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

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Giant Octopus Attack

How would you like to be a salmon researcher poking around in your small submarine when a giant octopus decides that you’re either cute or dinner?

Mike Wood’s remote-controlled submarine was working on the Brooks Peninsula in BC last November when a giant Pacific octopus weighing about 45 kilograms decided to attack. It sounds like Mike wasn’t in the sub, but he panicked nonetheless because the $20,000 piece of equipment was uninsured. Mike’s sub got away because he blasted the octopus with seabed particles.

I’m partial to sea creatures even though it creeps me out to be underwater.

Here’s Mike’s video on Seaeye.com.
Here’s the full CBC story on CBC.ca

And here’s a fantastic book, The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. My favourite book of 2005. Lots of description about sea creatures, Rachel Carson is channelled, wonderful book.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Writers Round-Up

Lisa Moore wins regional Commonwealth Prize: See CBC.ca

“Canadian writer Lisa Moore’s debut novel Alligator has been named best book for the Caribbean and Canada region, making it a finalist for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez gives up the pen—retired: See Times Online

Aside from One Hundred Years of Solitude,  Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold are two of my favourite Marquez novels.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stephen King on Amazon Fishbowl

Bill Maher to Stephen King: You’re anything but a scary guy.

Stephen King: I have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk.

Stephen King doesn’t need any introduction, which makes a lot of people think that Stephen King also doesn’t need a marketing plan. Don’t the books just sell themselves?

This is the great fallacy about blockbusters. The blockbuster exists because people know about it, they talk to their friends about it, it captures the collective imagination, it’s human powered. But behind that is still a plan.

Any publisher with a blockbuster likely paid a lot of money for that book.  There’s the enormous advance that goes to the famous author. There’s the fat cheque that gets paid to the printer for the thousands (or millions) of copies printed—usually paid for before the books have sold. And then there’s the marketing budget.

Why do you need a budget, it’s human powered?

Well, yes, but the fan base still needs to see the book in the stores, still needs to hear about it online or in a newsletter or from a friend. From the publisher’s side this means paying for in-store placement, paying for ads, paying for advance copies or reviewer copies, paying for some gimmick that fans will love—kind of like throwing the beads at Mardi Gras. This all requires a plan because the publisher also wants to pitch the media on stories, it can’t just be “bestselling author publishes yet another book”. The publicity, the advertising, the in-store promotion—the blockbuster—needs to happen big and all at once. Just like the opening weekend of a movie.

So Stephen King. I saw his new novel Cell advertised somewhere (ok everywhere) and here it is on Amazon.com’s front page. “Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher”. The Fishbowl is a really solid promotion. There’s the link to buy the book above the video, which means the call to action is clear. But aside from that the Fishbowl clip is short enough that I don’t get bored or distracted but long enough to let me see what a funny and human guy Stephen King is. To me the video is a better chance to reach a broader audience because there’s the novelty factor—he’s on the very first show and he’s Stephen King—plus it’s cool technology and it’s funny. Perfect for viral marketing. I’m not a Stephen King fan, but the video captured my interest, I watched it, and now I’m thinking about buying Cell.

What I didn’t like: 1) My brain appears to be very maleable. 2) Bill Maher is a funny guy, but the audience explodes with laughter—how many people are in the audience and how over-excited are they?

I haven’t read a Stephen King novel since high school and even then I think I read it second-hand over the shoulder of my friend. But now, cool promotion, interesting concept, I might buy this book. Actually, I probably will buy this book. According to the Amazon.com review: Cell is “the king of horror’s homage to zombie films (the book is dedicated in part to George A. Romero).” Who doesn’t love zombies?

Apparently it will tap into my fears of technological warfare and terrorism, which is just great because I bought a cell phone and read that using a phone at a gas station could cause the phone to spark or ignite. Perhaps I should stick to the horrors of the owner’s manual. 

If you’re Canadian and want to support the Canadian distributor rather than the American publisher, which you do by default anyway, here’s the Amazon.ca link. There is no video at .ca
Amazon.ca: Buy the Cell

If you’re just after the video, or live in America, here’s the direct link:

Monday, January 23, 2006

Green Party

For a couple of seconds it looked like the Green Party might win a riding.

Green Party

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Heather Cornell taps her way to Vancouver

Heather Cornell, founder and director of Manhattan Tap, is in Vancouver for two weekend workshops.

Classes held at Vancouver Tap Dance Society (2775 East Hastings St, Vancouver)

Advanced beginner and Intermediate/Advanced classes as well as improvisations classes are available on
January 27, 28, 29 and February 3, 4, 5

To register visit http://www.westcoasttapdance.com

Heather Cornell was a protege to Charles “Cookie” Cook, Eddie Brown & Harriet Brown.  She studied extensively with and performed often with Chuck Green, Steve Condos & Buster Brown.  Heather also had the rare honour of having shared the stage with Honi Coles, Jimmy Slyde, The Nicholas Brothers, Gregory Hines, and Savion Glover.

