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The Jack Awards

A small family reunion would make the second floor of Toronto’s Czehoski restaurant on Queen Street West feel a little cramped. With dozens of bookselling and publishing industry friends and well-wishers present to see A Different Drummer’s Richard Bachmann receive this year’s Jack Award, the place felt like a bizarre, adult game of Twister.

Bachmann, an outspoken figure on the Canadian publishing and bookselling scene for many years, received the award – a bowling ball-sized metal jack, appropriately enough – from author Michael Winter, whose 2004 novel The Big Why won the Drummer General’s Award, a prize Bachmann set up to recognize worthy books that were overlooked by the major awards.

In his acceptance speech, Bachmann admitted that A Different Drummer could just as easily be a “small bookstore on a side street in Burlington,” but that he and his staff have always wanted it to be more, a place that engages both author and readers, something he said was being lost amid shrinking serious book coverage and a culture more obsessed with technology than reading.

Bachmann made a point of thanking Hamilton bookseller Bryan Prince, with whom he often collaborates on events and promotions. At the end of his speech, Bachmann proposed a toast, not only to his friends and fellow booksellers, but to readers.

The Jack Award, presented by the Book Promoters Association of Canada, has been awarded each year since 1993 to “an individual within the Canadian publishing industry or media, who has made a significant contribution to the promotion of Canadian authors and books.” The award is named after Jack McClelland, who was its first recipient.

Before the presentation of the Jack Awards, outgoing BPAC president Doug Blair presented the Award for Promotional Excellence to HarperCollins Canada’s publicity team, for their campaign for Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers. Miranda Snyder of HarperCollins accepted the award on behalf of the rest of the team. Honourable mentions went to Penguin Canada, for its campaign for Craig Davidson’s The Fighter, and HarperCollins again, for the campaign for Londonstani.

Among those in attendance were author Elizabeth Hay, The Globe and Mail‘s Martin Levin, McClelland & Stewart’s Ruta Liormonas and Ellen Seligman, McGill-Queen’s University Press’s Jacqueline Davis, freelance publicist Debby de Groot, McArthur & Company’s Kim McArthur, Penguin Canada’s Yvonne Hunter and Stephen Myers, incoming BPAC president David Leonard, and many more.

To view photos from the event, click here.