Canadian publishers turn to e-book discounts to entice readers amid COVID-19

Canadian publishers turn to e-book discounts to entice readers amid COVID-19


If you’re looking for an escape from the global coronavirus pandemic, some Canadian publishers are offering special deals on e-books in a bid to entertain readers and pay authors. 

Invisible Publishing said all its e-books are set to “pay-what-you-can” during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“There’s no minimum [price]. There’s also no maximum,” said publisher Leigh Nash. “Everybody should have access to art, particularly in times of trouble.”

Invisible usually splits revenue with authors, but this arrangement will send 100 per cent of the income to the authors.

‘It’s being born in a very changed world’

“We’re in the middle of our spring launch season now and we focus on debut authors,” Nash said. “This is not a good time to be launching your first book.”

Many authors have lost chances to speak publicly, be interviewed or do book signings. People aren’t browsing in bookstores or libraries, meaning new books might never cross their paths.

Nash points to authors like Patty Scott, an Ontario writer whose first novel, The Union of Smokers, is out now. “This is a lifelong dream for him and it’s being born out into a very changed world.”

Invisible started in Halifax in 2007 and now operates in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Hug a book and feel better

Jay Millar, co-publisher at Toronto-based Book*hug Press, said they’re selling all e-books at a flat $5 rate for the same reasons. All the revenue goes to the authors.

“We’re so hyper-inundated with all the news all the time,” he said. “I think if we can put that aside and disappear into a book, not only will the time pass more pleasantly, but we will also be less anxious.”

Polar Vortex tells the story of a woman who goes offline to escape her past. One day she decides it’s safe to go back online, and trouble follows. (Submitted by Book*hug)

He said their authors with spring launches have seen everything cancelled and their plans left in tatters. Without paid speaking gigs, or helpful promotional events, fewer people will know about their new titles.

“In these unprecedented times, we thought we would do something unprecedented too,” he said.

He said people are buying in big numbers to pass the time and support authors. Gwen Benaway’s poetry collection day/break has been leading the pack, with Shani Mootoo’s novel Polar Vortex following close behind. 

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