LORIMER, Rowland

Author Tags: Publishing

On March 20th, 2008, at a dinner in his honour, Rowland Lorimer, co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at SFU and mainstay of its Master in Publishing program, received the Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding support of writing and publishing in British Columbia. [See press release below] In 2012, Lorimer published Ultra Libris, described as the definitive policy overview of the book publishing industry in Canada. It became one of three finalists for the Canada Prize in the Social Sciences.

DATE OF BIRTH: March 17, 1944

PLACE OF BIRTH: Regina, Saskatchewan




Ultra Libris: Policy, Technology, and the Creative Economy of Book Publishing in Canada (ECW 2012) $34.95
Dreamcatcher: Towards a Creativity/Innovation Strategic Plan
for British Columbia: A BCreative 2012 Conference Report (SFU / CCSP Press 2012) 978-0-9738727-8-1
Lorimer, Rowland and Mike Gasher. 2005. Chinese translation of Mass Communication in Canada. Guangdong People's Publishing House.
Lorimer, Rowland and Jean McNulty or Mike Gasher Mass Communication in Canada, editions 1-5, 1987, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2004 McClelland and Stewart and Oxford University Press.
Lorimer, Rowland. 1998. Masovne komunikacije: Komparativni uvod. Beograd: Izvadac Clio (translation of Mass Communication A Comparative Introduction into Serbian) Preface: Zorica Babic
Lorimer, Rowland. 1997. Vibrant But Threatened: Book Publishing in Canada. Vancouver: Centre for Distance Education and Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. (textbook)
Lorimer, Rowland. 1994. Mass Communication, A Comparative Introduction Manchester University Press
Lorimer, Rowland and Donald C. Wilson 1991. Creating Information and Ideas. (Author/Editor) Calgary: Detselig.
Lorimer, Rowland. 1984. The Nation in the Schools: Wanted, a Canadian Education. OISE Press.
Lorimer, Rowland (with other authors) The Other Guide to Language Patterns (Vol 1 - 3).


BA (1964) and MA (1966), University of Manitoba, psychology
PhD (1968) Educational Psychology OISE
1968-2009 Simon Fraser University
Founder: Master of Publishing program and Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University
President, Association for Canadian Studies and Canadian Association of Learned Journals
Editor (1993-1999) and Publisher (1999-2005) Canadian Journal of Communication
Author of many different commissioned reports on book and magazine publishing.
Author of many scholarly articles

[BCBW 2014] "Publishing"

Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing

SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY IS OVERCOMING geography and taking centre stage in the field of publishing studies. The first students in SFU's new Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing have enrolled for credit courses this fall. In addition the centre has purchased the archives of the Association of Canadian Publishers, commenced research projects under Dr. Rowland Lorimer, and established an advisory panel under Reader's Digest's Ralph Hancox to secure industry and financial support for the project. Hancox has already presented a $102,500 foundation grant from The Reader's Digest Association of Canada. “I saw that the centre, properly guided and funded, could become the basis of an effective entry by the Canadian publishing industry into world markets," he said. The centre as part of the department of communication, will offer degrees in publishing and will be located at Simon Fraser's new urban university campus at Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver. SFU has also conferred an honorary degree on the most high-profile member of the Canada's billion-dollar publishing industry, Jack McClelland, who delivered a convocation address to SFU graduates in June.

[Autumn / BCBW 1988]

Lorimer Receives Gray Campbell Award
Press Release (2008)

Vancouver, March 12, 2008:

For all of his contribution to the book publishing industry in BC, The Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC) is pleased to present the Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Rowland Lorimer for his outstanding contribution to our industry.

The Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award is presented annually by the Association of Book Publishers of BC to recognize the importance of the many individuals who comprise the book industry; their energy and creativity are essential to the continued creation and dissemination of books that tell our stories.

The award is made in the name of Gray Campbell who, with his wife Eleanor Campbell, pioneered regional publishing with Gray’s Publishing, which he established in 1962. Gray’s went on to publish many significant books including Doukhobor Daze, The Dangerous River, The Pacific Gardener and The Salmon People. Gray Campbell had a feel for a good story and an instinct for ferreting out important manuscripts. Gray’s Publishing is perhaps best known for M. Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time, a much beloved BC classic; George Clutesi’s fables of the Tse-Shaht People, Son of Raven, Son of Deer; and Wildflowers of British Columbia by Lewis J. Clark which remains the definitive guide to BC’s flora.

Gray Campbell demonstrated that books by our writers about our people, resources, history and literature are culturally important and economically viable. He paved the way for the many fine publishers operating in British Columbia today. In June 2000, the BC book industry, his many friends, family and colleagues were deeply saddened to learn that Gray Campbell had passed away. The ABPBC hopes this award will continue to honour his legacy.

