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Quotes from the top

A Monday morning panel discussion at BookExpo Canada, dubbed “View from the Top,” drew more than 60 attentive spectators. Moderated by Globe and Mail arts writer James Adams, the panel included four Canadian publishing execs “ Random House of Canada president and CEO Brad Martin, Simon & Schuster Canada president Kevin Hanson, House of Anansi Press president Sarah MacLachlan, and McClelland & Stewart VP and associate publisher Susan Renouf. The conversation touched on several big themes, from environmental concerns to pricing to e-books. Some highlights appear below.

On the supply chain

“If the consumers really understood the amount of energy involved in shipping all that stuff, they would be appalled.” “ Sarah MacLachlan

“That’s the biggest waste in our business…. That’s one of the first things we have to tackle.” “ Brad Martin (on mass-market paperbacks, which are destroyed if unsold)

On book pricing

“One of the things we’ve really failed at as an industry is selling the value of what we all collectively do…. We’ve done such a good job [over the past several decades] of selling the democracy of reading, and that it should be accessible to everyone, that we’ve kind of bottomed ourselves out of our own market. We have failed to market ourselves as something that is valuable.” “ Susan Renouf

“The model that we use to sell books is sort of ridiculous…. We have to think about a new way of selling new books.” “ Sarah MacLachlan (on the list-price practice)

“For the most part, we are a price taker.” “ Kevin Hanson (on the Canadian market’s pressure to compete with the U.S.)

On e-books

“I think we’re getting closer to the tipping point where e-books become a much more powerful force in the market…. I don’t believe there will be a single platform. I believe there will be a number of competing platforms in the immediate future.” “ Brad Martin

“I find if I work late on my computer at night and try to go to sleep, I can’t. Whereas if I read a book I go to sleep in two minutes.” “ Sarah MacLachlan

“The challenge for all of us is that it means we all have to run parallel business models.” “ Susan Renouf (on e-books complementing print books)

On the market

“I think there are more readers out there. We have to be optimistic about that.” “ Kevin Hanson

“Diversity is supposedly a great thing, both in nature and in book publishing, so I’m not going to say there are too many books being published.” “ Brad Martin