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Karen Brochu has been named Publisher at House of Anansi Press and Douglas Richmond has been named Editorial Director. Both will assume their new roles in July.House of Anansi Press

House of Anansi Press has elevated two internal staff to become its publisher and editorial director, ending four months of uncertainty about the future of one of Canada’s most storied independent book publishers.

President Semareh Al-Hillal said Tuesday that Karen Brochu, its vice-president of sales and marketing, would become publisher in July. Douglas Richmond, a senior editor who’s previously edited for HarperCollins Canada and the University of Toronto Press, will become Anansi’s editorial director.

Anansi’s leadership announcement came less than a day before its most recent publisher, Leigh Nash, revealed Wednesday morning that she would be launching a new publishing house called Assembly Press with her husband Andrew Faulkner. It will publish fiction, non-fiction and poetry, with Nash as its publisher. Mr. Faulkner, a literary arts organizer, will take the role of strategist, while Debby de Groot, who also left a full-time role at Anansi this year, will handle communications.

The back-to-back announcements provided clarity about the future of one of Canada’s most prominent independent publishing houses and its well-regarded former publisher after months of mystery and three years of turnover.

Longtime Anansi publisher Sarah MacLachlan retired in June 2020. Her first replacement was Bruce Walsh, who’d been the publisher of University of Regina Press, but he stepped down nearly a year later after struggling with what he’s called an unexpected illness.

In early 2022, Anansi announced that Nash, publisher of the independent house Invisible Publishing, would take over Anansi. But Nash said this past February, again barely a year later, that she would resign as of April and continue to work with Anansi on a freelance basis. Amplified by Nash’s sudden departure, the constant top-rank reshuffling has left many people in Canadian publishing wondering how the acclaimed publishing house would return to stability.

Anansi found its answer in Brochu, who becomes the fourth person to hold the title of publisher this decade. The former president of the Ontario Book Publishers Organization, Brochu previously worked in educational publishing at John Wiley & Sons.

Scott Griffin, Anansi’s owner, hailed her “creativity and vast understanding of the Anansi list” in a press release, while Al-Hillal praised Brochu’s knowledge of the Canada and U.S. markets for trade books.

Richmond has worked with authors including Jonathan Garfinkel, Louise Hare and Melanie Raabe. His work spans both fiction and non-fiction, and Al-Hillal said in the press release that he “instinctively considers the Anansi list as a whole.”

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