In the Toronto-centred Canadian publishing world, suggesting that a national centre for studies of the industry be established on the west coast of Canada was a provocative and audacious idea. Dr. Rowland Lorimer, Professor of Communications at Simon Fraser University, proposed just that and in 1987 became the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing’s (CCSP) founding Director. Housed at Simon Fraser University, CCSP is “dedicated to the development of publishing in Canada and internationally”. With the establishment of such an important institution in British Columbia, Lorimer shifted the focus for Canadian publishing westward attracting scholars, researchers, students and fellow publishers to our backyard and invigorating our community in the process.

Dr. Rowland Lorimer has worked quietly and behind the scenes but he has had a considerable impact on the book publishing industry in the province. His work at the CCSP has provided important research on the industry, which has led to essential government support for the BC publishers. As well his work has provided the industry with a better understanding of our markets, book-buying habits and business practices. As a professor of Communications and founder of the Masters in Publishing program at SFU, he has fostered a generation of publishing students providing educated, bright, savvy and knowledgeable publishing professionals to our companies. He is an innovative researcher who early recognized that database software would revolutionize how publishers run their businesses. He didn’t just write scholarly papers on the subject but was directly involved in the development of PExOd (The Publishers Extensible Online Database), working with publishers on the ground to ensure its value to the industry. As a scholar he has produced over 50 articles and 30 commissioned report, 5 books as well as articles and contributions to multi-media projects.

-- Association of Book Publishers of B.C.

Howard White Introduces Rowland Lorimer
Speech (2008)

Howard White’s introductory remarks for Rowland Lorimer receiving the 2008 Gray Campbell Award:

I first got to know Rowly in a completely serendipitous way. It had nothing to do with books. After a brief, unproductive exposure to higher learning at UBC, I moved back to the bush in 1970 and found it crawling with hippies. They were mostly from the US except for one group that was from Winnipeg. They had all been to the U of M together and they all knew this guy Rowly. As I got to know them better, I heard more about this friend who had deigned to turn on, tune in and drop out and was still off somewhere unpleasant beating the books and pursuing a career in the social sciences. There was quite a debate about whether he should be admired or pitied. The general consensus was that he was a nice guy and a bright guy but his energies were being sadly misdirected.

This was not unlike the reaction of the publishing community 20 years later when Rowly turned up in Vancouver wanting to start the centre for publishing.

I often wondered what made Rowly such a determined supporter of books and all the processes associated with their making. A lot of people were tempted to link it to his brother Jim, who is reputed to have made the first Canadian book with pages of moosehide back in the days before the Canada Council. I never gave this thesis much credit because I know the Lorimers are typical brothers, which does not support the assumption that if brother one does a thing, the likelihood of brother two doing the same thing is in any way increased. Quite the opposite. There’s got to be a better explanation.

One day back when the BEC used to be the CBA and it used to occasionally set up in places like Winnipeg, I discovered that better explanation. A very chatty middle aged lady showed up at our booth and started talking my leg off. She was wearing the wrong colour of tag, a seller, not a buyer, but she was the only warm body I’d had at our booth all day so I was happy to let her talk. It turned out there wasn’t much she didn’t know about the Canadian publishing scene--a lot more than me—and she spoke of it in a motherly kind of way, as if all these struggling publishers were her own wayward children. I hadn’t sold a book in two days and was quite ready to be mothered. She immediately took pity on me and straightened out my display, explained the role of the catalogue at book fairs and other basics that were lacking in my approach at that time, and offered to be my distributor in Winnipeg. This was Mrs. Lorimer, mother of Rowly and Jim. Ever since meeting her I have never been in any doubt where both Rowly and Jim got the idea that books are something worth devoting your life to.

Rowly of course did it his way. Rowly is a thinker. He is such a thinker that sometimes his thoughts come out all piled one on top of the other and ordinary mortals trying to keep can start to feel a little like Charlie Chaplin on the assembly line in Modern Times. He is also an enabler and a networker who works collaboratively so his hand doesn’t always show in the initiatives he starts. I am not sure exactly what role he played in rescuing the Book and Magazine summer school from Banff and establishing in Vancouver, but I think it’s safe to say if he hadn’t been here it probably wouldn’t have happened. When he first started talking about a centre for publishing studies here a lot of the more bloody minded publishers (a description which doesn’t leave out many publishers) kind of looked askance. Publishers generally feel if there is ten spare cents and ten spare minutes it should go directly into their own publishing program. The big picture is saved for the annual retreat, but unfortunately we are too busy making more books to go to the retreat, so the big picture gets lost. But when the system falters or we need to deal with a new government that thinks culture should be self-financing, we find ourselves in desperate need of someone who understands the big picture and who can articulate that picture to the world. Since 1989 he wrote his first of many book publishing studies, “Book Publishing Publishing in BC”, that someone, at least here in BC, has been Rowly Lorimer. And the publishing Centre he envisioned and primarily built out here on the western frontier has made has already had a profound impact on Canadian book publishing, though that is nothing to the impact it will have in time.

