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

Friday, December 30, 2005

Dance Dance Revolution

I was uploading my

snowman photos to Flickr today and saw that Dance Dance Revolution also hit the Krug household. James and I attended a house party where DDR made quite the hit. The best part was putting the game on the highest speed and watching people go crazy trying to step on the foot pads in time with the flashing arrows on screen.

But back to the snowmen. Winter in Winnipeg is always fun because Peggers are crazy for Christmas lights and snowmen. There was even a city-wide Christmas light competition this year.

James and I noticed early on that Cordova Street in River Heights seemed to be a hotbed for snowmen builders. The builders were never seen but their work was on full display. You’ll notice that these snowmen are sporting all sorts of winter mittens and toques. Nobody would think of stealing the mittens off a snowman. This is Winnipeg. Leave that door unlocked too. Check out the snowmen of Cordova St.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

CBC Podcasts

My CBC.ca viewing was interrupted today by a survey request. CBC wanted to know more about how I felt about podcasts. Yippee! A couple of things here to note: the “could you fill out this survey” was a clear question and I was told it would take approx. 15 min, good to know, and when I clicked yes, I got to view the story I was going to before I had to take the survey. Lovely because 15 min. later I would have forgotten why I’d come to the site in the first place. The survey layout was also great. There was a progress bar at the bottom so I could see how far along I was. The questions were phrased in an easy-to-understand way with good check boxes. The only question I didn’t like was one where you pick which programs you’d like podcasts of and you could only pick a maximum of 5. There were at least 10 I wanted, but I guess the survey folks need to narrow things down. Overall it was fantastic and I said at the end that I would be interested in discussing the future of podcasts more so I signed my name and contact info. At the moment I listen mostly to the Radio 3 podcasts and Tod Maffin’s, but I was thinking the other day that those damn leaders debates should be podcasts because I kind of have cooler things to do at 8 pm than sit around watching a bunch of hot headedness. I know CBC has the debates in video form you can download, but I need the podcast version so I can listen to it in the car on the way to and from work. Maybe podcasts of the leaders debates exist and I haven’t found them?

I did find the CBC Blog Report on the election though:
Canada Votes Blog report

The only other dissatisfying part of the survey was a series of questions on whether I’d pay to hear CBC podcasts and how much. I understand there are costs involved for producing new content and that there are permissions and rights fees for using the radio content in a podcast but I don’t want a subscription model (i.e., pay X amount for unlimited downloads during 12 months) nor do I want a per podcast fee. So I said I’d be ok with sponsorship or advertising. I used to be a regular Globe and Mail reader. I looked at the online site every morning and then sometimes in the afternoon if I was following a story. Now, I never go to the site because you have to subscribe to see the good stuff.

I’m very glad that CBC offers podcasts and I hope they continue to be free and I loved taking their survey even though I hate surveys. I guess relevance is everything in surveyland.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Imagine The Imagined City

Just received a notice from Turnstone that my stocking stuffer is now in stores: The Imagined City: A Literary History of Winnipeg, edited by David Arnason & Mhari Mackintosh.

Here’s the publisher’s description: In The Imagined City, David Arnason and Mhari Mackintosh trace the literary history of Winnipeg from the Red River Settlement through two world wars, the 1919 General Strike, and the Great Depression, to today. Through a wide variety of excerpts, they present the significant works, people, and places that have contributed to Winnipeg’s literary life. This mosaic history of the intellectual life that has developed in Canada’s geographic centre helps to explain how a small hub city, at the meeting of two rivers, has grown into one of the country’s most diverse and densely artistic communities. Featuring the writing of Carol Shields, Margaret Laurence, Dorothy Livesay, Adele Wiseman, and The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson, and illustrated with more than 160 photos and illustrations and 5 maps, The Imagined City introduces readers to the men and women of Winnipeg’s literary past and present.

Buy the book from McNally Robinson, my favourite Canadian bookstore.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

On Discovering Shane Koyczan

So this Shane guy is pretty interesting. He’s from Yellowknife and is a great poet, according to people who know things about poetry:

“Shane Koyczan is electrifying. It’s a rare poet who can make his audience laugh and cry; this is a writer who will break your heart, then heal it.” Val McDermid The Distant Echo

“Read Shane Koyczan…The future of poetry is in good hands.”  Maya Angelou

“He makes you feel the depth of love, joy and pain in everyday life.”  Joel Pott, Lead singer, Athlete

Check him out at Mother Press Media

Monday, December 12, 2005

HarperCollins Digitizes Books Then Sells Them to Search Engines

The Globe and Mail ran an article today by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Kevin J. Delaney titled “HarperCollins does Net end run: will sell digitized books to search firms”.

