Sono Nis publisher Diane Morriss has spent days salvaging the remains of her press’s West Kootenay‚ B.C., headquarters following an Aug. 4 fire that destroyed its offices, warehouse‚ and guest suite. The basement housing Sono Nis’s archives was left partially burned and water damaged‚ but somewhat intact‚ meaning much of the archives from the press’s nearly 50-year history were spared‚ along with some other paperwork and computers. Still, some of the publisher’s most valuable items and personal possessions have been lost.
“We have a crew of friends here helping get all the archives and other stuff out of the basement before the building gets demolished‚” Morriss says. “We were in the process of transferring our archives into plastic tubs before the fire‚ and it looks like everything in tubs will be okay.”
Morriss says her next steps after the demolition are to find a suitable distributor so she can start reprinting and redistributing some of the press’s titles – of which there are more than 400 in total, including 150 in print – within the next few months‚ and to transfer the remaining archives to Simon Fraser University, which is in possession of Sono Nis’s earlier materials. Morriss and her husband, Jim, plan to rebuild, but on a smaller scale and without a warehouse. “It doesn’t make sense to do all the distribution now after what’s happened,” she says.
Morriss says insurance will cover a portion of the reconstruction, but demolition and rubble removal will be deducted from their payout. The press is due to receive the full amount for the book stock it was insured for in the coming weeks.
“I will be able to reprint a good number of our titles but will have to look at how things were selling and what is worthy of reprinting. We’re lucky the business carried no debt‚ which will make recovery somewhat easier‚” Morriss says. “We’re pretty nervous about fire now. … It’s unbelievable the trauma it creates. We’re too nervous to even leave the property together. But we’ve received an enormous amount [of support] from the community here and the book community. It makes a huge difference. It really gets you through the day.”