Chapter 4: Case Study

Ryerson Paperbacks

Ryerson Press advertised the launch of its quality paperback reprint series, Ryerson Paperbacks, in the November-December 1966 issue of English Canada’s book-trade journal Quill and Quire.  The advertisement listed the first ten books in the series, an eclectic mix of non-fiction titles that ran the gamut: from J.A. Lower’s Canada: An Outline History through G.F.O. Smith’s The Man Robert Burns and Desmond Pacey’s Ten Canadian Poets to J.E. Smyth’s The Basis of Accounting. By 1970, the series would exceed thirty titles, and contain a blend of non-fiction, journalism, and fiction drawn from the firm’s backlist, with Canadiana dominating its offerings.

Early Canadian Glass, front cover

In introducing the reprint series, Ryerson emulated earlier initiatives by several Toronto-based publishers, including: the New Canadian Library and the Carleton Library, launched respectively in 1958 and 1963 by McClelland and Stewart; Clarke Irwin’s Canadian Paperbacks, commenced in 1964; and Oxford in Canada Paperbacks, initiated in 1965. Quality paperbacks had been a phenomenon in English-language book publishing in North America since the 1950s, when it became clear that the educational sector provided a viable market for more serious works produced in paperbound editions. Although most publishers produced these works in “pocket-book” size, Ryerson diverged, issuing its paperback series in an 20.32 cm x 15.87 cm format; while still smaller than the dimensions of a standard hardback, Ryerson Paperbacks stood out physically from their Canadian competitors in the quality-paperback field.

Agaguk, front cover

In issuing its titles for the series in 1967, Ryerson kept the release rate at ten, but incorporated some fiction titles for the first time, including Hugh Hood’s Flying a Red Kite and an English-language translation of Yves Thériault’s Agaguk. In 1968, a year in which only eight titles appeared, two authors dominated: Hugh Garner, with three titles – Silence on the Shore, Storm Below, and Hugh Garner’s Best Stories – and four by journalist Gregory Clark – War Stories, Hi There!, Greg’s Choice, and The Best of Gregory Clark. The reprints issued in the next two years dwindled severely and focussed on non-fiction. J.E. Smyth’s The Accounting Model, which appeared in 1970, may have been the final title in the series. This work was a revised and updated version of Smyth’s earlier The Basis of Accounting, which had numbered among the earliest releases in the series back in 1966.


List of Ryerson Paperbacks 

No. Author Title Year Genre
1 J.A. Lower Canada: An Outline History 1966 Non-fiction
2 J.M. Shaw Christian Doctrine 1966 Non-fiction
3 J.E. Smyth The Basis of Accounting 1966 Non-fiction
4 A.H. Easton 50 North 1966 Non-fiction
5 Desmond Pacey Ten Canadian Poets 1966 Non-fiction
6 G.F.O. Smith The Man Robert Burns 1966 Non-fiction
7 Nan Shipley Anna and the Indians 1966 Non-fiction
8 A.L. Burt The United States, Great Britain and British North America 1966 Non-fiction
9 Charles Camsell Son of the North 1966 Non-fiction
10 Eileen Jenness The Indian Tribes of Canada 1966 Non-fiction
11 Michael Bliss, ed. Canadian History in Documents 1966 Non-fiction
12 Gerald Stevens Early Canadian Glass 1967 Non-fiction
13 R.A. Fillmore Green Thumbs 1967 Non-fiction
14 C.T. Currelly I Brought the Ages Home 1967 Non-fiction
15 M.J. Bird The Town that Died 1967 Non-fiction
16 Yves Thériault Agaguk 1967 Fiction
17 Desmond Pacey, ed. A Book of Canadian Stories 1967 Fiction
18 Hugh Hood Flying a Red Kite 1967 Fiction
19 A.R.M. Lower This Most Famous Stream 1967 Non-fiction
20 William Colgate Canadian Art 1967 Non-fiction
21 Desmond Pacey Creative Writing in Canada 1967 Non-fiction
22 Gregory Clark The Best of Gregory Clark 1968 Journalism
23 Gregory Clark Greg’s Choice 1968 Journalism
24 Gregory Clark Hi, There! 1968 Journalism
25 Gregory Clark War Stories 1968 Journalism
26 Hugh Garner Hugh Garner’s Best Stories 1968 Fiction
27 Hugh Garner Silence on the Shore 1968 Fiction
28 Hugh Garner Storm Below 1968 Fiction
29 H.H. Walsh Christian Church in Canada 1968 Non-fiction
30 F.M. Salter The Art of Writing 1971 Non-fiction
31 J.H. Cranston Etienne Brulé 1969 Non-fiction
32 John Irving Mass Media in Canada 1969 Non-fiction
33 Michael Gnarowski /
Louis Dudek
The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada: Essential Articles on Contemporary Canadian Poetry in English 1970 Non-fiction
34 Edward McCourt The Canadian West in Fiction 1970 Non-fiction
35 John Gellner Canada in NATO 1970 Non-fiction
36 J.E. Smyth The Accounting Model 1970 Non-fiction