Prize-winning Canadian novel already a rare book

Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:00pm EST
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Book lovers seeking a copy of the winner of Canada's premier literary award are out of luck, unless they're ready to settle for an electronic version.

"The Sentimentalists," a surprise winner of the C$50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize this week, is trickling only slowly into bookstores as its tiny publisher cranks out copies.

The book, by first-time novelist Johanna Skibsrud, is sold out across Canada.

Nova Scotia-based specialty publisher Gaspereau Press can produce only 1,000 copies a week of their finely bound books, using an old-fashioned press.

"Ultimately the publisher owns the rights to that book and gets to make that decision, so as you can imagine we've been on the phone with the publisher as much as they'll listen to us," said Joel Silver, president of Indigo Books & Music Inc, Canada's largest bookseller.

"We respect who they are and what they do. We think the quality of their books is incredible... We're just trying to represent our customers too at this time."

Indigo has sold all four of its hardcover copies of the prize-winning book, which is based on the story of Skibsrud's father, a Vietnam War veteran. It has thousands more on order.

Canadian media said Gaspereau Press has received offers from a few large publishers, including UK-based Random House, to print more, but it has so far refused, sticking to its mantra of quality over quantity.   Continued...

<p>Author Johanna Skibsrud reacts after winning the Giller Prize for her book "The Sentimentalists" in Toronto November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>