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Books Prizes – from Nobel to Giller – a boon to publishers

Writer Alice Munro, in Victoria on Friday, one day after being named this year’s Nobel laureate.

<240>John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

"It's not every day you get a Nobel Prize winner," says Brad Martin, the president and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada. So, on the day it did happen last month, Martin and his team ordered up extensive print runs for all of Alice Munro's books.

He says that Dear Life, the author's latest, has sold more than 50,000 copies in paperback since going on sale Oct. 8; another 40,000 were shipped to out-of-stock stores across the country last week. In total, Martin estimates that about 225,000 copies of Munro's books, including her backlist, have been shipped in the past month.

But the Nobel winner isn't the only domestic author enjoying a boom season: After Canadian-born New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton won the Booker Prize, her publisher McClelland & Stewart quickly ordered up 20,000 more hardcover copies of The Luminaries.

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All of which is a prelude to Tuesday night's Giller Prize, whose winner is practically guaranteed to sell 40,000-50,000 copies by the end of the year.

Last week, the three publishers who have books in the running for this year's prize (House of Anansi Press, Doubleday Canada, HarperCollins Canada) were putting the finishing touches on the new designs of their book jackets. Tuesday night, one of them will be calling up their printer and telling them to roll the presses. The others will be hitting the open bar.

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