Canada's first book club was started in 1928 when the T. Eaton Company LTD offered its customers "a selective literary service." A committee of literary authorities made a monthly selection of titles - sold to the membership at an average price of $2.00 - which was announced in advance of publication. Although the Eaton Book Club at one time had 5000 members, it lasted only 4 years.
The Readers Club of Canada, launched by Peter and Carol Martin in 1959, was the only book club in Canada to offer its members an entirely Canadian book selection. When the club got into financial difficulty in 1978, it was sold to New Leaf, the holding company that owned Saturday Night magazine. New Leaf president Ed Cowan ran the club for 3 years. Substantial investments in promotion failed to raise the club's membership from 6000 to a target 20 000, and it was eventually closed down by Saturday Night's next owner, Norman Webster.
The Book Club Division of Doubleday Canada first recruited members for its book clubs, including The Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club, in 1944. With some 250 000 members in Canada (1987), the club offers a wide selection of titles - 16 times a year - at discounts ranging from 10% to 50% off list price. An average of 125 Canadian titles are selected annually by an international editorial committee.
The New York-based Book-of-the-Month Club has served Canadian members since its founding in 1926. It publishes a separate catalogue for Canada and offers Canadian members, numbering about 100 000 in 1987, about 100 Canadian titles in the 14 annual mailings.
Scholastic TAB Publications Ltd, also based in the US, operates book clubs for preschoolers up to high-schoolers out of its marketing division, which orchestrates mailings into the classroom and the home. Approximately 15% of their offerings are Canadian titles.