A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Just so I don’t forget, and in case anyone else is interested:

Nina Smart, publishing liaison librarian at Simon Fraser University, has a blog of informatiton resources for publishing.


CNN via Slashdot: Automatically Returned Audiobooks

On Slashdot there is an interesting story from CNN about some US libraries using Microsoft Media DRM to automatically return audiobooks that are overdue.

Essentially a patron borrows the title for 3 weeks or whatever the standard borrow time is. After 3 weeks, when the book is due, the patron must renew it or return it. If the book is not renewed or returned, the audiobook is unreadable because the encrypted file is no longer playable.

Here’s the CNN story.

Just yesterday James and I were talking about distribution models in a digital era and how technology is or will be used to protect copyright. (There are lots of things I’d like to say on copyright, but for the moment, let’s assume that we do want to protect copyright.)

The conversation came up in part because I came across this blog Freedom to Tinker, which had a link to a Princeton student’s thesis on the affect of filesharing on the music industry.

PDF: Music Sales in the Age of File Sharing

I haven’t had a chance to read all 73 pages, but the abstract notes that although filesharing had a negative affect on sales by the 15-24 age group, there was a positive affect on sales by older age groups, which resulted in an overall positive affect.

So what does this mean for books? Should we give away content? Should the above librarians not worry about encrypting audiobooks?

I sit on both sides of the fence at the moment.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Rhythm Bound—Tap Dance Hits Vancouver

Tonight I took Roxane Butterfly’s two workshop. She taught two classes for the West Coast Tap Dance Collective, a very fine organization.

Roxane was named Butterfly by legendary tapper Jimmy Slyde, who will be in Vancouver this weekend for the Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival. The festival weekend means hundreds of tap dancers and the best tappers in the world will be in this city. And, on Monday, they will be performing at the Playhouse.

$42 for adults and this is a 2-3 hour show, absolutely fantastic. These are the top dancers in the world, who rarely, if ever, share the stage in this way.

More photos of Roxane


Friday, August 26, 2005

OK Computer goes to the Blogs

Radiohead has a blog. Dead Air Space. I like the candid photos, but is that really a dog?

Forget 50 Cent, Amazon.com has short fiction for 49 cents

Amazon.com is way ahead of its fellow online book retailers. You can still buy the latest 50 Cent album, as well as cameras, phones, jewellery—bless their cotton socks—almost anything. Earlier this year you could also watch short films, and now you can buy short stories for 49 cents. Right, I forgot they also sell books.

Amazon announced this week Amazon Shorts. They are starting with 59 authors who’ve submitted short fiction, and Amazon is selling the stories for 49 cents each. You get a digital file. I haven’t bought one yet so I don’t know what it looks like.

Amazon Shorts web page

Categories include Literature and Fiction; Nonfiction and Essays; Biography and Memoirs; Maybe You Know ...; Mystery and Thrillers; and Editors’ Picks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The First Day of School

Powells.com has a fantastic newsletter. They’ve got book reviews, first editions that they flog, interviews, bestseller lists and great bits of personal information, like where their staff went on summer vacation. This month they also solicited 200-word essays and comments on the best/worst day of school, which got me thinking about first days of school.

As a girly girl, the first day of school always meant a new outfit. I wasn’t a fan of dresses, but I did accessorize at an early age. My fashion downfall occurred in second grade when I was still at the age when allowance only bought penny candies not ensembles.

The current fall fashions are forcing fashion flashbacks upon me: the browns, yellows and greens of the 70s. My first day of second grade my mother adorned me in relish green slacks and a mustard yellow turtleneck. I understand. She was a slave to the fashion mags of her time. But it was still wrong. And the rainbow belt? So misguided.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Fall Preview

The Fall book season is upon us! Fall seems to be busy for every industry, but September and October are particularly busy times in publishing. Lots of literary festivals, lots of marketing and pushing of the “hot books this fall.” Publisher spend most of the fall trying to get readers’ attention, hoping their top books will be remembered at Christmas time. Not sure whether that is misguided marketing or not, but it happens.

Based on advance reading copies, Quill’s Fall listings and the Globe and Mail, here are my Fall Picks. The disclaimer is that these are the books I want to read, not necessarily the ones that I think will be the hot books. I noticed a strong native theme in my picks. Not sure why that is.

Amazon Listmania: Monique’s Fall Picks

And what am I reading now? I was asked that today.

Bookmark Now by Kevin Smokler. Little disappointed that Kevinsmokler.com has not recently been updated. I found out after the fact that Kevin was in Vancouver talking to the SFU book immersion group. I would have loved to sit in on that discussion.

Also reading Seth Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars (and hoping that Darren Barefoot will remember to pass on Seth’s link about book publishing).

What do you think about book marketing? Do you read reviews? See book ads in the papers, here about books from friends?

I heard that promoters of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink were handing out copies at Robson Square on Saturday and were having a difficult time getting people to stop and talk to them. I guess the “power of thinking without thinking” was too much for people.

