I like reading. I’m always on the lookout for a good novel. The other day I noticed a book cover adorned with a read seal; it said The Scotiabank ‘Giller Prize Winner’. Wow! Impressive. I never won anything sponsored by a bank. Weren’t they supposed to be nearly bankrupt?
I picked it up. A paperback published by Emblem, MccClelland & Stewart, in Canada. How nice. I live in Canada. I was struck by the wide margins spread over 368 pages. One inch outside, top and bottom edges. Wow again! It they were to cut these down to say .7" they would probably save some fifty pages. Less money, less pollution, less waste. Ah, well, Scotiabank must have lots of money after all. But… aren’t the publishers squeezed these days? As I turned to copyright page, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Frankly, I was disgusted.
McClelland & Stewart acknowledged the financial support of the Government of Canada (through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program––whatever that may be); and the financial support of Government of Ontario (through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative); and the financial support of Canada Council for the Arts; and the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council.
So there you are. It’s not as if the author was an unknown beginner in dire financial straits. She claims to have four fiction and two non-fiction books already on her conscience. I wonder if I, through my taxes, had paid for all of them. I know it’s not easy. I have written more than twenty books myself. Try The Gate. Not one penny came from any assistance program. It is my contention that if your books are good enough, they will find their rightful market. If not? There are always other things you can do. Like washing dishes at the local greasy spoon joint. But surely, not for taxpayers’ money?
Of course, all those subsidies explain why they had to award the novel the ‘Giller Prize’. After all, having spent all that other people’s money, they had to make sure that, at least some of it would come back to them. To the publisher, that is. It makes you wonder why I bother to write. I could just kiss a few politicians’ asses and wait for the money to roll in. There is only one problem. I don’t like politicians. And, I don’t like kissing asses. I prefer to write books. But I have learned my lesson. I shall never, NEVER, buy a book subsidized by my taxes. I don’t care what bank supports the publisher’s Rolls Royces.