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Press Gang Publishers

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Press Gang Publishers

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Press Gang Publishers was a feminist printing press publishing quality trade paperback books -- fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art -- primarily by Canadian women authors and artists. Their non-fiction books addressed such social issues as the treatment of women by the mental health system, recovery from childhood sexual abuse, lesbian identity, homophobia and censorship, and women in conflict with the criminal justice system. Press Gang authors won numerous awards for their work. Press Gang Publishers evolved from a feminist printing and publishing collective of the same name. The original Press Gang was a small collective of men and women who incorporated under British Columbia's Companies Act as Press Gang Publishers Ltd. in April 1970. By 1974, the collective had become a women-only, feminist and anti-capitalist printshop, with paid and volunteer workers. Press Gang published its first book under its own imprint in 1976, a collection of essays entitled "Women Look at Psychiatry." Over the years, printing and publishing activities increasingly diverged, and in 1982 Press Gang established a separate collective to manage the publishing operations. In 1989 the separation was completed when the two collectives formally became distinct legal and corporate entities, Press Gang Printers Ltd. and Press Gang Publishers Feminist Cooperative. The two organizations, however, remained closely associated. In 1993 Press Gang Printers ceased to exist due to economic pressues in the printing trade and on their clientele (grassroots, community organizations). Full-time staff members of Press Gang Publishers included managing editor Barbara Kuhne; financial manager Della McCreary; and art director/production manager Val Speidel. Paula Clancy and Nancy Pollak also served on the Press Gang Board. Because of changes in the book publishing industry and the book selling marketplace, smaller publishers such as Press Gang faced difficult times. In 2000, Press Gang formed an alliance with Polestar Publishers of Victoria and issued a joint catalogue. Shortly thereafter, Polestar was purchased by Raincoast Books. In 2002, Press Gang Publishers declared bankruptcy after thirty years as a major independent feminist publisher. Some of their titles are still distributed by Raincoast Books and by Lazara Press.

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