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

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Imagined City: A Literary History of Winnipeg

I have been waiting for this book: The Imagined City: A Literary History of Winnipeg, edited by David Arnason and Mhari Mackintosh. There was an announcement in today’s Winnipeg Free Press that Arnason will be at the Millennium Library Tuesday evening for the release of the book.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Carol Shields Auditorium on the second floor.

A lot of crazy stuff happened in Winnipeg.

Arnason was my thesis advisor at the University of Manitoba. He came out drinking with the grad students and told fantastic stories. I like retelling the stories but I often get the details confused. For example, I never met Al Purdy, but Arnason did. David Arnason. I like telling this story as my own. But it’s not.

Arnason told me Purdy arrived at the University of Manitoba as a visiting professor sometime in the 70s. Purdy left everything in B.C., including his wife. He brought only a few possessions and furnished the apartment with a mattress and some pots and pans that were scrounged up by grad students.

Purdy lived just off campus in Summerland Apartments. He liked socializing with profs and students. They hung around, drinking, and sat on the mattress or the floor. Purdy stocked the cupboard with bean cans and bottles of rye.

Arnason told me Purdy rinsed out the bean cans and used them as glasses. The saving grace was Purdy passed them around half full of rye.

Arnason told these stories as a distraction. He sometimes offered stories in lieu of critical feedback on my thesis. My essays and revisions came back with a check mark or, well-written pieces, a “good.”

Arnason says Purdy once called him in the middle of the night. Purdy didn’t care about etiquette or the time of day. He commanded that Arnason come over and read the poem he just finished. Arnason had a wife. He lived outside Winnipeg city limits, in St. Norbert. Purdy presented a problem.

Arnason arrived at Purdy’s. I imagine he looked tentative, peered at Purdy from the doorway. Purdy offered Arnason a bean can and then waited in anticipation as Arnason read the manuscript. When Arnason finished reading, he handed it back to Purdy. “It’s good.”

Arnason appreciates the economy of words.

“Good,” was Purdy’s indignant reply. “It’s great! Read it again.”

Friday, November 25, 2005

Another Half-Assed Literary Round-Up

I just spent 10 minutes on a Kick Ass posting about what’s going on in the publishing world. Then the computer froze. I was under the illusion that my posts were “quick saved” as I typed. This is not the case. Now I’m dreadfully late for a post-birthday cake eating date. So instead of Kick Ass you have Half Assed.

The vague recollection of the post is as follows. Lots of cool things happening in publishing, no time to talk, here it is:

Read this article on Berrett-Koehler. Total eye opener in terms of a kick ass business model for book publishing.

Listen to Patricia Storm on CBC Radio talking books on Cross Country Check-up

And House of Anansi launched a podcast today.

Really, my first post was 4 million times better and I’m not exaggerating.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

2005 Canadian Blog Awards

For a stunning example of half-finished web design, visit the Canadian Blog Awards page and vote for So Misguided.

Round 1 voting has started for the 2005 Canadian Blog Awards.

So Misguided is nominated in the Best New Blog category and the Best Culture Blog category. Vote for Pedro! No, I mean vote for me by selecting the category and then So Misguided.

The Polling Stations are open until Wednesday November 30th.
Friday December 2nd, 12pm EST: Round One results will be announced.

Then I solicit your votes a second time, seems rather tedious:
Saturday December 3rd - Friday December 9th: Round Two voting.
Sunday December 11th, 9pm EST: Round Two results will be announced.

Voting Instructions
Vote once, every day. So Misguided for president.

Don’t pay too much attention to the voting results. It is crap. You’ll see what I mean. And where do LinkFour and LinkFive go?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Google Print is Google Book Search

I forgot to post this last week so here it goes now. Google Print has a new name. It is now Google Book Search. Perhaps Google has just discovered SEO?

The change has been in place since November 17. The search page at http://print.google.com is now http://books.google.com

The second part of the change is the home page promotion. Google Book Search is *bang* right on the home page, unfortunately you now need to log into your Google account to view the book pages. Is that like showing ID to get into the library?

