Ken Whyte and Jack David on the lessons of Canadian Book Publishing

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By Nigel Beale. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Jack David launched the publishing house ECW in 1974 as the journal Essays on Canadian Writing - from which came the E, the C, and the W. For the next ten years the company focused on scholarly projects and occasionally dabbled in more accessible trade books and biographies. The breakthrough came when it decided in the early 90s to publish books about non-literary folk, the key title being a biography of country singer k.d. lang. The book broke out in the American market and illustrated to ECW that it could be successful publishing trade titles with universal appeal. ECW has followe​d this literary/commercia​l path ever since. ​ "I love to be surprised," says Jack, "and I love to find myself reading something that I would never pick up in a bookstore (if any remain). In fact, I enjoy reading unsolicited proposals; I live in hope. I sometimes find myself reading a line or a passage to anyone who happens to be within earshot. I do this spontaneously because I like to share what I’m enjoying; and then I observe myself and register the fact that I want others to take pleasure in what I’m reading. That’s the impetus for signing up a book." Ken Whyte knows magazine and newspaper publishing. He was editor-in-chief of Saturday Night Magazine, founding editor-in-chief of the National Post newspaper, editor-in-chief and publisher at Maclean's Magazine, and President of Rogers Publishing Company. He's an accomplished author having written The Uncrowned King: the Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst, a Washington Post, LA Times, and Globe & Mail book of the year; a groundbreaking biography of Herbert Hoover; and most recently, The Sack of Detroit: General Motors and the End of American Enterprise, a book which is currently creating quite a stir across North America. Additional interesting things about Ken: he's chairman of the board of the Donner Canada Foundation, one of Canada's leading philanthropic organizations. He sits on the board of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the National NewsMedia Council, the Digital Policy Forum, and the Frontier Institute. He is a member of the advisory committee of the Cundill Prize, the world's richest prize for historical non-fiction, and a governor of the Aurea Foundation, which funds public policy research in Canada. Several years ago he launched Sutherland House Books, a publishing house based in Toronto, Canada which has world dominating aspirations, plus he writes Shush, a weekly newsletter on the publishing business. I invited these two gentlemen to join me for a Zoom conversation about Canadian book publishing and the lessons it might offer the world.

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