The unplanned meeting that gave rise to Self-Counsel Press, the pioneer publishing house for self-help law titles in North America, occurred in New Westminster, between the Dairy Queen and the library, at a bookstore called Select Books. That's where Diana Douglas was working when UBC articling law student Jack James entered with his newly self-published book, Divorce Guide for B.C. (1971). This was the world's first self-help divorce guide.

Although she was the daughter of Jim Douglas, founder of J.J. Douglas, soon to be Western Canada's best-known publishing house, Diana Douglas was not doing it Dad's way. She had just left behind a one-year stint milking cows on 120 acres near Duncan, and ended up selling her Select Books to join James in his new business venture. As partners in business, then in life, Douglas and James had the right book when they wanted to untie the knot.

Douglas secured full ownership of Self-Counsel Press in 1984 and, as a single mother with three children, she built a plethora of how-to titles into an empire of sorts-International Self-Counsel Press Ltd.-often considered the most consistently successful publishing enterprise in the province. Divorce Guide for B.C. represents a hugely important category-books that mainly impart useful information-and it was not only the basis for one of the country's most durable publishing enterprises, but also the start of a new genre: self-help law books.

There are hundreds of guidebooks, how-to books, or advice books from B.C. They seldom get reviewed, and they are ineligible for grants, but they are vital literature. Betty Pratt-Johnson's guide to scuba and skin diving in B.C. and Washington, 141 Dives (1976), went through eleven printings until it was updated and expanded to become two companion volumes in 1994, then revised again as 151 Dives (2007). Mary and David Macaree co-wrote 103 Hikes in Southwestern B.C. (1973) a classic regional title that has reputedly sold more than 100,000 copies and been reprinted six times. The Orca Books imprint in Victoria arose after its founder, Bob Tyrrell, an English teacher, self-published Island Pubbing (1984). Book distributor Nancy Wise of Kelowna and Marion Crook did everyone a favour by co-writing How to Self Publish and Make Money (1987).


Having self-published Divorce Guide for B.C., Jack James, a UBC articling student, walked into Select Books in New Westminster, between the Dairy Queen and the library, and met bookseller Diana Douglas in the early 1970s. Theirs was a guidebook romance. Although Douglas is the daughter of Jim Douglas, founder of J.J. Douglas, forerunner of Douglas & McIntyre, western Canada's best known publishing house, at the time she was leaving behind a one-year stint milking cows on 120 acres near Duncan. She wasn't doing it Dad's way. James and Douglas partnered in business, then marriage, then untied the knot. They knew how. She bought Self-Counsel Press in 1984. A single mom of three, Douglas built a plethora of how-to titles into an empire of sorts-International Self-Counsel Press Ltd-often considered the most consistently successful publishing enterprise in the province.

