Having previously sold only 400 copies of her 2009 debut novel, The Sentimentalists, it's safe to say the Canadian author, Johanna Skibsrud, was as taken aback as the rest of the literary world when she scooped the coveted Scotiabank Giller Prize last week. The biggest literary competition in Canada, 30-year-old Skibsrud was also presented with a $50,000 cheque for her work - most of which she plans to use to pay off student loans and travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The youngest winner of the prize in its 17-year history, Skibsrud may want to save some of that cash for other purposes, however. Namely, to help her publisher, Gaspereau Press, print more copies of her (now) award-winning book.
An independent publishing house well known for its lovingly and painstakingly designed books, it is definitely a case of quality over quantity for the Novia Scotia-based publisher, which pressed a mere 2,000 extra copies of The Sentimentalists after it was longlisted for the annual prize. And with previous winners having gone on to sell tens of thousands of extra copies each as a result, Gaspereau Press's inability to publish more than 1,000 copies a week could prove to be a bit of a problem. Determined to keep its integrity intact, Gaspereau has also revealed it had turned down offers from several bigger publishers to help cope with rising demand for the book.
Skibsrud has since voiced her concerns, but we think her publisher knows best. Because if there's anything a literary buff likes more than a good book, it's a good book that not everybody can get their hands on.