I’d like to link to the article but help me if I could find it in the digital edition of The Globe. So here’s my summary. There’s a controversy raging at the moment about the future of book, in particular the future of books as Google and Amazon wish to display them in their digital glory. At the moment publishers send physical copies of their books to Amazon and Google to be scanned and included in Search Inside the Book (Amazon) and Google Print (now Google Book Search). Google does offer publishers the option of sending an electronic scan of the book instead of the physical copy, which for Canadian publishers means no shipping costs and no duty fees.

The big news today is that HarperCollins Publishers is telling the search engine giants and Amazon to forget it. Essentially HarperCollins wants the search engines to back away from digitizing content on their behalf and instead wants to digitize their own books and determine who they license the content to and how it will be displayed.

Instead of sending copies of their books to various Internet companies for digitizing, as it does now, HarperCollins will create a digital files of its books in its own digital warehouse. Search companies such as Google will then be allowed to create an index of each book’s content so that when consumers do a search, they will be pointed to a page view. However, that view will be hosted by a server in the HarperCollins digital warehouse.

So the digital files will only be on HarperCollins servers. Search engines will have to crawl the HarperCollins website but will not be allowed to index the image of the page. HarperCollins will control the terms of trade, i.e., deciding who they want to partner with as retail partners. There is no strategy for selling directly to the consumer. They hope to have scanned and digitized key titles by mid-2006. And, the strategy is seen by CEO Jane Friedman as a way to “protect our rights and the rights of our authors.”

So what do you think? It doesn’t exactly address the reader’s right to easily find and discover new titles, when they want, where they want, unless HarperCollins has a very clever arrangement with Amazon and Google about how those page views will work. Perhaps nested within an Amazon frame? I don’t think it is in Amazon’s best interest to move people away from their site.

On the one hand, I think HarperCollins is going to engage in a very interesting exercise. I’m keen to see how it all works out. On the other hand, I’d rather see publishers work things out together with Amazon and Google, you know, the subject-matter experts in online retail and search.

I’m confident that there are enough level-headed people to find a way to balance user rights with creator rights, but, it is a big conversation that isn’t easy to have. Again, what do you think?

UPDATE: Quill and Quire reported the following in the OMNI edition. A quote from David Kent, president and CEO of HarperCollins Canada.

Kent is more inclined to talk about the principles at stake. Maintaining control over digital content reflects publishers’ right to be paid for their work. “We invested in [the book], we took the risk, we should control it,” he says, adding that at the same time, no publisher wishes to restrict the public’s access to the books. “If you want it, come to us, and you can get it.”


Sunday, December 11, 2005

My Wishlist

James and I engaged in a poke-and-stroll down 4th avenue today. Poke as in stick your head in a store, poke about, then stroll on. I redeemed my Duthie’s gift certificate that my brother gave me for my 30th birthday. 30 bucks for 30 years. Thank you D.

Here’s the book I got: The Genius in the Design

I like book gifts and it is that time of year so here’s my wishlist: Amazon listmania

What’s on your list? Any good recommendations I don’t have on my list?

Friday, December 09, 2005

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating

CBC has reported a couple of times on a Vancouver couple who are observing a special diet that restricts them to eating foods that are grown and produced within a hundred mile radius of their home. The authors Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon are actually writing a series of articles for The Tyee. The diet is really less about dieting than about the politics of food, recognizing where things are grown, the amount of fuel used to transport food, and our disassociation with the food production process.

Quill and Quire reported today that Random House Canada has acquired the rights to publish The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. It will be interesting to see whether two authors interested in their ecological footprint will be able to ensure the book is printed on 100% post-consumer, recycled paper, vegetable-based ink, non-bleached paper, etc. I certainly hope so because the good work they did decreasing their consumption of foods requiring long-distance transport (fossil fuels) might be quickly undone by the rather environmentally heavy act of publishing thousands of copies of a book using virgin paper (paper from trees as opposed to paper two or three times removed from the original tree).

