This morning I read the devastating news about D&M Publishers (Douglas & McIntrye and Greystone imprints) filing a notice of intention under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. You can read the article here. For forty years, this company has been making Canada proud by publishing quality CanLit, and I am truly saddened.
Lately, too, we’ve been inundated by the upsetting news of more beloved bookshops closing. While I abhor the “books and publishing are dead” lament, it’s difficult not to be overcome by a sense of panic sometimes. I know we are not buying as many books as we used to; like many, though, I continue to buy more books than I can keep up with and promote the hell out of authors and their books in general. And as much as I see the way things are changing and how necessary it is to adjust in light of that, I can’t jump on the bandwagon. I accept it but I’m not excited about digitizing everything, for one thing. I love my print books not just for their stories but for their designs and make; I appreciate the amount of work that goes into publishing a book. And Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone make really gorgeous books, lovely clean and distinctive design; they’re among my favourites on my shelves.
While the news is that they’re going to continue publishing while restructuring, I can’t help but feel more sad than relieved. I mean, this is good news, that they’re planning to carry on operations, but that one of Canada’s quintessential publishers is in this state distresses me (as I’ve felt with the news of other publishers suffering and going under).
After I read the article, I looked at my beautifully stocked bookshelves, I thought about my passion and livelihood as a copyeditor and proofreader, I thought about how my whole life has always revolved around books. I thought about all the book-loving employees over the years who’ve been let go from bookshops and publishers. I could feel myself on the edge of despair.
So I did what I normally do when this comes on (besides escaping into a book): I took Lucy for a walk. I have a gorgeous park nearby that I like to call my own (I’ll share but I don’t like to when I’m there), and I walk its perimeter and concentrate on breathing deeply, letting my mind empty so I take in only my surroundings: the creek, the clouds, the trees moved by gusts of wind every which way so that they remind me of ents talking. It’s a sort of meditation I like to do, and I get so into it, I often don’t even know how many times I’ve gone round by the time I finish. Lucy runs joyously. The trees are majestic and border the entire park. On one side, the maples are tall and bright as though lit by sunlight, even though today it’s raining, and the trail is thickly carpeted with fallen leaves so vividly coloured I marvel. This place is my sanctuary, and it was here that I composed this poem. It’s nothing great, but the sentiment is true.
i went to the park today
as I usually do
i did my five rounds
and watched the dog run free
i told the trees about the
state of publishing
they shivered in the October breeze
with the chill of my news
and cried vermilion tears
till they were bare
and could cry no more.
Dear D&M, I’m rooting for you. You are beautiful, you are smart, you are important. Canada loves you.