Douglas Gibson Books was the very first editorial imprint in Canada when
it was established in March 1986. Legend has it that Jack McClelland,
having just sold his company to Avie Bennett, advised him to lure Doug
Gibson away from Macmillan of Canada, where he had been Editorial
Director since 1974 and Publisher since 1979. By offering Gibson an
editorial imprint, plus the independence to run what was in effect a
one-man publishing house with no bureaucratic strings attached, Bennett
was able to entice him to join McClelland & Stewart.
The hope was that some of the authors who had worked with Gibson over
the years would choose to join him in this small "boutique" publishing
operation, where he took on only 5-10 books per year and devoted himself
to hands-on editing, choosing the jacket and all other details, and
supervising the book through the publishing process.
The plan worked brilliantly. The authors who chose to follow Gibson
from Macmillan were led by Alice Munro (The Progress of Love in 1986 was
the very first Douglas Gibson Book.) Soon the parade of authors
included W.O. Mitchell, Robertson Davies, Jack Hodgins, Donald Jack,
Mavis Gallant and so many others that Macmillan in a few years folded
its fiction publishing programme. The addition of authors such as these
to M&S's own already strong fiction list made for a very formidable
group of fiction writers.
In non-fiction the list soon included John Sawatsky, Andy Russell, Barry
Broadfoot, Myrna Kostash and Harold Horwood, among many others. Notable
among the new additions was Don Starkell, author of the classic Paddle
to the Amazon, while over time James' Houston (Memoirs of an Igloo
Dweller, and other titles) and Peter Gzowski (The Private Voice, and
other titles) asked to join the imprint.
In September 1988, when Adrienne Clarkson left M&S, Avie Bennett
persuaded Gibson to take over as Publisher of all McClelland & Stewart
books. The wide-ranging new responsibilities meant that Douglas Gibson
Books turned into a side-line. As a result Gibson devoted evening and
weekend work to three or four books a year, largely because current
Douglas Gibson Books authors expected and wanted the relationship to
Despite this cut-back in numbers, Douglas Gibson Books has over the
years amassed many prizes, including Governor-General's Awards and
Giller Prizes, and many of the titles remain in print year after year,
as the list below demonstrates.
Since 1988 Gibson has kept the annual list very small. To avoid any
conflict of interest with his role at M&S he encouraged many former
authors to join the main M&S list, notably people like Ken Dryden,
Guy Vanderhaeghe, Maggie Siggins, Robert Hunter, Michele Landsberg,
Jeffrey Simpson and Roy MacGregor.
On occasion he edited M&S books without adding them to his personal
imprint. Notable examples are the Memoirs of Pierre Trudeau and
Alistair MacLeod's books, No Great Mischief and Island.
In 2004, he returned to his imprint full-time as publisher of
Douglas Gibson Books, which now publishes five to ten books a year.
The imprint continues to represent Gibson's eclectic
personal interests in politics, history,
biography, high adventure, and fine fiction.