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Books Abroad: Book Business and Publishers in Toronto

Toronto_CanadaOne of the world’s biggest English-language publishing hubs can be found in Toronto. Canada’s largest city boasts an extensive book culture, housing the Canadian offices of the Big Six Five, as well as impressive local independent presses. The Canadians are proud of their literary heritage and its contributions to the global arts scene, and the government actively works to promote Canadian literature throughout the country and around the world.

In Toronto, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) is a government agency that “promotes, enhances and leverages investment, jobs, and original content creation” in the province’s media industry. The OMDC supports trade organizations and industry-wide marketing events; hosts Digital Dialogue, an annual conference that brings together media executives to network and discuss topics about emerging digital opportunities; and administers Ontario’s Trillium Book Award for literary excellence. It also hosts From Page to Screen, an initiative that encourages the screen adaptation of Canadian literature by bringing film and TV executives together with Ontario publishers.

Most independent Canadian presses are members of the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP), which supports Canadian writers and Canadian literature through professional development and government relations. Among the ACP’s membership are the acclaimed Coach House Books (their office is actually in an old coach house!), Dundurn Press, ECW Press, and Second Story Press, which published international bestseller Hana’s Suitcase in 2002. The University of Toronto Press publishes scholarly books, as well as textbooks for the Canadian higher education market. Toronto is also home to several major literary agencies, including Canada’s largest agency, Westwood Creative Artists, which represents, among other distinguished writers, Life of Pi author Yann Martel. The globally recognized Harlequin brand, also headquartered in Toronto, continues to be a world leader (and pioneer in) Romance and audience engagement.

The job market and entry-level expectations are similar to what one might find in New York. For those seeking a head start, there are a number of postgraduate publishing certificate programs (such as the Creative Book Publishing program at Humber College or the Magazine and Book Publishing Program at Centennial College). Internships are the best way to get started in the industry, but Centennial Magazine and Book Program alumna Claudia Grieco warns, that, as in New York, internships are rarely paid. She recommends finding freelance writing and editing work to supplement your income and fill out your resume. If you have a knack for new media, blogger and publishing adventurer Erinne Sevigny of The Great Canadian Publishing Tour suggests looking at companies such as social reading and story-sharing company Wattpad, eReading provider Kobo, and Booknet (the Canadian equivalent of BookScan).

If you are planning to relocate to Toronto, keep in mind that while housing costs can be roughly half of what they would be in a similar location in New York, other living expenses are often more expensive. Luckily, the downtown area is fairly walkable, so there’s really no need to have a car. The TTC transit system, a network of subways, buses, and streetcars, is considered to be pretty good, though it stops after 1:30am. And while temperatures in the winter months can fall below freezing, Lake Ontario keeps away much of the cold and snow that affect other Canadian cities. Plus, Toronto’s underground pedestrian walkway, the PATH, links 50 office towers and is also the largest underground shopping center in North America.

While it offers the same kinds of social and cultural outlets found in most major cities, a general resistance to large chains and corporate retailers gives Toronto a vibe all its own. It’s also a city built for bibliophiles. In a recent article, The Washington Post’s Michael Kaminer called Toronto the “Shangri-La” of books, citing “a massive student population, a buy-local ethos and strong neighborhood ties” that encourage “a vibrant homegrown bookstore culture.” If you are looking for an eclectic city with a supportive community, then Toronto may be the place for you.

Do you work in publishing or a related field in the Toronto area? Please share your experiences with us!

4 Comments

  1. […] Most independent Canadian presses are members of the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP), which supports Canadian writers and Canadian literature through professional development and government relations. Among the ACP’s membership are the acclaimed Coach House Books (their office is actually in an old coach house!), Dundurn Press, ECW Press, and Second Story Press, which published international bestseller Hana’s Suitcase in 2002. The University of Toronto Press publishes scholarly books, as well as textbooks for the Canadian higher education market. Toronto is also home to several major literary agencies, including Canada’s largest agency, Westwood Creative Artists, which represents, among other distinguished writers, Life of Pi author Yann Martel. The globally recognized Harlequin brand, also headquartered in Toronto, continues to be a world leader (and pioneer in) Romance and audience engagement. Read More » […]

  2. Publerati says:

    Toronto was also an early hub for software innovation with major companies like Corel and several important startups in photo-editing software. Plus now Blackberry of course. Many excellent packaged goods software products came out of Toronto during the 1990s software publishing heyday on CD and DVD-ROM. It was not far behind Los Angeles and Silicon Valley at the dawn of the Internet. Not sure how many in the book biz know this. Thanks for the article.

  3. […] brief description of Publishing in Toronto: Books Abroad: Book Business and Publishers in Toronto by Shannon Kobran from Publishing […]

  4. mike says:

    It is truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I have a mystical book, translated word for word from the old Russian. It is a heavy mystical work, and there are several thousand people waiting for it to come out.
    Theodeor Lebar

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Most independent Canadian presses are members of the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP), which supports Canadian writers and Canadian literature through professional development and government relations. Among the ACP’s membership are the acclaimed Coach House Books (their office is actually in an old coach house!), Dundurn Press, ECW Press, and Second Story Press, which published international bestseller Hana’s Suitcase in 2002. The University of Toronto Press publishes scholarly books, as well as textbooks for the Canadian higher education market. Toronto is also home to several major literary agencies, including Canada’s largest agency, Westwood Creative Artists, which represents, among other distinguished writers, Life of Pi author Yann Martel. The globally recognized Harlequin brand, also headquartered in Toronto, continues to be a world leader (and pioneer in) Romance and audience engagement. Read More » […]

  2. […] brief description of Publishing in Toronto: Books Abroad: Book Business and Publishers in Toronto by Shannon Kobran from Publishing […]

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