She established the Manhattan Tap Apprentice Program that is responsible for training today’s generation of tap artists including Max Pollak, Michael Minery, Roxanne “Butterfl y”, Bob Carrol and Jeannie Hill, as well as cast members of Manhattan Tap, Stomp, Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk, Tap Dogs, Cool Heat Urban Beat, and Riverdance.

Dance with Dormeshia

Instrumental Feet and Support the Artform present workshops with Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards.

Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards (Black & Blue, Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk ) is undoubtedly one of the best tap dancers of all time.

The workshop will be held at Scotiabank Dance Centre (677 Davie St, Vancouver).

Saturday, Feb. 25
5:15-6:30 pm: Advanced beginner/intermediate
6:45-8 pm: Advanced

Sunday, Feb. 26
3:45-5 pm: Advanced beginner/intermediate
5:15-6:30 pm: Advanced

Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards is a Master Performer, choreographer and instructor. Dormeshia started tap dancing at age 3 under the instruction of Paul and Arlene Kennedy in California. She went on to perform in Rome, Italy at the Tip Tap Festival by the age of 8. From there she made her debut on Broadway at the age of 12, in the musical revue Black and Blue with greats such as Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown and Savion Glover. Her Broadway credits also include the Tony Award Winning Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk.

Dormeshia’s dance credit could fill an entire wall let alone this page.

Cost per class $30. Register early because the class space is limited.

Registration information: http://www.instrumentalfeet.tk

For more information please email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Crash Different

Having a basic understanding of marketing forces me to be a cynical consumer. When I see a poster in a bookstore, I wonder how much someone paid for that. When random people I meet on the street have very cool gadgets that they want to tell me about, I want to run away. I get how the viral marketing thing is supposed to work. Hello blog. So I pass this on with some reservation. Reservation because I know I’m supposed to find this video funny and then pass it on to my friends, and hey, maybe the guy who made it will become famous and then we’ll all want his desktop services. Ok, I’ve bought the ticket. Enjoy the ride.

From the misguided corner of the room, I bring you a crazy guy having a crazy time with Mac.

Lattes for Literacy

Hit the Starbucks on the 19th. That’s tomorrow.

Starbucks Coffee Canada pledges all latte proceeds on January 19th to Canadian literacy organizations, specifically ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation and Frontier College.

I enjoy the chai latte or the vanilla latte. Full fat, none of that skim milk or soy.

Here’s the press release: Starbucks Announces Second Annual Lattes for Literacy Day

After that visit your local coffee house. Have you been to the Bean?

Bean Around the World. Check it out: FuelledByCaffeine.com

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Kevin Smokler Blogs for Powell’s Books

I haven’t been paying attention to all the newsletters that I receive. Mostly there’s one or two interesting things per week and I wonder why I bother subscribing. I’d love a human filter. Someone who’s reading all the things I like and then posting just the relevant stuff for me. I do have many friends who acts as filter support so in return,  here are my links to recent book news.

Powell’s Books, America’s best indie bookseller, has a blog and podcast. Kevin Smokler is the guest blogger from Jan. 16 - 20. The Bookcast sound quality is okay but not great. It’s rather echoey and the blog is also okay. Lots of reviews, but some personality driven posts. I look forward to what Kevin will bring to it.

Amazon Connect: authors blog on Amazon.com. But it’s not a blog: no RSS feed and no comments.
Here’s the article

Kiwis are using a site called Lulu to post their books. Lulu offers free hosting and a free personal shop front for authors to display their work. Lulu also will print and post a paper copy in various bindings (paperback, hardcover, etc.). The only charge is 20% of the author’s royalty, if any. If the author waives royalties, a free electronic download is available. Sounds quite civilized.
Here’s the article

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

AAP and Google Lawsuit

This is mostly a link I want to remember, but if you’re in publishing, you’ll be interested too:

John Battelle’s Searchblog has a good post on what’s at stake for publishers and Google.

First, who is making the money? Second, who owns the rights to leverage this new innovation - the public, the publisher, or ... Google? Will Google make the books it scans available for all comers to crawl and index? Certainly the answer seems to be no. Google is doing this so as to make its own index superior, and to gain competitive advantage over others. That leaves a bad taste in the publisher’s mouths - they sense they are being disintermediated, and further, that Google is reinterpreting copyright law as they do it.

Battelle also points out that this is not just about books. Why couldn’t Google or anyone else scan and index video. “Look at who owns the book companies that are suing - ahhh, it’s Newscorp (Harper Collins), Viacom (Simon&Schuster), Time Warner (Little Brown).”

Kidsbooks Annual Sale

My favourite Vancouver kids bookstore is having its annual sale.

Thursday, January 19 to Sunday, January 22
Kidsbooks: 3083 West Broadway, Vancouver, or 3040 Edgemont Blvd., North Vancouver
20% off all stock plus further reductions on selected items.

If you’re a teacher or librarian or parent, this is the sale for you. Also the staff at Kidsbooks are incredibly knowledgeable. Ask them many questions. You don’t even have to put your hand up. It’s madness.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Harper Collins Canada First Look

Are you a Canadian resident? Do you want to preview and review books before they hit the bookstore? Check out HarperCollins Canada’s First Look program.

