New Brunswick unveils new provincial book policy

At first glance, I brushed this aside. But upon reflection, I think there may be some merit here. Economic development has two tracks. The short term track is about trying to leverage what we have now for short term business investment attraction and good job creation. The long term track is about building a province that is a natural magnet for business investment and human capital. We aren’t very good at either as history shows.

So where does support for the local book publishing industry come in?

I think we need to promote excellence. We need to find our niche but at some level we need to promote excellence. I think this has a long term effect on the community/provincial attitute. When we see the sports, arts, culture, etc. with very few NBers being competitive at a national (let alone international) level, I think that contributes to this malaise we see amongst the populace.

I have called for the attraction of more media business. World class documentary production here in New Brunswick and other media that would slowly raise the awareness of the provine outside the borders. That got hammered down.

I have called for a strategy that looks at the arts and culture sector for its economic growth potential and that doesn’t get much play.

Maybe investing $550,000 per year to promote local authors will start to incubate a bit of a writing/critical thinking segment in society. And maybe, just maybe, instead of always looking back to dissect the complexities of our past – some of our writers will turn their minds to dreaming a better future.

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0 Responses to New Brunswick unveils new provincial book policy

  1. nbt says:

    There’s nothing wrong with promoting Culture and local authors (publishers), but don’t do it with government subsidies.

    You just have to look at the Cultural Capital program by the feds to realize that many of these things not only have a short life span (and are not sustainable or realistic), they are ill-though out. Mostly b/c they are done with other ppls $$$.

    They be better off figure out a way to get private industry on their side in promotion of a longterm, viable industry.

  2. mikel says:

    The link is pretty instructive. You can’t promote a local book with no money, and there is no money to promote local books. It’s the private industry that was after the government to get more involved-in order to BUILD a long term viable industry.

    If you want to see a program that works, its not government putting money in, its by government regulation. Canadian music was at its strongest when the canadian content rules were most strict. FORCE the media to support local artists, and you build an industry.

    In NB you can do that by forcing Chapters and book sellers to feature local artists somewhere prominently-not hidden at the back. It actually doesn’t take much work, I remember one NB folk writer who had a book signing where people were lined up for autographs like he was Stephen King or something.

    But of course no governments have those kinds of balls anymore, so you HAVE to put money into it. You already HAVE ‘private industry on their side’-just like private industry is on side in the forestry sector-with all the obvious problems.

    But what exactly does ‘pursue excellence’ mean? If government provides the cash, don’t expect lots of books critical of government. The problem is that in english NB there is really no lobby and no interest in local culture-you’ll notice that it was primarily an acadian group pushing this. If there was an english market, they’d be up with this group lobbying the government. Instead, its left to ‘the private market’ and of course thats why there are problems.

    As for the one third going to libraries, you don’t need money, you need to get libraries out from under the thumb of government. New Brunswick is the only province where libraries are controlled directly by the provincial government. I know of libraries who have looked at NB and just shook their heads. In order to get a job as a librarian you have to go through government hiring, and obviously Fredericton is going to have different ideas of local culture than a region. Culture is ALWAYS local- NOT provincial, New Brunswick is proof of that. So when you have a central government trying to make a ‘provincial’ culture then obviously it doesn’t work. If libraries were controlled locally then they could build the cultural literature, and the province would benefit by the aggregate. Here in Waterloo the Historical Society puts out a journal every month with six or seven articles on local history. I can’t even find one for the entire province of NB.

    It would be interesting to see what the other recommendations from the group which says ‘this is a start’ are. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t hurt, but notice they announce the money and add ‘no details as of yet’.

    On that note, an outside opinion is helpful-at virtually every city I’ve lived in outside NB has a big gap when it comes to the section for New Brunswick. There is always reams of books on Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, even PEI, but hardly any on New Brunswick.

    There are the usual ones on Premiers, but thats about it. Apart from the ‘big three’ historians who wrote virtually every historical book on the province, there isn’t much. And there are usually more books on acadia than there are on ‘english NB’, adding to the rumour that there isn’t actually any NB culture AT ALL outside of the french. French books and depressing stories about the miramichi seem to be it.

    Finally, to point a finger at Irvings I’ve also never seen a New Brunswick newspaper at any library in any city I’ve lived in-including university libraries. I think the Toronto library carries them, but that’s it. I can even read PEI newspapers and ones from hick towns in Manitoba-but not a single one from New Brunswick.