[For books of advice and guidance, see abcbookworld entries for Abramson, Arnold M.; Aiken, Sean; Aitken, Neil; Alei, Ariole; Anderson, Suzanne; Argent, Judith; Ashford, Mary-Wynne; Austen, Stephen; Bakas, Tania; Barlas, Aqlim; Batchelor, Bruce; Bell, Sarah; Belshaw, Cyril; Bendall, Pamela; Bennett, Guy; Bewsey, Susan; Bosworth, Brian; Brazier, Brendan; Brooke, Paula; Bruckner, Virginia; Buente, Gail; Burgess, Ann Carroll; Burich, Helen; Burnett, Bruce Ian; Cameron, Nancy J.; Cardinal, Maurice; Chang, Ginger; Charleson, Mary; Christian, Jean; Cochrane, Don; Cohee, Allison; Connelly, Dolly; Coombs, Ann; Copeland, Andy; Copeland, Kathy; Corbel, Eve; Corrigan, Boyd; Cottam, Kevin J.; Couper, Jim; Cramp, Beverly; Dalian, Eliza Mada; Davis, Akeela; Davis, Barry; Derbitsky, Harold; Diamond, Ruby; Dixon, Norma; Dobson, Charles; Donnelly, Louise Miki; DuMoulin, Barbara; Eaton, Diane; Eker, T. Harv; Ferguson, Julie H.; Ford, Collene L.; Foster-Walker, Mardi; Franklin, Jill (a.k.a. Satya Bharti); Frobb, Mark; Gannon, Lorraine; Garber, Anne; Giannone, Kelly; Gibson, Katherine; Goheen, Duncan; Goodwin, Margaret; Gordon, Donald; Gosse, Bonnie; Gothe, Jurgen; Gottberg, John; Green, Valerie; Greenwood, Michael; Griffiths, David; Gross, Jessica Berger; Gysi, Werner M.; Hall, Daryl; Hall, Scott; Harmon, Tanya; Heinrich, Linda; Helliwell, Tanis; Hempstead, Andrew; Hesse, Jurgen; Hickling, Meg; Hiebert, Bruce; Hister, Art; Holmes, Douglas; Horak, Wence; Hudson, Rick; Ince, John; Jamal, Azim; James, Dawn; James, Jesai; Jane, Kaycee; Janson, JoAnn; Jayhmes, Jasai; Jennings, Lynn; Johnson, Eileen Rickards; Jones, Vincent; Kaellis, Eugene; Keating, Kathleen; Keator, Glenn; Kenyon, Janice; Kimura, Manami; Kootnekoff, Jon-Lee; Kramer, Pat; Kuntz, Ted; Kyra, Suzanne; Lake, Kathrin; Latremouille, Louise; Lautsch, Brenda; Lawrence, Iain; Lee-Son, Jacqueline; Legault, Stephen; Leggo, Carl; Lewis, Jim; Lightfoot, Marge; Lim, Sylvia; Losier, Michael; Lydon, Christine; Malet-Veale, Decima; Mallard, Colin; Mapleton, David H.; Matthews, Carol; Mavrow, Cecilia; McArthur, Dannie; McBeath, Charleen; McCurdy, Diane; McFetridge, Grant; McGaw, Darry; McGuckin, Frances; McPhee, Harry; Meikle, Marg; Melina, Vesanto; Messier, René L.; Miller, Saul; Milton, Lorraine; Mina, Eli; Moshansky, Tim; Moskovitch, Deborah; Moulton, June Fuller; Mucalov, Janice; Munro, Deborah; Naiman, Linda; Nault, Kelly; O'Hara, Bruce; Obee, Bruce; Ogden, Frank; Ogden, Reg; Osing, Ray; Patterson-Sterling, Catherine; Pattison, Kenneth Manning; Paul, Kevin; Peterson, Lois J.; Petrie, Anne; Plant, Albert; Pocock, Christopher L.; Poteryko, Derek; Powell, Elinor D.U.; Rains, Elizabeth; Reeves, Nancy; Reid, Judith; Reigh, Maggie; Richardson, Pamela; Richardson, Ron; Rickwood, Lisa; Robbins, Emma Mae; Rosenbluth, Vera; Ryan, Liz Mitten; Sandborn, Calvin; Santiago, Geraldine; Schendlinger, Mary; Setter, Doug; Seyd, Jane; Shaw, Matthew; Sikundar, Sylvia; Skinner, David; Slade, Robert M.; Sosnowsky, Cathy; Stephens, Richard; Stewart, Gordon; Stewart, John Thomas; Strong, Kenneth V.; Sutherland, Jessie; Syberg-Olsen, Ebbe; Tait, Stephanie; Taylor, Debra; Thompson, Peggy; Thomson, Robert S.; Tillotson, Betty; Tully, Brock; Vesey, Maureen; Vincent, K. Louise; Wagar, Samuel; Walsh, Brian; Walter, Ryan; Welbanks, Douglas P.; Werschler, Terri; Wheatley, Tim; Williams, Nicole; Wilson, Colleen; Wilson, Tony; Woollam, Ray; Yap, James; Yu, Mei; Zimmerman, Lillian.] @2010.

[BCBW 2010]