bosnian, or the Bosnian version of the Serbo-Croatian, depending on how you want to frame it, these stories had to be rendered into English, a job that was done partly by Goran himself, partly by Dan Wells and partly by other people. These stories about life in Sarajevo during the war in former Yugoslavia are the first work of translated fiction published by Biblioasis, even though no translator’s name appears on the title page.

This experience got Dan thinking. At the same time, that Dan was thinking about translation, I was growing more and more frustrated with the sheer quantities of great writers who were translated from their own languages into other languages, often into four or five other languages, but whose work was not available in English. Because, alas, our vision of globalization is too often that globalization means that everything of importance happens in English. This attitude, in combination with certain pernicious trends in the publishing and book selling industry, means that less and less gets translated into English these days. Of the 100 best-selling paperbacks in the United Kingdom in 2004, only two were translations. Every day we hear of the importance of China, yet how many of us have read a Chinese novel? Brazilian, Indian and contemporary Arabic writing remain enigmas. Even as the United States and Latin America grow more and more integrated, younger Latin American writers are failing to get published in translation in the U.S. as the older generations, to which Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende belonged, were published. Now that Central and Eastern Europe no longer supply us with politically useful dissidents, we have ceased to translate the region’s literature, as we did in the 1980s. No longer do English-Canadian undergraduates regard translations of Martie-Claire Blais novels as vital reading, as many did in the 1970s, nor do young English-speaking readers elsewhere receive substantial exposure to current French-language fiction from Europe, Africa or the Caribbean.

All this means that English-language prose is less innovative than it used to be. Writers in most cultures read in several languages; their engagement with their own language is nourished by their experience of delving into the literatures of other languages. Major writers in other traditions, such as Jorge Luis Borges in Argentina, or Javier Marías in Spain, or J.M. Coetzee in South Africa (now in Australia) or Haruki Murakami in Japan, are also prolific translators. This is not true in North Atlantic Anglophone culture. The monolingual writer is a postmodern, Anglo-American invention. Try to imagine Jane Urquhart or Barbara Gowdy or Douglas Coupland or Guy Vanderhaeghe undertaking a literary translation. The image is almost surreal; this simply isn’t the way in which our writers approach literature. In ages prior to ours, when all writers, by definition, were multilingual, literature’s nature as an entity whose lustre was burnished by the fretting-together of different linguistic strands was so obvious that it did not need to be stated.
Since our writers are not translators, and since no reader, in any event, can hope to learn very many languages well enough to read their literature, we need translation.

The lifeblood of our literary culture depends on it. Literary movements gain fresh life through translation. Think of the most influential reading trends of the twentieth century: 19th century Russian fiction in the 1930s and 1940s, French existentialism in the 1950s and 1960s, Latin American magic realism in the 1970s and 1980s. All exercised a powerful influence on English-language prose, and all were made possible by literary translation.

When Dan Wells and I met and shared our preoccupations and decided to found the Biblioasis Translation Series, we agreed that we were looking for a kind of specificity that acknowledged a work of literature as a product of a place and a time, that acknowledged it as a creation of a particular translator grappling with a particular book in a particular context. For that reason, just as Ryszard Kapuscinski did not hide his identity as a Polish reporter in Africa, we decided that we would not hide the fact that ours were Canadian translations of world literature, and that a Canadian translation is just as legitimate and original and engaging as an American or British translation, and may be even more essential than those translations because it is bound to diverge in some respects from the assumptions of those more powerful cultures.

In contrast to some publishers these days, we decided that we were not going to hide the fact that our translations were translations. We were not going to hide the translator’s name, or banish it from the front cover. On the contrary, we would boast about our translators, just as Avon Books used to boast about Gregory Rabassa’s prowess in translating Latin American literature during the 1970s, or Penguin Classics boasted of David Margashack’s ability to render Dostoyevsky into 20th century English in the 1950s. We would recognize that translation is the most intense form of engagement with literary language that exists, an endless sifting and sieving of words for the kernels of their meanings, an improvisation which is never finished and is never satisfactory but which yields the miraculous act of transporting one culture into the realm of another, of causing the collisions of words and genres and concepts and histories and passions and fantasies which fissures and hybridizes literatures and yields new forms.

