Canadian book sales are up, according to BookNet, which tracks them in approximately 75 per cent of our market. In New York and London, lists and imprints have been trimmed or eliminated and there have been layoffs, but Canadian publishers are not cutting back their lists and staff.Dig deeper, though, and you find that while book sales are up in Canada, the books that are selling are primarily American-authored books.
Canadian bookstore and library shelves are filled by approximately 80-per-cent foreign-authored and -published books. These are promoted by U.S. television programs and magazines such as 60 Minutes and People, which have, respectively, more viewers in Canada than The Fifth Estate and more readers than Maclean's. Canadian books occupy some 20 per cent of shelf space.It’s not all caused by American TV and print ads, though.
Even without the benefit of the U.S. taste-setting machinery, certain popular American authors sell 6,000 to 8,000 copies a week in the first months of their release here; the average Canadian book will sell no more than 1,500 copies in its short and brutal life.The real problem, according to some, is the pervasiveness of the American culture in Canada.
It's the simple fact that our English-language media is dominated by U.S. and British culture.
When the work of Edgar Allen Poe is taught in schools, students learn to read American Gothic horror. As adults, they have a taste for Stephen King, Poe's heir.
It is natural to think of the United States and England as producing better writers than Canada not because that's true (it isn't), but because it's taught and reinforced every day by media that don't review Canadian books in significant numbers, don't interview Canadian authors and prefer the easy bad-news aspects of a story to serious investigation.