Check out the explanation for logging in:

Apparently you can click the “view an unrestricted page” link. I don’t see that link.

What do you think about Google Book Search so far?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Big 3-0

I turned 30 on Wednesday ... but I’m celebrating until Monday.

One of the most interesting things about turning 3-0 is hearing about how other people celebrated their 30th birthday. My favourite story so far is that of a colleague who hosted a big party and presented a Punch and Judy show, with an original script.

Do you have a good story? Tell me.

Literary Round-up

A lot of interesting things happened in the literary sphere this week, but the commentary was relatively quiet or perhaps I was distracted by my birthday celebrations. This post is also lacking commentary because I’m cleaning up the pad for my pending birthday guests.

Raincoast Books launched a literary podcast series.

The Literary Review of Canada listed the 100 most influential Canadian books, which included 6 royal commission reports and the 1863 Geological Survey of Canada. Atwood, Cohen and Findley are listed, as is Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie.

David Bergen’s book sales have, according to a CBC report on The National, increased by 2000%

Imagine a Day, one of the most beautiful illustrated books I’ve seen in a long time, won the 2005 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature, Illustration. Don’t judge it just on the cover, which I think is the weakest part.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire premiered this weekend with apparently 9750 engagements in North America. I attended a 10 pm showing at the Dunbar Theatre in Vancouver. There was full-on audience participation. Wooing when the main characters first appeared on screen. Clapping. Gasps of breath. Snickering and tsk tsking over Ron and Harry’s pissing match. It was great.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Chapters Gives It Away, Well 20% Anyway

Get 20% at Chapters/Indigo this Sunday (Nov 20)—- just print out this coupon (link below)—apparently, you don’t have to be an iRewards member.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Being Read to

Patricia my favourite bibliophile blogger has asked whether her readers recall being read to as a child. I definitely do. My mother has a fantastic reading voice. I used to fight with my brother over who would get their story read first. I was even recently relating the story of how my mother used to read “What Was That !?” This is the story of a family of bears, and one by one each of the baby bears hears a bump in the night and comes running to the parents’ bed. “What was that?” they cry. “Why it was just the lady bug down the hall, dropping a shoe.” So one by one there is an explanation of the bumps in the night, until there is a huge crash, and every little bug in the house cries out WHAT WAS THAT. It is of course the legs of the bears’ bed giving way under the weight of all the little bears in the bed.

Just at the moment when the bed cracked, my mom would slam the book closed and scare the heck out of us. I loved it every time.

Many years later, my mother worked as a librarian and my teenage self used to sneak in to listen to her read at storytime. I still love being read to, and I love reading to people.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Blogs, Dogs and Birthdays

My birthday is tomorrow. I was never one to wish for a puppy, but yesterday I got a dog. Not a real dog, but an invite to the phenomenal Blogs n Dogs workshop in Banff. Nice present for sure. I’ve always wanted to go to the Banff Centre.

Raincity Studios in partnership with the Banff New Media Institute is producing a 3 day workshop on blogging and social networking at the Banff Centre, Alberta from December 4th-7th 2005, and I am attending.

Yesterday I received an email from Robert Scales of Raincity Studios announcing that I was the winner of their scholarship (workshop fee, activity fee—DOG SLEDDING—accommodation and meals, and airport transfer fees to and from the airport to Banff). I swivelled around in my office chair many times and the grin has yet to leave my face.

Here’s the post announcing the winner and the 5 other finalists.

Want to come? The registration closes Friday, November 25.
Register. Do it now. Don’t delay.

There’s dog sledding, and I think in my submission I may have promised to bring my tap shoes.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Comicon Comes to Vancouver

Vancouver Comicon is this Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM at Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street, Vancouver.

Vancouver Comicon Information Page

I am envious of anyone who gets to go. My dancecard is full that day and I doubt I’ll be able to get down.

