An interview with Rob Sanders from Greystone Books

“Support in getting out to other parts of the world is critical. We can’t just sit back.”

-Rob Sanders

Without question, there is a strong demand for Canadian content in Canada, yet that doesn’t always translate to international success. According to Rob Sanders of Greystone Books, in order to thrive in today’s publishing market, you need to think globally.

Greystone had the foresight many years ago to set up strong distribution channels across the US and UK, and that’s helped them stay in the game. “We are a stealth publisher, which for us means not pushing Canada on the rest of the world. We find it’s more effective to publish ideas and information without borders.”

While it can be hard to compete with major publishing cities in different time zones, such as New York or Toronto, what it really comes down to is readership. Rob believes that a reader in Texas or London, England can be just as engaged as a reader in Cranbrook, BC. It’s only a matter of reaching them in the most economical and efficient way.

 

Despite the advantages the big publishing cities have, they’re not always better, according to Rob. “In places like Toronto and New York, there’s always something happening, 24 hours a day and that can detract attention. Out here, you have a bit more quiet so you can focus on your community. We have a good sense of what people are doing here.”

British Columbia has a strong publishing community. From writers to designers, artists to small publishing houses, there are lots of people working in the industry. In order to stay ahead, publishers need to continue to be innovative and push the envelope. “We do something new every month – we’re always trying new things. Yet there aren’t a lot of resources to draw on, and we don’t have deep pockets, so it can be challenging. Creative BC has been helpful as we set out to learn what other markets, in other parts of the world, are doing.”

What it comes down to is building relationships and fostering communities. It’s helping establish places, in person and online, for books to find their readers.

“I believe that good material will always find interested readers. For us, it’s about being sensitive to what people want, how they will react and where they will hear about it. Young people are the readers of today and tomorrow, and we want to continue to create an active, dynamic community of writers and people who are interested in what they are saying.”

This interview originally appeared in Creative BC’s 2016/2017 Impact Report.