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Award-winning, Calgary-based literary publisher Freehand Books has a new owner as of January 1, 2021: book-publishing veteran Glenn Rollans, who also owns Brush Education, a higher-education publisher based in Edmonton.
Freehand will move forward with the same mandate that has made it a success from the beginning: to publish excellent literary books by Canadian authors. The change in ownership brings no changes to staffing, distribution, or sales representation, and Freehand’s commitment and obligations to its books and authors also remain unchanged.
Rollans and the Freehand team extend their gratitude and appreciation to JoAnn McCaig, who was instrumental in founding Freehand thirteen years ago and who had owned Freehand since 2016, for her vision and dedication to excellent publishing. “I have full confidence in Glenn’s passion for and commitment to publishing and I know I am leaving the company in good hands,” said McCaig after completing the sale. “That said, this is a bittersweet moment for me. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to help build Freehand over the past thirteen years and am very proud of all that we have achieved.”
Rollans responded, “I’m very thankful for the vision that brought Freehand into existence, for all the work done since, and for all the support that has brought Freehand to this day. I look forward to contributing to Freehand’s achievements, and to continuing to earn the trust and confidence of its amazing and justly celebrated authors. I’m grateful for and excited by the chance to work with Freehand’s exceptional team: Managing Editor Kelsey Attard, Senior Editor Deborah Willis, and the members of the Editorial Board.”
Freehand Books was established in 2007 as the literary imprint of the academic publisher Broadview Press. Freehand has published more than sixty-five titles to date—an aesthetically diverse, award-winning collection of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction, including Marina Endicott’s Giller-nominated novel Good to a Fault; Giller winner Ian William’s inventive poetry collection Personals; and Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung’s Homes: A Refugee Story, which was a finalist on Canada Reads and for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Freehand was named Publisher of the Year at the 2019 Alberta Book Publishing Awards and has won or been nominated for more than 150 national and regional awards, including recently winning the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, the Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Fiction, and the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction.
Freehand will publish three books in the upcoming spring 2021 season. The Bridge: Writing Across the Binary is a memoir from novelist Keith Maillard, about growing up nonbinary in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Big Reader is a dazzling collection of essays from Susan Olding, about memory, loss, and our relationship with books. And The Lover, the Lake is a translation by Susan Ouriou of Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau’s L’amant du lac, a spellbinding, poetic novel celebrating Indigenous sensuality and romance.
Rollans now owns Freehand Books Inc. through his holding company, Brush Publishing and Media Services Inc., which also owns Brush Education Inc.
Freehand looks forward to their continued contribution to Canadian literature in this next chapter of their history.