A distributor of catalogues for Canadian art galleries is irate at what it sees as foreign interference in the country's publishing industry.
Art Books Canada of Montreal had an exclusive distribution deal with Saskatoon's Mendel Art Gallery, home to the current exhibit of paintings by Joni Mitchell. The gallery printed a deluxe hardcover book to commemorate the exhibit with 50 colour plates, a dustjacket and a retail price of $45.
Inexplicably, however, the gallery refused to send off copies of Voices: The Work of Joni Mitchell to Art Books, said Lawrence Boyle, president of Art Books. After being pressed, the gallery, Boyle said, informed him that they wanted Voices distributed only in art-gallery bookstores.
Boyle alleges that the gallery admitted it was acting with an eye on U.S. publishing company Random House, which is planning a coffee-table book on Mitchell's paintings in the next three to four years. Boyle was shipped 1,500 copies of the title two weeks ago after issuing a press release on the subject earlier this summer. The gallery, which could not be reached for comment, has terminated its distribution agreement with Art Books.
"There is a principle here over a public institution funded by Canadian taxpayers who at the request of a foreign multinational is not going to distribute its books," Boyle said.
Gallery director Gilles Herbert told the CBC yesterday that they are looking for a new distributor, but that the decision to terminate their contract with ABC is not related to the Joni Mitchell controversy.
The book has been available in Toronto bookstores. At David Mirvish Art Books, Voices has sold out, but the store is awaiting a new shipment direct from the gallery.