Random House has signed on with Markets Initiative and I hope that means the book will be as eco-friendly as the diet. Watch for the book in Spring 2007.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Last Day in Banff at Blogs n Dogs

And the learning continued ...

I’m not a fan of blog posts of lists but noting some of the things I learned in point form is primarily for my own resources so stay with me.

1. Flickr.com Groups vs. Tags. So Flickr Groups is kind of like Yahoo Groups. You can join a group and see the group’s photos, which might be a nice thing to do at a conference like this, get everyone to join one group and then we see all the photos for our group. The other way, which seems to be what we mostly did, was tags. You can tag a photo, for example, blogsndogs, and then all photos tagged with that tag are searchable.

2. Vonage.com allows unlimited calling to the US, Canada and Puerto Rico for a flat rate of $24.99 per month. I don’t recall who was talking this up to me, it is long distance calling with your broadband and computer instead of the land line. My problem is that I have no problem with long distance calling on my land line so for now I’m not interested.

3. Apparently bloggers can become an accredited journalist for about $15 per year. Being granted protection as a member of the press or just having a press badge seems like a worthwhile thing, but I missed how you go about registering. Anyone know?

4. Zoominfo.com. No link because I don’t want to give these guys any Google juice. This is an icky service that lets you search for anyone’s employment history, bios, personal phone numbers and emails. The interesting thing is that they cache information and then display it in a pretty authoritative looking manner, but lots of stuff is old and/or incorrect. The wonderful thing is that you can become a member and correct and manage your data. Seems like holding someone’s digital identity hostage isn’t an ethical way of gaining a member base. Apparently HR people are heavy users of this service. Beware of what you post online LiveJournal users.

5. Favourite quotes from the week. “Join us for the Kool-Aid after,” which was in reference to blogging as a religion. And “I never fully understood ‘exposed skin’ until today,” which was in reference to our skin freezing after 3 minutes of exposure while dogsledding.

6. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a not-nice phrase.

7. Mappr.com is an interactive space for exploring place, based on the photos people take.

8. Lee talked about technology trends and the changing sense of community. He likes to refer to online communities as a “social” or “party.” “Community is something that each person feels on a different level. It may be across blogs, in a wiki or message board, or all of the above.” What struck me was his use of social, social like social interaction and I didn’t want to interupt the lecture but I did want to add that the prairie sense of a social perfectly embodies that sense of online community Lee was discussing. A social is a gathering of people around a common goal (such as raising money for a hockey team or for a wedding) and attendance and promotion of the event/location is based on word-of-mouth.

9. What’s a day without acronyms. CSR. Corporate Social Responsibility.

10. Lee’s version of weblog vs. message boards.

11. Cool travel blog

12. The Onion uses Drupal. If I was going to create a blog today, I’d seriously consider Drupal and using Raincity Studios to do the design. Yes yes I would. Expression Engine is what I use now and I have no complaints. It is great blog software. I know the Drupal people yawn looking at it, but if you want to do more than Typepad and Movable Type but less than Drupal. Expression Engine is the way to go. That’s my unpaid, user endorsement.

Raincity Studios is the cat’s meow. I am thrilled that they picked me and this blog to attend the Blogs n Dogs conference in Banff. It was fantastic and I met my goals: learn more, meet new people, get an extra edge on the new tools and trends. Thank you thank you thank you.


Every Blogger Has an Opinion

James likes to remind me sometimes that every person has an opinion and a belly button. Ok, he swaps belly button with another body part, but, you know, kids could be reading this. Anyway I heard a radio interview about blogging awhile back and one of the things mentioned about bloggers is that although they generally have strong opinions (positive and negative) that they blog more frequently about the negative. So, here’s my positive for today.