I passed by a mother and daughter this weekend. They walked by Book Warehouse on 4th Ave. and the mother stopped to look at the bargain books out front. “Books!” the little girl said. “I hate books.”

Scott told me once you can gauge how smart someone is by the number of books they’ve read or have in their library. My apartment is wallpapered with books. Smart maybe, but cool?

Kevin Smokler’s introduction to Bookmark Now is a great essay on the fun or coolness of books and the book industry. It’s definitely worth reading.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Shamble, stumble, flail, have a good time? No, we’re not getting legless, I’m talking zombies. Any Zombie obsessions out there?

Please join me Saturday, August 27 from 4 pm onwards.

ZOMBIEWALK 2005 starts at 4 pm from the VAG and 5pm from 15th and Sophia (near Main St).

Here are the details I’ve received:

The walk will start in two-stages as follows:

1. All non-lazy zombies (or “super zombies”) are invited to gather on or around the big steps at the Vancouver Art Gallery no later than 4pm. From the VAG the horde will be skytrain bound. After a stumble through the mall and a short jaunt on Vancouver’s fine public transit system we will de-train at Main St. station and stumble on up to the Bethlehem Lutheran Church - 320 East 15th - two blocks east of Main. Once there, we will take a short pause to collect ourselves, gnaw on brains, and meet up with . . .

2. The lazy zombies. A second group of zombies will gather in front of the above mentioned church (Bethlehem Lutheran, 320 East 15th, at Sophia and E 15th) at or around 5pm. Remember - zombies tend to move slowly and occasionally have problems with limbs falling off, body stiffness and possibly skytrain security officers. If you do not see any of your brethren exactly at 5pm, be patient. Mill about and look scary.

Once all zombie factions have massed at the church it will be time to head onward and uphill to Mountainview Cemetery at Fraser and 31st. For reference, the walk will proceed along Main Street to 31st should any zombie stragglers be left behind and/or spontaneous zombies wish to join the braaiiins procession.

Once at the cemetery, please be on good zombie behaviour - respect your brethren.

We will linger a short while in the cemetery before moving onwards to nearby Queen Elizabeth Park for some games, brains, fun, prizes, brains and a pinata or two.

Yes, you do have to dress like a zombie. Those who do not do so are welcome, but risk having their brains eaten by confused zombies. You have to admit - they’re not all that smart, but they know a good living brain when they smell it.

Potentially useful things to keep in mind:

Causes of zombie-ness:

As everyone knows - or should know - zombies are usually attributable to one or more of the following:

1. voodoo
2. science gone astray - chemical or biological accidents, experiments, viruses and the like
3. the apocalypse

Of course, there are many more possibilties. Be creative. Corpses in all stages of decay are encouraged.

For the low-budget zombie:

1. Oatmeal and liquid latex works wonders.
2. Food colouring and corn syrup makes convincing blood, but sticky. However, also tasty.
3. Value Village - but I’m sure it’s hardly necessary to mention that.

Finally: As mentioned previously - zombies are only really effective when travelling together in large groups. Bring your friends, foes, family and other loved ones.

Nothing says you love someone quite like caking yourself in make-up, limping down the street together and eating them in the park!

Not sure where this started but here’s a blog link that looks like the original. Supernovajuice.com

Wanna come?


Saturday, August 13, 2005

Canadians Say Goodbye to Sergeant Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith

Today was the memorial service for “Smokey” Smith. The procession made its way through my neighbourhood and across the bridge to St-Andrew’s-Wesley Church. The roar of the CF-18s is stuck in my mind.

“Smokey” died on Wednesday, August 3, in Vancouver. The friends and dignitaries at the memorial service spoke of him as a card, as a man who liked a laugh and a good scotch, and most of all as a man who will be remembered as a hero.

The passing of “Smokey” Smith marks the passing of living history into oral and written history. As the last living recipient of the Victoria Cross “Smokey” had the remaining first-hand stories of what happened that night in Italy on October 21, 1944. It was his duty in accepting the Victoria Cross to represent bravery and to continue acting as a public figure and spokesperson long after the war. As a Canadian and a citizen of the world, I do not want those stories to die with him.

I did my English thesis research on wartime stories and although I don’t want to live in the past, I spent a lot of time thinking about it then, and again today.

The Victoria Cross is awarded for bravery, valour, self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. The cross is 1.375 inches across and is made from cannons captured from the Russians during the Crimean War.

There have been 1,351 Victoria Crosses awarded, 94 to Canadians.

The last living recipient of the Victoria Cross will have his ashes scattered at sea tomorrow. Sergeant Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith, VC, CM, OBC, CD. 1914-2005.

Button Makers and Skateboards

The last couple of days there has been increased activity in my brain, in particular on the crafty side. Cunning and creative.

Yesterday I was thinking buttons.

Now more on the board:
Take the virtual tour of the Skates Online Skateboard Museum

The new banner for So Misguided is of a rare 1930s scooter skateboard hybrid. Begone butterfly from the template.

I like the skateboard because it is red and I don’t have to change the template colours yet. I like that it is a rare skateboard, everyone knows the Roller Derby. There’s a social misfit or cultural icon element to skateboarding that I find interesting. If you could say “so misguided” about anything skateboarding is definitely it. I don’t skateboard but I’m drawn like a magnet to the logos and board designs.