At the most simple level, translated literature opens up the world. Let me close with one very obvious example of this. The second book in the Biblioasis Translation Series is going to be the novel Good Morning Comrades by the young Angolan writer Ondjaki. I never would have got interested in Angola, I never would have travelled to southern Africa and met Ondjaki, had I not read an exquisite description of the first week of Angolan independence in a book called Another Day of Life by a Polish writer named Ryszard Kapuscinski. That book was made available to me by translation, and in turn we will soon be making an Angolan writer available to readers in Canada by way of translation. That Angolan novel is, in part, about Angola’s relations with Cuba. In addition to providing readers in Canada with a different view of Africa, it will provide them with a fresh perspective on Cuba. Beware! Translation is dangerous! Every act of translation connects part of the world to another part in a way we never could have expected; and this connection makes possible another connection, which makes possible another connection which in turn will make possible other connections in the future, and this web of connections is called culture, and it cannot exist without translation.

Thank you. Dziekuje bardzo.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Globe 100 (Plus)

Almost in spite of myself, I've been looking forward the last few weeks to seeing the Globe 100. It's been a good year for Biblioasis in the Globe: counting the paperbacks section, eight of our titles have been reviewed in the Globe since May. Three of these -- the review of Helwig's Saltsea, Ormsby's Time's Covenant and Metcalf's Shut Up He Explained, have been raves. So I felt fairly confident that Biblioasis would rate a mention this year, and hopefully, for the first time, might receive a multiple inclusion. I wasn't counting on it, but I thought it a distinct possibility. So when I picked up my morning Globe at the corner store and flipped to the Books section to see the Globe 100 listing, I let the car idle for a few minutes in the parking lot and quickly flipped through the listings to see what I'd find.

What I found was that Biblioasis did not this year merit a mention. I put the car in drive and headed on home.

I'm not going to lie to you: I was a bit disappointed. I've just finished writing my first Canada Council Block Grant this past week, and I could have used the pick-me-up. Grant writing, I've discovered over the last few years, is one of the primary functions of a Canadian publisher; though I'm now writing about 10 -12 a year between press and magazine, they don't seem to get any easier. I find the whole experience both depressing, frustrating and exhausting. As I've said elsewhere, there are times I feel more like a minor functionary in the literary bureaucracy than a publisher, and this week -- paring down my contribution to Canadian literature, my artistic vision and editorial excellence, my management and 3-5 year plan to approximately 1500 words -- I was feeling particularly bureaucratized.

But it's also not Martin Levin's job to give me a timely pick-me-up. It's his job, in this section, to list the 100+ books he and his crew considered among the best of 2007, and if Biblioasis titles couldn't crack that line-up, in their opinion, than they shouldn't be there. I might respectfully disagree -- and, trust me, I do -- but that's about as far as it goes.

I read Martin Levin's Shelf Life piece when I got home. It was quite similar to other Globe 100 Levin apologies, and no doubt absolutely true. "Rest assured, your editors have agonized -- I do not exaggerate; the pain is physical -- in winnowing the year's best to a mere fivescore. This involves a combination of gut-wrenching triage, tearful callousness, second-guesses and regrets." But then he goes on to give an example: "Have we given small presses their due? This year, I would say: Probably not."

I went back and did a count. Of the 26 titles listed in the Canadian fiction section, exactly two -- both from Cormorant -- merited mention. (I did not include Anansi in this total.) 3 of the 5 First Fictions were from "small" presses, bringing the total to 5 of 31. 2 of 5 poetry titles were from "small" presses. 2 of 50 nonfiction inclusions. Of these sections, then, 7 of 86 titles were from, quote-unquote, small presses.

So: what's my point? Not what you may think. This showing may or may not be poor. After all, the larger Canadian presses or conglomerates publish more titles, by bigger names, and are more regularly reviewed; and then a substantial number of the best books, quite reasonably, weren't Canadian at all. So for Canadian "small" presses to publish 7 of the top 100 -- or 100+ -- titles reviewed in the Globe from all books published in english seems to me to be pretty wonderful. If this is, indeed, what all of this pointless math means.

