Fonds 87-58 - Western Producer Prairie Books fonds

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Western Producer Prairie Books fonds

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  • 1954-1988 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

22.44 m of textual records
254 photographs
16 slides

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Administrative history

Western Producer Prairie Books was established as an independent department of the newspaper 'Western Producer' in 1975. It was dissolved when its assets were sold to Douglas and McIntyre of Vancouver in the fall of 1991. Mandate: The mandate of Western Producer Prairie books was to publish books which would contribute to the enjoyment and enlightenment of the farmers of Western Canada, to preserve a record of western tradition and history, and to encourage western writers. Manuscripts relating to the three Prairie Provinces, the various types of farming found in the region, and the ethnic groups which settled Western Canada were among those selected for publication. Predecessor and Successor Bodies: Prior to the establishment of Western Producer Prairie Books, books were published by the 'Western Producer' itself. It began to publish in 1954, and in 1968 the Prairie Books Committee was established to deal specifically with the publication of books. In 1973 Prairie Books purchased the publishing rights, remaining books and unbound sheets of the Institute of Applied Arts Ltd. from the estate of William Clarence Richards of Edmonton, its publisher. To obtain Manitoba titles for Prairie Books the list of Prairie Publishing Co. Ltd. was purchased from J.A.D. Stuart of Winnipeg. In 1975, the new Editor and Publisher of the 'Western Producer', R. Phillips, decided that the book publishing end of the business could no longer be run through the Executive Editor. He hired a manager, who would be in charge of editorial and marketing functions and Chairman of what had become the Publications Selection Committee. Soon after, additional staff members were added, and in that same year, 'Western Producer Prairie Books' became an independent department. In the fall of 1991, 'Western Producer Prairie Books' assets were sold to Douglas and McIntyre of Vancouver. Administrative Relationships: When 'Western Producer Prairie Books' was an independent department of the newspaper, 'Western Producer' it was subsidized by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, which also owns the 'Western Producer'. Administrative Structure: When 'Western Producer Prairie Books' was established as an independent department in 1975, a managerial position was created. This manager was in charge of both editorial and marketing functions. Additional staff members were added at this same time. Other Significant Information: The 'Western Producer' put out its first book, 'To Find the Daily Bread', by Jacob Fast, in 1954 after releasing it in installments in the 'Western Producer'. The next year, the newspaper took on its first commercial venture in book publishing, with the publication of 'So Soon Forgotten' by Dick Fairfax. In 1958, the new Editor and Publisher of the 'Western Producer', T.R. Melville-Ness, established the position of promotion manager, who would be responsible for the promotion and sale of books. Prior to this, books were advertised and sold directly through the newspaper. By 1966, the number of manuscripts awaiting publication had increased enough to necessitate publishing some books straight from manuscripts, rather than serializing them in the newspaper first. This new process put a great deal of strain on the printing plant and eventually resulted in the creation of the Prairie Books Committee in April of 1968, establishing a structure for the publication of books. Douglas and McIntyre of Vancouver, who purchased the assets of 'Western Producer Prairie Books', started the imprint, Greystone Books. This publisher maintains a mandate similar to that of 'Prairie Books'. It also holds the rights to the publication of all books that had been put out by 'Western Producer Prairie Books'.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created by Western Producer Prairie Books publishing company, (1954-1988). The records are arranged in fifteen series reflecting the functions of the organization: Administration; Author Files; Books; Calendars; Catalogues; Committees; Design Files; Editorial Files; Education Files; Festivals and Fairs; Financial Records; Manuscripts; Publicity and Promotion; Songbook; and Computer Print-outs. The records primarily cover the years in which Prairie Books operated as an independent department, 1975-1991. However, the majority of books published back to 1954 are found in the collection, by a wide variety of authors including such popular prairie writers as James Gray, John Charyk, Hugh Dempsey, Grant MacEwan, R.H. MacDonald, J.G. MacGregor and many more. The fonds is remarkably complete, containing annual reports, marketing materials, budgets, personnel records, grant files, contacts, photographs, production records, publications, financial statements, sales records, inventory reports, customer files, manuscripts, book ideas, meeting files, and other records documenting all aspects of the book publishing business. Of particular interest is the extensive correspondence with authors, publishers, federal and provincial government agencies, libraries, bookstores, book clubs, book sellers' organizations, suppliers, and publishers' associations. Notable among the latter is a series of files relating the Association of Canadian Publishers, 1976-1984.

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Physical condition

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The filing system used by Western Producer Prairie Books has been maintained in this collection. Minor alterations in the order of headings have been made in order to connect similar groups of files. A number of files contained no records and were removed

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Restrictions on access

Open for research; files in Box 108, 109, 132-141 relating to rejected manuscripts are closed

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Finding aids

Inventory is available for 87-58.

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General note

Includes 40 oversize items.

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