A new imprint “dedicated to publishing the best literary fiction and nonfiction from Canada and around the world” is on the horizon from the Canadian arm of multinational publisher Simon & Schuster. The new imprint, Scribner Canada, was announced on February 22; the first books are set to appear in fall 2022.
The inaugural title from the new imprint, Debra Thompson’s The Long Road Home: On Blackness and Belonging, is set to release on September 6. Thompson is an associate professor of political science at Montreal’s McGill University, and she holds the Canada Research Chair in Racial Inequality in Democratic Societies.
Also appearing with Scribner Canada in September is We Spread, the third novel from the genre-defying Canadian author Iain Reid. Described as “compassionate and uncanny,“ the novel “explores questions of conformity, art, productivity, relationships, and what, ultimately, it means to grow old.” The novel is set to publish on September 27.
The inclusion of Reid’s new book on the debut list provides a certain amount of star power right out of the gate. Reid’s debut fiction, 2016’s international bestseller I’m Thinking of Ending Things, was adapted by Charlie Kaufman for Netflix, with Jesse Plemmons and Jessie Buckley in the lead roles. The author’s follow-up, Foe, is in production from Anonymous Content with Saoirse Ronan in the lead and Garth Davis (Lion) directing. Anonymous Content has already optioned We Spread, according to Publishing Perspectives.
Kevin Hanson, Simon & Schuster Canada’s president and publisher, explains the decision to launch the new endeavour as a way of expanding the horizons of what the house is known for and what kinds of authors it is capable of publishing well. The success of Simon & Schuster Canada’s domestic publishing program, which began in 2013, has been largely predicated on bestselling commercial fiction by authors like Andrew Pyper, Marissa Stapley, Catherine McKenzie, Amy Stuart, Nick Cutter, and Robyn Harding. The Scribner Canada imprint will, it is hoped, indicate to authors and agents that the house is prepared to take on a different kind of book to complement its existing output.
“People, when they look at our list, say, ‘You guys publish a lot of bestsellers,’ ” Hanson says. “It’s limiting in terms of how a publisher is perceived by agents who bring content to us.”
Scribner Canada will serve as the domestic counterpart to the iconic Scribner line in the U.S., which currently features marquee authors such as Stephen King, Anthony Doerr, and Jennifer Egan. Begun in 1846, the imprint is also responsible for publishing canonical authors including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe. The literary pedigree of the U.S. line will help telegraph to Canadian agents and authors an ambition to broaden the scope of the domestic S&S list, Hanson hopes.
It might seem like a daunting prospect to undertake a Canadian imprint so closely aligned to an American version with such a long and storied history, but Hanson disclaims any nervousness about living up to the legacy of the U.S. counterpart. “Publishing companies are comprised of people. And we’re all trying to bridge readership – authors to readers and readers back to authors,” he says. “The business of publishing is doing it successfully enough that we continue to do it.”
The timing of the announcement, Hanson says, has nothing to do with the proposed merger between S&S and Penguin Random House, which is currently being challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice. On the contrary, Hanson believes that the company’s expansion over the past few years – he mentions bringing on Janie Yoon as editorial director in February 2021 – has helped to ensure the proper pieces are in place and the in-house team is strong enough to handle the demands of the new imprint. “Our expansion with the Scribner imprint is a confidence that we have the team in place, that we can successfully publish new voices, works in translation, and that we can find a readership for them in the Canadian market,” he says.
In the immediate term, acquisitions will be open to anyone on the editorial team at S&S Canada and no publisher has been named as yet, though Hanson suggests that may be a development farther down the road. Hanson is even hesitant to estimate how many books will appear under the Scribner Canada colophon in any given season. “Honestly, I just want to publish books well,” he says. “Sometimes you can be very successful publishing few books and finding a lot of readers; sometimes you have to publish a lot of books with more narrow readership for each. You’re just trying to do the best you can with what you have in front of you.”