OMDC SUCCESS STORY: ANNICK PRESS
Loved by children and young adults, Annick Press has been publishing innovative picture book, fiction and non-fiction for three decades. Generations of Canadians have grown up with the works of beloved authors like Robert Munsch, Kathy Stinson, and Ruth Ohi. However, the Canadian publishing house that made these writers household names might never have come into existence, had it not been for a conversation between founders Rick Wilks and Anne Millyard. Both lamented the dearth of literature available for children that reflected Canadian sensibilities and relevance to their lives. They decided to do something about it – not to found a publishing house, but to publish one or two books. The books did well – so well, in fact that they decided to keep going. By the time they realized just what they’d gotten themselves into, they were already hooked.
In its earliest days, Annick had to deal with the catch-22 of Canadian publishing: that because the industry was small, there wasn’t a great deal of support for Canadian writers – and therefore there wasn’t much writing happening. It was a vicious cycle, but the prominence some Canadian writers have gained through Annick and other publishers has changed the landscape. Millyard and Wilks worked out a distribution and publicity plan at a time when very little infrastructure for that existed. Lacking capital, they relied on grants and supports to allow them to undertake projects to keep going.
OMDC provided some of this support through several programs. But what Wilks is most grateful for is the OMDC’s understanding of industry challenges and their commitment to help Annick succeed. In recent years, OMDC support has allowed Annick to develop and finance the kinds of smart, innovative marketing plans that get attention – author videos, whiteboards for classrooms, and other multimedia communications that reach audiences. The company simply could not have effectively taken its message to youth, booksellers and school and library professionals without the support of the OMDC.
Annick has found a formula for success, but the company is aware that things change quickly in the publishing world. They have expanded into digital publishing, although printed books still remain at the core of their business.
Annick is adamant – they want to offer great storytelling. They don’t want anyone to read one of their books because they have to; they want someone to read because it moves them; it enriches their lives and contributes to their feeling that they can contribute and work for change. There will always be demand for great stories – that is the one constant in publishing. And their commitment to providing stories that resonate is why Annick Press will be publishing great literature for a long time to come.
“There is an essential human connection with reading and if we can get it right, we can get so many things right. Storytelling enriches our lives and helps us better understand who we are. We truly believe that reading is the way to build self-awareness, self-confidence, and a stronger sense of self. These are the beliefs that have inspired us to keep going.”
—Rick Wilks, Director, Annick Press