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Regina authors finding new ways to keep books in readers’ hands

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WATCH: For 45 years, Coteau Books helped Regina authors publish and distribute their work. But after closing its doors in February, Kayleen Sawatzky explains how these writers are changing their approach to publishing – May 21, 2020

An auction selling the leftover merchandise from a former Regina bookstore had some local authors bringing their published work back into their own hands.

Coteau Books closed its doors in February after declaring bankruptcy. The books left behind were sold through McDougall Auctioneers Ltd. on Wednesday.

Regina author Judith Silverthorne was able to purchase 21 boxes of her own books, all of which were donated to local schools in order to keep their legacy alive.

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“I didn’t want them to be thrown out or pulped, or whatever might happen to whatever was left over,” said Silverthorne. “So I decided to buy them and then I donated them.”

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For Silverthorne, the closure of Coteau Books was devastating.

“I’ve written 14 books, and nine of them were published through Coteau,” she explained. “It had been so much of my whole writing career.”

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Now, Silverthorne is just happy her books will still bring joy to those she wrote them for.

“The kids need to read, and if they’re enjoying the books, I want them to be able to have access to them.”

Other authors bought their books back in hopes of having alternative publishers take them on.

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N.B. teacher writes children’s book to help them talk about COVID-19 – May 21, 2020

Amy Jo Ehman bought back several hundred copies of her book Prairie Feast, and already has a publisher willing to take it on in the future.

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“There was definitely relief,” said Ehman, “knowing my book had a publisher and distributor that wants to keep it on bookshelves going forward.”

Ehman said it’s important for an author to keep their books on as many shelves as possible.

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“We’re all as individuals just trying to do something to keep our babies going in this world,” she laughed. “To keep them available on bookstore shelves, and available to our readers who have discovered us.”

While Silverthorne’s books will still be available at local gift shops, she said it can sometimes be tricky to keep them in bigger retail stores after they’ve already been published.

“You have to change the ISBN number, and you can’t use the Coteau logo. In some cases, the covers have to be replaced as well.”

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This process can quickly get expensive, and has some authors considering swaying from traditional publication methods in the future.

“I might look at reprinting them,” Silverthorne said. “But I think the way I’m going to go is eBooks and print-on-demand.”

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Some emerging Regina authors have leaned away from publishing locally from the start.

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Suzy Krause, who published her first book last year, opted to publish with a company owned by Amazon.

“I wanted a larger, American publishing house,” explained Krause. “Just because it felt like they would have more in terms of distribution and marketing.”

Since then, her book has sold over 20,000 copies in countries all over the world.

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Although Krause said she would consider publishing locally in the future, she has to feel comfortable with the editor and their intentions like she did in the case of her first book.

“Publishing in interesting in that there are so many ways to do it. All of them are legitimate, valid and fun when you get to explore all the different options.”

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