Last weekend’s Globe and Mail (Saturday, December 3) was one of the best editions I’ve read in a long time. There was lots of book stuff throughout the paper. Globe Style featured The Naming of Names by Anna Pavord, The Report on Business featured the media mega-deal and shake-up of Bell Globemedia, Weekend Review showcased The Chronicles of Narnia and talked about blockbuster book/movies and the Christian overtones of Narnia, and there was an article “The great fiction crash of 2005”, which was about the soft sales numbers for novels in Canada. It was just a good read, and I’m not even finished the paper. Thank you Globe and Mail.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Blogs n Dogs: Things I Didn’t Know Before Yesterday

A number of people asked me yesterday what I learned at the conference, and I had a hard time answering, not because I didn’t learn anything but because the things I learned were a bunch of small things rather than one large thing. Small things are sometimes harder to articulate. In some cases it wasn’t so much not knowing about a thing but being reminded of a thing I’d forgotten.

What I Learned on Day One:
1. Flickr.com: A reminder that at the bottom of the page you can create an RSS feed for a tag.
2. Upcoming.org: Didn’t know about this cool event website and now I have to remember on Jan 20 to go to the podcasting meet-up at the Beatty St. Bar and Grill.
3. Last.fm: Didn’t know I could listen to all sorts of great music.
4. DLA: Digital Lifestyle Aggregator. Who makes up this stuff?
5. MySpace.com: Patrick Brealey and the Knives are on MySpace.
6. I have invisibility powers and mind control. It’s true, ask Kris.
7. Allconsuming.net: Appears to pull data from Amazon.com, clever idea for something else I’m working on.
8. Odeo.com and Audioblog.com: Knew about it before but got to see it in action.
9. Statcounter.com: Didn’t know about this great free tool.
10. Lee LeFever should write for Lonely Planet. It’s true the world is not flat. And his user network for suggesting countries to visit is a very cool idea.
11. Will Pate. Need I say more? Ok, a bit more, his blog aggregates everything he writes anywhere on the web. I want that.
12. Vonage: Podcasting dealy-o with VoIP.
13. Blogroll with Bloglines: I knew I could do this, but I didn’t quite get why I’d want to use Bloglines to do it. Now, I understand. I can put the Bloglines blogroll on my blog and it will show all the public feeds I read.
14. John thinks Jackie Pittigliani has cool photos on Flickr.com. Some I like.
15. I should MooseCamp an idea I’m working on.
16. ShoZoo. Ronald Shozu. Roland has a Nokia with shozu and he can automatically upload photos to Flickr.

UPDATE: Shozu not ShoZoo. Shazam. Also my humble apologies. It is Roland not Ronald. I did that a couple of times in my head and thought I’d cured myself completely. Not the case. Roland Roland Roland down the dogsledding trail.

17. Yarnharlot.ca. Knit away my friend.
18. It is -26 C, which is 23 degrees different than Vancouver temperature right now, and 23 negative degrees more than I’m comfortable with.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Patrick Brealey and the Knives

Kris Krug was just demonstrating MySpace.com and as he was doing that I thought, Patrick Brealey needs to be on MySpace, then I searched and there he was. Patrick rocks my world. Have a listen.

Patrick Brealey on MySpace.com


Monique on the Way to Banff

The challenge going to blogging conferences with bloggers is that they are snap-happy-camera fiends. Within seconds of meeting Lee LeFever, for example, I appeared on Flickr.

The great Roland was also in on the action.

Lee takes photos of Roland taking photos ... See what I mean. It’s an endless mise-en-scene. Then we all talk about metadata. Metadata within metanarrative. The postmodernists go wild.


Tories podcast, Liberals blog

CTV Canada AM reported this morning that the Tories have podcasts up on their site and the Liberals are blogging. Perhaps they’ll show up at the Blogs n Dogs session today.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Banff Centre Rocks

Altitude: Please be aware that Banff’s elevation is approximately 1,384 metres (4,540 feet) ... you may experience fatigue, shortness of breath and/or dizziness.

It has nothing to do with being out of shape. See how awesome this place is.

Other wonderful things include the recycling bins in my room, the SmartSaver lightbulbs, and the guy in the box outside my window playing violin.

Check out the music hut. I’d guess it is 6-8 foot cube.

I’m a bit distracted by all the cool things and I should be working on an outstanding proposal. Outstanding in that it is incomplete rather than exceedingly brilliant.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hitting the Road

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” (Saint Augustine)

I’m on my way to Banff tomorrow for the Blog n Dogs conference. I have borrowed snow pants. I have located my winter shoes. I’m still searching for more appropriate outerwear. My wee wool coat is not going to do it.

Suggestions on braving the cold?