Publisher Profiles: Parkland Publishing fills a local guide book niche
by Collette Parks
Years ago I killed some time in the English-language travel guides section of an Amsterdam bookshop, waiting for the afternoon rain to pass. Young and on a strict budget, I quietly flipped through the pages. My attention settled on a small collection of Canadian guides and I curiously read the descriptions of my home.
Saskatchewan’s beauty has a charm that can be underestimated and overlooked. Luckily for us, Robin and Arlene Karpan are definitely paying attention.
Since 1998, Robin and Arlene, the duo that makes up Parkland Publishing, have been publishing Saskatchewan travel guides. Their award-winning and best-selling books help both local and outsider travellers discover the natural beauty of our humble home.
“The books we do are primarily although not exclusively on Saskatchewan, with an emphasis on travel-related guidebooks and photography. When we first got into it, there weren’t many travel guides on Saskatchewan. We wanted to fill a need in the market,” explains Robin.
The Great Saskatchewan Bucket List ($19.95) has definitely filled that need, being at the top of the best selling list in Saskatchewan every year since it was first published five years ago. Parkland has published numerous other books that have gone on to be best sellers and award winners. Their repertoire includes coffee table books, guide books for hiking trails and scenic driving, and trivia too.
The Photographer’s Guide to Saskatchewan ($24.95) is their newest book. Published last spring, it’s a new type of guide book. It’s filled with great places to go and the information needed for all photographers will all types of cameras to take spectacular photos. The Karpans have researched the best vantage points and the best time of day so you can enjoy and share the best parts of our province.
“We try to alert people to interesting things that are a little off the beaten track: secondary roads, things in the far north, and so on,” says Robin. “We like to not only talk about places, but to show them as well.”
After nearly 20 years as publishers, the Karpans have seen many changes in the industry. Some activities are getting easier, especially with changes in technology making professional-level software more accessible, “which actually makes projects more complicated,” Robin says with a laugh. Other things like distribution have changed significantly over the years. The introduction of eBooks hasn’t gone unnoticed, and Parkland does publish a few strategic titles electronically.