Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Not New York: Book Business and Culture in Toronto, Canada

Those of us living in Toronto are a lucky bunch. Torontonians have access to one of the best library systems in the country, are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a great selection of independent bookstores we can support, and live in a city home to some of the nation’s most celebrated authors.

Toronto also houses the offices of numerous publishers, including HarperCollins Canada, Penguin Random House Canada, House of Anansi, Simon and Schuster Canada, Hachette Canada, Kobo, Harlequin (one of several principal offices), and University of Toronto Press, as well as independent  publishers like ECW Press and Coach House Books. Given the number of publishing houses in Toronto, we have a strong community of industry professionals who are passionate about Canadian literature and literacy. Since I began working in publishing three years ago at HarperCollins, I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet with people working for various publishers, who really are the best of the best.

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Another great part about the publishing scene in Toronto is that there are three great programs offered here, that are perfect for recent graduates, individuals already in the publishing industry who are looking to further their skills, or those looking for a career change.

Humber College offers a four-month Creative Book Publishing program taught by industry professionals. The program starts with two months of publishing courses, after which students choose three of five specializations: editorial, marketing, literary agenting, technology, or a research project. The program ends with a group “Enterprise” assignment where students create their own fictional publishing company.

Ryerson University’s Certificate in Publishing, offers a range of courses on the editing, business, design, sales, marketing and publicity aspects of book publishing. I discovered Ryerson’s program when I graduated in 2012 with my Masters in History and was trying to figure out what my next step would be. After taking two courses, I was hooked and determined to work in publishing. I landed an internship at HarperCollins and a few months later started as Marketing Assistant!

Finally, Centennial College’s publishing program prepares students to work in a variety of positions in the industry, with hands-on education, practice publishing e-books, and offering them the chance to work on the bi-yearly On the Danforth magazine.

The publishing professionals and book lovers living in and around Toronto also get the chance to take part in some truly great events that celebrate Canadian and international authors. The Word On The Street is one of the Toronto’s literary scene’s most-anticipated events. The free annual outdoor festival promotes Canadian literacy with a variety of programing and activities for both adults and children.  I’ve been lucky enough to run the HarperCollins Canada festival booth for the past three years, and it’s the event that I most look forward to all year. It’s an incredible thing to see people of all ages excited about books and literature, and to actually get to talk to people in person about what they’re currently reading! Since I mostly interact with readers online through the social media accounts I manage, this is definitely my favourite part of the festival.

The International Festival of Authors (IFOA) is another really exciting event that brings some of the world’s best authors to Toronto each fall for eleven days of readings, interviews, discussions, and signings. Over 8,500 authors from more than 100 countries have participated in IFOA, including Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Salman Rushdie. The event truly celebrates literature from around the world and offers readers the chance to engage with the finest literature of our time.

Then, of course, there’s the much-anticipated Book Lover’s Ball every February, where I once sat next to award-winning novelist Heather O’Neill, who I maintain is the single coolest author on the planet. There are also regular author readings and discussions at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, (which has featured the likes of Lena Dunham! And Judy Blume!), book launches, and so much more.

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