Browse Case Studies (alphabetical by title)


An editor can take on different roles for different writers: eagle-eyed reader, hand-holding cheerleader, or tough-love booster. In the end, however, the editor’s role is single-minded: to bring out the best work in the writer, by whatever means possible. The communications between writer Alberto Manguel and his editor, Louise Dennys, perfectly illustrate this complex and creative relationship.


The contributions of C.W. Jefferys to the evolution of historical illustration in Canada are revealed through an analysis of his publications and a review of correspondence and speeches. Letters reveal that Jefferys exercised great artistic control during the conception and production of his book illustrations and set strict conditions with publishers. Jefferys is notable, too, for the manner in which his illustrations reflected the attitudes and expectations of his audiences.


Despite his status as one of Canada’s most celebrated poets, Archibald Lampman published the majority of his poetry abroad. This case study explores Lampman’s largely foreign publishing history, and his frustration with the limited homegrown opportunities afforded to the Canadian poet of his time.


In their annual notice to subscribers of Barbarian Press’ Endgrain Editions in 2006, Crispin and Jan Elsted tell a story of a young man – “his manner full of despair” – querying the Elsteds as to why they bothered to continue making books, particularly “when no one cares about anything anymore.” The question was even more acute since the Elsteds are not your typical book makers. They are a throwback: eschewing current methods of book making – using computers for every step of production, for example – they instead produce, out of their farmhouse in Mission, B.C., some of the finest handcrafted, letter pressed works in the world.


Ignored by Canadian publishers most of his life, poet Bliss Carman's career is a case study in the vicissitudes of North American literary publishing in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, and the need to leave Canada in order to pursue such a life.


Subscription publishing is a method of bookselling in which publishers, authors, and book agents used advertisements, sample books, and other promotional materials, to solicit subscribers in advance of publication, to avoid financial loss. A well-known example is Canadian Wild Flowers (Montreal, 1868), for which Agnes Fitzgibbon enlisted 400 subscribers. From c. 1870 to 1910, companies used various persuasive techniques to enlist book agents, and subscription publishing flourished in Canada. Bradley-Garretson, of Brantford and Toronto, Ontario, was one such publisher, and purported to have “two to three thousand” agents working across Canada in the mid-1880s.


Brita Mickleburgh (d. 2008) was a trailblazer in teaching Canadian literature in Canadian high schools. Odd as it may seem now, before 1970 she and most of her colleagues “had been teaching English not as a second language, but for all practical purposes as a foreign language”, using texts from Great Britain, Ireland and the United States.


Since its inception in 2002, the “Canada Reads” competition has become a major initiative of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The contest, which pairs five notable Canadians with the Canadian novels that they propose for the prize, has grown in popularity and in media coverage over the years, and has had appreciable effects on sales of the nominated books. This study demonstrates how a document in Margaret Atwood’s archival papers, regarding the 2005 nomination of her book, Oryx and Crake, reveals much about publishing and the media, and particularly illustrates how integrated media enterprises approach book promotion.


Great biographical depth emerges from contemporary character sketches. For an excellent narrative of the life of George Maclean Rose (1829-98), one need to look no further than A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography Being Chiefly Men of the Time (1888), a compendium he himself edited. It provides us with one of the best accounts to that date of Rose’s life, and that of his brother Daniel, at the height of their publishing activities. But a surprising resource, a cashbook for the Rose Publishing Company, presents particular details of their lives that complement or even surpass the portraits drawn in published biographies. Across the many accounts, the cashbook offers a highly personal record of the activities and interests of George and Daniel Rose.


Amidst the great leaders of Macmillan of Canada in the latter half of the twentieth century stood Gladys Neale — a female visionary thriving in a male dominated industry, who became one of the most respected educational publishers in Canada. Despite facing challenges and discrimination, Neale stormed her way through the business of educational publishing, leaving a lasting legacy as a great publisher, literacy advocate, and staunch supporter of Canadian publications and authors. This study includes an audio interview with Neale, conducted by Roy MacSkimming for his book, The Perilous Trade.