What sticks in my craw a bit is what seems to me the underlying assumption of Levin's example. It suggests that quote-unquote small presses operate on some different, likely lesser, level. That the criteria used to judge a book published by a smaller house is not the same -- and may need a touch more generosity -- than that of the larger presses. We're the country cousins and provincials who don't know what all the silverware is for and drink from the finger bowl. I fear it indicative of some belief that quote-unquote small presses need to be, in some fashion, propped up. That their best books can't stand up on their own.

It all reminds me of what a professor of mine said to me a few years ago when I told her that I was turning Biblioasis into a press. This woman is one of the leading scholars of book publishing in the country, a specialist in Victorian book publishing with several excellent histories to her credit. She smiled at me and said that that was very nice, but what I was setting out to do was not real publishing. It was more self-publishing, or hobby publishing. Nice and quaint and enthusiastic and commendable, she hinted, but not to be confused with the real thing.

This has been a motivating burr ever since. And I fear that the same somewhat muted if more well-intended impulse may lay at the heart of Levin's example.

This is not to ignore the obvious differences between Biblioasis and Coach House and Cormorant and Gaspereau, on the one side, and M&S and Random House and Douglas & McIntyre on the other. The latter obviously pay larger advances (& therefore attract more recognizable names), have larger marketing budgets, and have in-house designers. But when it comes to judging the books themselves, and especially the best of them, I think the differences between the big houses and the small houses largely evaporate. The best books produced by Coach House and Cormorant and Gapereau and Porcupine's Quill and Vehicule (& hopefully Biblioasis) show the same attention to detail, are chosen with as much care, and are as well edited, as well designed and produced, as books published by the larger houses. I would argue, in fact, occasionally moreso. As books, there are no differences, and no need to judge them by different measuring sticks. There's no need to make excuses, or be apologetic about or for them.

Literary (ie. those of us suffering from small press syndrome) publishers probably only have themselves (or, ahem, ourselves) to blame. We often trundle out the excuse of our size when it suits our purpose. And as often as this might be valid (we don't have the marketing budget for regular Globe ads, or to whisk our writers around on national tours, as do some of the larger presses) it still does damage. It contributes to the notion that we're not the real game, that
we're the minor leagues (there've been "small" presses that advertise themselves as such), at best a necessary stepping stone to the big leagues where M&S and Random House and Knopf and the big boys and girls play; at worst a place for the has-beens and never-quite-were's. We bemoan the fact that our best writers get snapped up by the larger presses ( and to illustrate this point, it could be pointed out that at least 8 of the 24 writers from large presses listed under best Canadian fiction began their careers with "small" presses).

I might be wrong, and I'm sure there are many publishers and editors out there who will disagree with me, but maybe we're creating our own problem here.

I don't buy the argument that it's the "small" presses who are doing most of the best publishing in Canada. I've met enough of the publishers and editors at the larger houses to know that they are equally committed and passionate about what they are doing, that we are all brothers and sisters in the same literary trenches (even if they do wear shinier uniforms). Some of the best books published in Canada come from smaller houses, but so do most of the worst. But it's also true that because of the nature of what we do and how we do it at the smaller houses, we can take some chances the larger presses often cannot. We can survive -- barely -- on sales of 300 to 1000 copies of a title. Commercial considerations need not weigh in quite as much. It's our advantage, especially in the BookNet era, and I think it evens the proverbial playing field quite nicely, so much so that there's no need to speak of small and large presses at all, but only the good and the bad.

I don't think there is anything "small" about any of Biblioasis' 2007 titles, and I suspect Alana Wilcox or Andrew Steeves could say the same. Lorna Jackson's Cold-cocked, John Metcalf's Shut Up He Explained, Eric Ormsby's Time's Covenant, Kathleen Winter's boYs or Patricia Robertson's Goldfish Dancer -- just to name a few -- are as well designed, edited, copy-edited, written and produced as any book produced by a larger press in 2007. They are as good, in my opinion, as almost any other book produced in 2007. Some of these may prove, in time, to be more important than any of the books that have received award nods or Globe 100 inclusion (this is absolutely the case with Ormsby's Time's Covenant).

No excuses are offered or expected. Or necessary.