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10-year-old Conundrum at crossroads

Last week, Hal Niedzviecki wrote an article in The Globe and Mail commemorating the 10th anniversary of the small, Montreal-based publishing company Conundrum Press. Hitting some commercial success lately with books like Chandra Mayor’s novel-in-vignettes Cherry (which won the Carol Shields Manitoba Book Award), garnering a fair amount of recent media attention that included an unexpected review of another book in Flare magazine — as well as an inadvertent mention in the film Sideways — and finally qualifying for his first Canada Council Block Publishing grant, Conundrum’s publisher and sole employee Andy Brown is dismissive of his success. Still, there comes a time in a small press’s life when its publisher must decide how big it could be.

“Conundrum is at a crossroads now,” Brown says to Niedzviecki. “I can stay the same and barely make a living, which is how I always imagined the future, or do I want to try and get bigger — make more sales, change the types of books I publish?”

“Some of the authors I published early on, for them to get bigger awards and advances they have to be with other publishers,” continues Brown, perhaps speaking in part of Governor General Award-nominated Golda Fried, whose chapbook Brown published in 1997, but who published her latest novel with the larger Coach House Books. “It bothers me that they have to go somewhere else.”

Related links:
Click here for Hal Niedzviecki’s piece in The Globe and Mail
Click here for a May 2004 Q&Q feature on Conundrum