As H.B. Fenn and Company proceeds with the near total dismantling of subsidiary Key Porter Books, concern continues to mount about the fate of Key Porter’s fall list. According to H.B. Fenn vice-president of marketing Tom Best, all titles scheduled to be released between now and December will be going ahead as planned. Marketing plans, publicity, and author tours will go forward ¦ and we are bullish about our fall lineup, says Best.
Agent Chris Bucci, of Anne McDermid & Associates, says that no one from Key Porter or H.B. Fenn was in contact with the agency prior to the news going public, even though McDermid client Christopher Shulgan is launching Superdad: A Memoir of Rebellion, Drugs, and Fatherhood this week. We’re all waiting to hear exactly how it’s going to play out, Bucci says. It’s sad. It’s never good to see a publishing house “ especially one that’s been around for a while “ go under. Bucci added that all of the agency’s Key Porter authors “ who also include Julia Devaney and Kim Clarke Champniss “ have bankruptcy clauses in their contracts.
Agent Beverly Slopen, who counts Key Porter author David Posen among her clients, says she had no advance word of the closure of the Toronto office either, but she’s hoping the impact on the company’s backlist titles will be minimal. I’m assuming that Key Porter authors ¦ will still be part of [H.B. Fenn and Company’s] distribution catalogue, she says, adding that it’s hard to watch another Canadian company in crisis. The options for publishing are shrinking so quickly¦. These are very chaotic times, and I just hope we get through [this] retrenchment period.
Few ex-staffers from Key Porter have been willing to speak about the situation, but former manager of special and corporate sales Paula Sloss says that everyone was in shock when the announcement was made yesterday afternoon. The way things have been the past couple of months, we were all expecting some form of announcement, but it was surprising that it was so radical, she says, adding that things have been very scary since May. I’ve been there since 2001. All of a sudden it’s over. You don’t realize how much of who you are is attached to your profession.
Meanwhile, former publicist Jenna Illies, who had been with the company only for the past few months, says she was shattered after the staff meeting. But I have been through much worse, and I always seem to land on my feet, she says.