Now if you’re going to link buttons to skateboards, here’s my segway. Check out PD’s Hot Shop on 4th Ave. in Vancouver. Or go to the website.

open at noon cep’n fer sundays closed or
we might be around but check first.
prices subject to change according to
customer’s attitude.

For sure there is a button quote there. Check out the whole site. “We are anti-technology which means no credit carrds, no interwack or debit shit.”

More on the board:

Thirties - Scooter Skate
The rare 1930’s scooter skate was a skateboard / scooter hybrid which was designed with a quick change single bolt adjustment allowing the user to roll it as a scotter with the handle or as a skate without it. This was a three-wheel design with steel roller skate style wheels and no turning or steering mechanism. The bulbous rocket ship style 6 1/2” x 13” deck was stamped out of metal and finished in a vibrant red. This particular design showed patent pending makr, although it’s unclear whether the final patent was granted. Skating then involved pushing down a hill and hoping that you made it to the bottom ... this must have been a noisy, adrenaline stirring, rough ride.

Roller Derby #10, my second favourite.

Friday, August 12, 2005

“Podcasting” Added to the Oxford English Dictionary

I’m a day behind but not a word short. CBC reported yesterday that podcast, phishing and wiki are among the new additions to the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Read the CBC article

Second edition? The first edition was published in full in 1928. Is there a certain number of words that have to be added before it is considered a new edition vs. a new printing? Curious.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Curb your enthusiasm.
So Misguided skates the issue.

The first commercial skateboard was the Roller Derby Skateboard (1959) but before that skateboards looked like scooters. The cool kids removed the pushbar of the scooter and voila the skateboard above was born (see the new banner for So Misguided).

Skateboarding Vancouver at the Vancouver Museum is on until August 30.

More on the board to come ...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Amazon.ca Launches Search Inside the Book in Canada

Big news out of Seattle today. Amazon.ca has finally launched Search Inside the Book. SITB has been available on the .com site since Oct. 2003, but it took much longer to launch the program in Canada.

Search Inside the Book lets customers search for keywords inside a book. For example, if I want a book on Turkey, I can select the Search Inside results tab, then see 2-3 pages of the book.

Helpful for sorting out Turkey vs. poultry. Nice for fiction if you want to read a couple of pages to see the writing style. And, of course, an interesting opportunity for readers and publishers.

GooglePrint is also available but I’m not sure how many Canadian publishers are on board.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Vancouver Symphony in the Park

Bramwell Tovey is the music director for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He joined the VSO in 2000 but before that he was artistic director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He is a bit of a card, which I remember from my Winnipeg symphony-going days. The thing I like about Bramwell is that he hams it up with the audience, especially those of us attending a free concert in the park. He still gives you the colour commentary between pieces, but there is an acknowledgement that we’re all outside, that a dog might have pooped in the front row and that’s why there’s a large gap in the audience.

The “playlist” yesterday was also an acknowledgement of the audience. All the pieces had elements that we’ve heard in other places, like advertisements. It was a bit like the Bugs Bunny repetoire.

Rossini’s William Tell: Overature (apparently the ring tone is available)
Lehar’s Gold & Silver Waltz
Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G minor (played in stores last Christmas season according to Tovey)
Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries
Borodin’s Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances
Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 36: Nimrod (who doesn’t like something serious called Nimrod)
Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Op. 49 (with no less than 16 cannon shots)

The top of the night though was Saint-Saens’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, fronted by violinist Christel Lee. Now Christel is no ordinary violinist. She is 14 years old, originally from Vancouver, and studying with world-acclaimed violinist Kyung Wha Chung.

I am in awe of anyone who can play an instrument, in particular these child prodigies. Young Christel came on stage in a flame red gown to accompany the white-tux orchestra. Ms. Lee blew my mind away, and we gave her a standing O so I’m not overstating how awesome she was.

Then I rode my bike home. A very civilized evening indeed.

Friday, August 05, 2005

You’re It—Let’s Play Literary Tag

Two weeks ago, James Sherrett tagged me in a game of literary tag. Although I hate to be left out, I’m also not a joiner. Like a fish on the line, I’ve resisted long enough. I am IT.

1. How many books do I own?
I suspect that I own more than 1,000 books. I have a large number of them stored in my mother’s apartment. She keeps the less loved books in boxes but the first editions and antiquarian books on display (as if they are hers).

2. Last Book I Bought:
June: Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK in BookCity in Toronto in The Beaches.

3. Last Book I Read:
This weekend: The Great Stink by Clare Clarke.

4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
3. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alastair MacLeod
4. You Went Away by Timothy Findley
5. The Canadian Oxford English Dictionary

5. Tag Five More:
Patricia at BookLust
Laila Lalami at Moorish Girl
Kevin Smokler
Dynamo duo Susie and Travis at Hop Studios et al.
Stowe Boyd and Stowe Boyd of Corante. I proudly display my Get Real sticker.