This longtime Vancouver book publisher has had to move three times in 10 months


Brian Kaufman’s LinkedIn page lists a knowledge base in copywriting, publishing, writing and journalism.

In other words, Kaufman is a words guy through and through.

That comes with the territory after three decades in publishing.

And so when the topic of real estate comes up, the head honcho of Anvil Press has no shortage of choice descriptors:

“A seething cesspool of developer speculation and greed” is one particularly hot take.  

Kaufman’s publishing house is changing postal codes for the third time this year, having fallen victim to a new kind of Vancouver special — sketchy leases, sketchy development plans and sketchy rents.

Anvil Press began 2019 in False Creek Flats, a neighbourhood Kaufman worked in for 14 years. He bookends the year with two moves in four months in South Vancouver. Anvil Press’s newest digs will be a third of the size of its False Creeks Flats location and twice the rent.

“It feels like we’ve been pushed out of our neighbourhood,” Kaufman said. “We’re still barely a Vancouver publisher, but we don’t feel like we’re operating out of our hood, or where our roots are, anymore.”

Anvil Press has been a Vancouver-owned company for three decades as of next year. There were a series of moves in the early days, but they were minor relocations of six blocks here, 10 blocks there in Mount Pleasant.

The old digs on East First Avenue became home base in 2004. Kaufman described the area as pretty desolate at the time, save for some auto repair shops and a few manufacturing outfits. Walking alone at night wasn’t the best idea.

That began to shift around 2014. Red Truck Brewery’s arrival in the neighbourhood was the canary in the coalmine. Art galleries punted from South Granville started to move in, then came the condos, followed by the new Emily Carr campus.

Kaufman knew trouble was afoot.

“It was around that time where you felt that the neighbourhood was changing,” Kaufman said.

The longtime owner of the building Kaufman shared with Talonbooks sold around the time Red Truck arrived. Rent went up immediately in order to keep up with property taxes, Kaufman was told.

This year’s lease renewal included a clause to double his rent, so off to South Vancouver Kaufman went.

Anvil’s stay near the Vancouver Transfer Station was short lived, the result of a sublet that ended because of bigtime rent increases.

So now Kaufman and his two coworkers move to yet another joint near the southern most point on Granville Street.

The added kick in the crotch?

He has to move four days before Christmas.

“A lot of people are leaving or folding up the tent and leaving Vancouver altogether,” Kaufman said. “You feel like you’re getting to a breaking point.”

Moving out of Vancouver isn’t really an option Kaufman wants to pursue. His other project, subTerrain Magazine, is dependent on city grant money. If he leaves Vancouver, about $12,000 in subsidies goes up in smoke.

Kaufman says he’s looked at industrial property in all corners of the city, and sticker shock has become the norm.

“Vancouver has gone completely crazy everywhere,” Kaufman laments. “It doesn’t really matter where you are. We were looking at places down by the Fraser River and all the way to Burnaby and everybody wants downtown rates.”