Douglas McIntyre

When Wiley, one of the largest business book publishers in the country, quit publishing in Canada a year and a half ago, Chris Labonté knew he had made the right bet.

Labonté and partner Richard Nadeau were preparing to launch Figure 1 Business, a division of their Figure 1 Publishing dedicated to business books.

It was a bold move.

At first blush, 2012 was not a good year for independent Canadian book publishing. It began with Random House, owned by German conglomerate Bertelsmann, finally and completely swallowing up McClelland & Stewart, the iconic publisher once as central to Canadian culture as the CBC. It ended with 42-year-old Vancouver-based Douglas & McIntyre, the largest independent publisher in the country, home to such household names as David Suzuki and Douglas Coupland, essentially filing for bankruptcy protection. Reports in the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail portrayed an industry in apparent free-fall

The statement that the Canadian publishing industry is hanging by a thread is nothing new -- indeed, fearing the demise of Canadian culture seems to be almost as important to Canadian culture as the creation of Canadian art and literature itself. The bell has tolled for the future of Canadian literature so often that we've learned to tune it out. And through all those warnings, the Canadian publishing industry has found a way to survive.

This time, however, things are different.

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