The Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award was established in 2001 to recognize the contribution made to the publishing industry in British Columbia by publisher, editor and consultant James Jardine Douglas.
The award is presented to an active BC book publishing company that has earned the respect and applause of the community of publishers for a specific publishing project, an extraordinary contribution to the BC publishing community, and/or its extended commitment to excellence in publishing.
Scottish-born Jim Douglas had many careers: hotel owner, dairy farmer and engineer, but his main interest was books. In 1957 he started a publishers’ agency in Vancouver to market Canadian books throughout western Canada. After a brief stint as a book sales rep for McClelland & Stewart in the early 1960s, he returned to his agency work representing most Canadian books then available.
He founded his company J.J. Douglas in 1970 as a national book distributor, and entered the publishing field by releasing a cookbook. Soon the company would evolve at the forefront of publishing books about First Nations, as well as guidebooks and histories. J.J. Douglas became Douglas & McIntyre in 1979 as former McClelland & Stewart sales representative Scott McIntyre became an overt presence in management. Jim Douglas sold majority shares to Scott McIntyre in 1982. The company became an imprint of a consortium, D&M Publishers, often touted as the largest English-language publishing company outside Ontario, until it was purchased by Harbour Publishing in 2013.
As a publisher, Jim Douglas’ company represented editorial excellence, marketing savvy and confidence that regionally developed titles had a place in the international market. With a philosophy to publish for backlist, he developed a strong regional, national and international list that included many important Aboriginal titles, guidebooks and histories and later also included educational titles.
Jim Douglas also worked to professionalize the industry as President of both the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Association of Book Publishers of BC, and as a consultant to the book industry.
“Publishers are vastly more sophisticated than they were when I started,” he once said, “and while that is due to the efforts of our associations and our governments, I am as proud of having played a part in this, as I am of the books that I published.”
Jim Douglas’ business acumen, his passion for the making and selling of books, and his contributions to publishing associations have inspired many publishers who have followed him.