Why Five Rivers Publishing exists

I don’t often intrude with personal paradigm and thought here, have always felt it too personal, too crass to discuss in public these ideals which guide my life and thereby this publishing house. But today, inspired by a voice I’ve often read and always admired, I break with that self-imposed restriction.

And so first, the muse:


Although Le Guin speaks from an American perspective, the tenets of her address hold true for this very Canadian publishing house, and indeed form the framework upon which we’ve built, and continue to build, that is, quite simply, a commitment to bring publishing back to uncompromising personal editors where it belongs, rather than focus-group marketing.

Coupled with that we have an environmental strategy that embraces print-on-demand and digital technologies, along with a strict no-returns policy which has more to do with the imperative of printing only the books required for sale, rather than printing books for a marketing display in a large chain which will end up being returned in 90, 180 or 365 days.

Here at Five Rivers we relish the opportunity to work with new authors, new voices, illuminating the unique and varied culture of this diverse and enormous country. We cherish the opportunity to allow known authors the latitude for experimentation discouraged by the Big Five.

We believe in the power of the story-teller, whether that story-teller weaves a fabric of fiction or reality. In a way, we attempt to emulate the story-teller’s circle of our First Nations. It is through such narratives we, as a nation, gain perspective about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we might be going. It opens a discussion, stimulates conjecture. Perhaps, even, allows us to better understand and continue to work toward enlightenment, accommodation, and equitable harmony.

Yes, we believe the power of literature, the power of the story-teller, has the ability to shape nations, and inform and inspire people.

Moreover, we believe this paradigm of publishing can form a solid business foundation. It is possible to marry ideal and art to business and commerce without compromising standards of excellence.

I’ve always said to my kids, dreams do come true; they just take a lot of work.

And so we at Five Rivers continue to work to showcase Canadian storytellers of both fiction and non-fiction, with the primary criterion of publishing books because of their beauty, importance and relevance, rather than their commercial potential. We feel this is as it should be. And we hope you will join us in this journey, and share your thoughts and your voices with us.

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