First Look
Read and review tomorrow’s books today

This is a very cool idea. Partly because I want to read and review tomorrow’s books today, but also because I think Harper does a good job from a user point of view. The sign up was easy. The books on offer are clearly displayed, and once logged in, it looks like it is easy to request a copy. The reviews are also organized in an interesting way. Check out the reader reviews.

I’ve lobbied to review Justine Picardie’s My Mother’s Wedding Dress. It is a nonfiction memoir about Picardie’s garments, in particular how clothes create narrative, for example, how tight plastic pants say just a little something about you.

Is there a garment lurking in your closet that you’d rather no one know about? Why not publicly rejoice the misguided nature of that purchase? Post a photo on your blog or a comment below with a description. Articles that have made it to the Salvation Army, but once existed in your closet, still count.

Macworld San Francisco

In the geek work today I watched the live transcript of Steve Jobs’ keynote address at Macworld.

I learned the following:
10:41 am Shows pic of Jobs and Woz. will be 30 years in 4-1-2006.
10:33 am Demoing the new MacBook Pro.

I want one. Ships in February. Has a small camera in it, the isight. Hair thinner than the 17” but is the fastest notebook ever. iWork and iLife are awesome, and now there’s iWeb. I can barely breathe. The crowd goes wild.

Apple also released Mac OS X 10.4.4 along with a number of other software (iTunes 6.0.2, Quicktime 7.0.4, iLife ‘06, iWork ‘06).

So I like the 12” iBook, which is where I was going to put my money, but now ...

If money wasn’t an option, which it is, but ignore that for now, which one would you choose? From a tech geek perspective rather than a fashion accessory perspective.

Daniel Isn’t Talking but the Author Is

Here’s another plug for Women Who Blog, but also for Marti Leimbach, author of Daniel Isn’t Talking. See my book review.

In the comments field of my review, Marti posted:

... Daniel Isn’t Talking is a very special novel to me because it is drawn, in part, from my own real life as a mother of an autistic boy.

I have a written a little about the novel on my website http://www.martileimbach.com if ever you want to have a look. I am also reading at the Harbourfront Centre on Wednesday April 26 at 7:30. If you happen to be there, please come and introduce yourself afterwards!

So not only is Marti talking on my blog, and at Harbourfront Centre, she also has a blog:

If you want to get an idea of her novel’s style, read the post about her son Nicholas learning to skate. She seems to post once a month. I didn’t see an RSS feed, which means I’ll have to remember to keep visiting instead of subscribing, also the Harbourfront website doesn’t seem to be updated yet for 2006, but here’s the link to events.

The book is coming, in the meantime, read the blog.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Book Review of Daniel Isn’t Talking

Daniel Isn't TalkingI’ve just finished reading Daniel Isn’t Talking by Marti Leimbach. There are lots of funny moments, educational moments, which I also enjoyed, and some craziness. I was initially quite skeptical about this book. The title is great, the cover is great (different cover on Amazon.ca—the version here, which I prefer, is the advance copy so we’ll have to wait to see the final one). I was skeptical because I seem to have encountered a lot of autism books lately. Each was fantastically well written and interesting.

Not Even Wrong by Paul Collins. A engaging portrait of his autistic son.

Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin. Temple is autistic and (I think) has a PhD in animal science. The book is how to use autism to understand animal behaviour.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. A very funny novel about an autistic boy trying to solve the mystery of a murdered dog.

I was skeptical because I did not think Daniel Isn’t Talking was going to stand up to these titles. It does and doesn’t. Daniel Isn’t Talking is well written and by the midway point I did appreciate the characters, but at the beginning I just thought why am I reading about this crazy mother. And she stayed crazy through the book.

I didn’t like Melanie Marsh, Daniel’s mother. She is insecure, over protective of her children, in need of more than a little therapy, and she is driven to further madness when her son is diagnosed with autism. It is at the point of diagnosis where my sentiments about Melanie shifted slightly. She struggles and fights for her son, and I appreciated her tenacity and strength. She doesn’t take the “this is how things are going to be” diagnosis. She looks for alternative ways to help Daniel along. I still found her annoyingly insecure. I like strong willed characters. Her daughter Emily was my favourite character, as were Daniel and Andy (the Irish fellow Melanie eventually hires to help Daniel).

Overall, here’s my plug for the book:
Daniel Isn’t Talking is a comic, yet serious novel. It is as funny as Three Men and a Baby, but as serious as a self-help workbook. Melanie Marsh finds herself as an American in London with a stuck up, absent husband, a genius daughter and a recently diagnosed autistic son. Daniel Isn’t Talking is about stray nappies, misguided families, and the British stiff upper lip. It is also about a boy clearing his own path through life, and his mother’s struggle to show him the way.

Daniel Isn’t Talking should be in stores in April. As part of the McClelland and Stewart 100 Readers Club, I got to read the advance copy.