There are not too many ways that the Canadian publishing landscape can be said to have changed for the better in the past 20 years, but Rowly in his genial, unobtrusive but persistent way has been responsible for a major one.

Of course, we in the book world only see one facet of Rowly’s many-faceted career. Books are just one of his hobbies. He has also taken a vigorous interest in magazine publishing, and has had a hand in a helping them move into the online world. If you’ve ever looked up a BC author on ABC Bookworld, you have benefited from this innovative work. In his day job he has forged a distinguished scholarly career in communications and Canadian studies, writing fifty papers, 30 commissioned reports, five books and editing scholarly journals in various fields.

I was a little alarmed a few years ago when I noticed Rowly’s formidable energies start to be diverted into the winemaking business, but I was reassured lately to learn that he had cut back on his grape growing activities. He said he found the profit margin too thin to hire the help he needed to do the necessary work. I know the publishers in the room are all saying to themselves, “what’s so bad about that?” But that just goes to show why we need a guy like Rowly.

Congratulations, Rowly on receiving the Gray Campbell Award for 2008. Your mom would be proud.

-- author and publisher Howard White

Ultra Libris (ECW $34.95)
Article (2012)

Okay, so any book subtitled policy, technology and the Creative Economy of Book Publishing is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s fascinating, nonetheless, to read Rowland Lorimer’s Ultra Libris (ECW $34.95) and get a blow-by-blow summation of how the heck “The Canadian Publishers,” M&S, lost their footing, and ended up being owned by Random House, a multi-national. How on earth did the Canadian government allow Random House to acquire the portion of ownership ceded to University of Toronto by philanthropic M&S owner and would-be savior Avie Bennett without paying a cent! Well, they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Lorimer’s correspondence with Bennett and Random House’s Brad Martin has gleaned more than anyone in the press can glean, and it’s still a mystery.
Co-creator of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing with Anne Cowan, Lorimer has provided a thorough account of how Canadian publishing has evolved from the Massey Commission and the Ontario Royal Commission on Book Publishing, and how it is now dis-evolving due to megalithic Chapters/Indigo, eroding government concern and changes in technology. The book concludes with an analysis of three major technological trajectories that are shaping the future of book publishing and the future of ideas.

This is a necessary book for anyone who knows that M&S stands for McClelland & Stewart.

One day after B.C.-born publisher Douglas & McIntyre filed for bankruptcy protection, Rowland Lorimer was interviewed for CBC Radio by Rick Cluff on October 23, 2012.

“As I said in my recently published book, Ultra Libris, I’m not at all surprised that the company is up for sale. I think the company has been up for sale for about six months.
“I think the company filing for [bankruptcy] protection is a tactical move so that it paves the way for the possibility of foreign owners like HarperCollins, its distributor, to take over the company...”

Douglas & McIntyre has accumulated debts of $6,265,250.68 in keeping with a statement of insolvency signed on October 21, 2012.The Bowra Group Inc. is now the designated Trustee pursuant to Subsection 50.4(1) of the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act.

“This is the last, large Canadian-owned trade book company to go down. McClelland & Stewart just went down last year...

“Toronto and Ontario set themselves up, beginning back in the mid-90s…. to be a cultural capital, equal to New York, Paris, London, and so on…. So the government of Ontario has been ensuring there is not only a lot of support for all cultural industries but also a stable economic climate for them to thrive. It’s really highly competitive between provinces. B.C. has followed to a certain extent, but there is not nearly the same support in B.C. as there is in Ontario.

“So it’s been very difficult. It’s a miracle, actually, that D&M survived as long as it did in B.C. But there’s no doubt that Ontario wants to be the centre of publishing even more than it already is. That means, again, B.C. publishers will be publishing more British Columbia books, locally interesting books, and a few Canadian titles, as well.
“I don’t see a big change in that.”

[BCBW 2012]

Ultra Libris
Publisher's Promo (2012)

In a thorough exploration of Canada’s book industry, Ultra Libris provides a historical backdrop to understand modern events in book publishing. From the Massey Commission (1952) and the Ontario Royal Commission on Book Publishing (1971–72) to the explosion of national book publishing in the 1970s and the industry–government sparring over the next 30 years, Lorimer elucidates the necessary conditions for Canadian authors to thrive and for book publishers to contribute to Canadian culture.

While industry and government policy both focused on national survival in the face of globalization in the period from 1970 to ’90, Ultra Libris documents how, beginning in the mid-’90s, Ontario established an emphasis on financial stability for the cultural sector accompanied by stimulants to encourage vigorous participation in domestic and international markets. Coincident with that came an embrace of technology as both a business catalyst and transformative medium for creative expression, which held the potential to change the nature of book publishing and human understanding. In these contexts — technology and a growing creative economy — Ultra Libris concludes with a discourse on the future of books and book publishing in Canada and the world.