Admission is $3, please, someone go on my behalf.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

David Bergen’s The Time in Between Wins the Giller Prize

David Bergen’s novel The Time In Between just won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He’s got the prize, the glitzy TV spot, a $40,000 cheque, way to go David! The Giller is Canada’s richest fiction award.

David Bergen is a Winnipeg writer whose novel is about an American man who fought in the Vietnam War then returned many years later only to disappear. I’m a huge fan of the book and have made a couple of postings about The Time in Between already:

David Bergen Hits It Big with The Time In Between

Quill and Quire is reporting that Random House U.S. will publish the book on Dec. 6. It will be interesting to compare the McClelland & Stewart marketing campaign with the Random House U.S. campaign.

Congratulations to David Bergen.

Feeling Broke

Paying for my elaborate vacation has left me feeling rather broke. Lucky for me there is a freelance gig in the works, but hey there’s also this interesting find. And those are American dollars. How do you rank?

My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Un-Bundling Amazon and Google Print

Google launched the Library Print project on Thursday and Amazon.com announced that it would offer online access to any page or section of a book, as well as the entire book. There is quite a bit of confusion, even in the publishing industry, about what these programs are so here’s my cheatsheet.

Google Print and the Google Print Library Project are two different programs.

Google Print is like Amazon’s Search Inside the Book. Publishers sign on to the program and provide a copy of their books so that Google/Amazon can scan and index the work. Google and Amazon offer users limited access to the book based on the user’s search terms—a limited number of pages forward or backward and a limited percentage of the total book. With Google, publishers are able to access site statistics on the number of times the title was viewed, the click-throughs on the Buy the Book links, and other goodies I’m sure. As a publisher you could use that information to optimize your own website pages and the descriptions of the book you provide to Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, etc. There is no fee to sign on to the program, however, publishers incur the cost of shipping titles to be scanned.

Google Print Library Project is the one caught up in US courtcases. In this program, Google has partnered with key US libraries to scan their entire collections (New York Public Library and the university libraries at Stanford, Harvard, Michigan and Oxford). The portion of the book made available to the user is dependent on the copyright. If the book is in the public domain then the whole book is accessible online. If the book is protected by copyright only the bibliographic data (title, author, publisher, etc.) is accessible plus a small except to provide context to the search term used.

Amazon Pages program allows users to “un-bundle” any of the books in the program. (It’s unclear to me how they determine which books are part of the program or which publishers Amazon is partnering with—maybe they haven’t worked out the details, the services are not yet available.) In the Amazon Pages program the user can choose to buy just the pages or sections needed and read them online.

Amazon Upgrade allows customers buying a physical copy of the book to also have the book available online for reading.

I’m interested in how the Amazon programs pan out because it seems they will run into publishers who have problems with how digital rights were assigned in author contracts and/or publishers who already provide ebook versions, again a rights conflict. The difference in approach will also be interesting to observe. Will Amazon engage with publishers in a different way than Google? For publishers, Amazon is another customer, they are a bookseller and there is an existing financial arrangement in place based on selling books. Not the case with Google. Google is making its money by increasing the number of pages it has indexed so that it can generate revenue off the ads it places on those pages. The unsung point so far in the Google discussions is that publishers in the Google Print program share in the ad revenue.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Love Your Rock

Hello Outdoor Lovers! I am very excited to announce that my buddy Craig’s website LoveYourRock.com is now online.

What is LoveYourRock.com? It is a website about appreciating and understanding the natural world that is humanity’s home.  It’s a site for everyone who wishes they could spend more time outside!

So help Craig out: Have read through the site and comment here on what you think. He’s open to all sorts of feedback.

Congrats Crazy, now you need to get a blog going.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Northern Voice 2006

Are you coming to Northern Voice 2006?

Northern Voice 2006 (http://www.northernvoice.ca) is a two day conference on Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11. Location: UBC Robson Square, downtown Vancouver.

Northern Voice is currently accepting speaker submissions, registrations and sponsorship proposals. For all the details, check out the Northern Voice site.

Last year this was the only Canadian conference I attended. It was also the best priced.

The Moose is Loose.