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

Friday, July 28, 2006

Nielsen Podcast Survey Presented Dodgey Numbers

On July 13, I read a story on a couple of blogs about the inaccuracies of a recent Nielsen study on podcasts, then Wednesday (13 unlucky days later) I saw that CanWest papers, including The Vancouver Sun, had published the original study numbers and a recap of a Washington Post article. Seems unfortunate that the Washington Post didn’t do their research to see that the numbers were faulty, seems even more unfortunate that CanWest then passed off bogus info as news.

Here’s the press release posted on MarketWatch.com: “Nielsen//NetRatings announced today that 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population, or 9.2 million Web users, have recently downloaded an audio podcast. 4.0 percent, or 5.6 million Web users, have recently downloaded a video podcast. These figures put the podcasting population on a par with those who publish blogs, 4.8 percent, and online daters, 3.9 percent.”

The Washington Post requires a subscription but here’s their headline from July 23 (10 days after it was public knowledge online that the numbers were inaccurate): “As Podcasts Spread, Advertisers Sniff Money” by Kim Hart, F07 (Post, 07/23/2006): “The podcast is heading for the mainstream. A report released by Nielsen Analytics last week found that podcasts—online broadcasts downloaded from the Internet for playback on portable devices—are ...”

Here’s the story I read announcing that the numbers were inaccurate.

From Frank Barnako’s blog: “Nielsen “podcast” survey not only about podcasts. Just had a conversation with Michael Lanz, the analyst on the podcast survey by Nielsen/NetRatings whose findings were released yesterday.  He said that while the firm’s news release said more than 9 million audio and 5 million ‘podcasts’ were downloaded, well—maybe they weren’t all podcasts.”

Seems that Nielsen didn’t clearly define podcast, which means that music downloads were included in the 9 million figure.

I love that with blogs, blog writers are smarter because blog readers keep them on the right path.

Two Public Lectures

From SFU, here’s an announcement about two lectures open to the public:

August 9
ENDING THE TWO SOLITUDES: A Quebecois Publisher’s Ideas for Cross-Cultural Publishing in Canada
A rare opportunity for English language publishers, academics , writers and educators to find out what they should know to approach the French-language market.
7 to 9 pm
Room 1800 SFU Vancouver
Fee $10.00

August 10
Convergence of cutting-edge technology, new markets, global distribution, and mass publicity have opened the door for real change in book publishing. This lecture will start with a discussion of print on demand’s latest technological advances and move quickly to the implications of global infrastructure changes. Particular focus will be given to  publishing applications-everything from the works of first-time authors to corporate and regional publishing.
7:30 to 9:30 pm
Room 1800, SFU Vancouver
Fee: $10.00

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lumos, Harry Potter Conference Starts Tomorrow

Summer reading to me screams Harry Potter but this summer, without a new book to read, I’m left reading all the Harry Potter fan sites, which I actually really like. There’s all sorts of great plot speculations and preview photos of the films and fan fiction to tie me over.

One of the things I’m looking forward to reading about is Lumos, the Harry Potter conference taking place in Las Vegas July 27 - 30, 2006. 

I know about Lumos from Heidi at http://www.FictionAlley.org

There are lots of great sites but I want to highlight FictionAlley.org for a second.

In 2005, a teenage fan fiction writer Katie O’Brien lost her battle with leukemia. At the time FAWC, the non-profit educational arm of FictionAlley.org created three scholarships for young, talented creators, in her memory.

The winners of the 2006-2007 Katie O’Brien Memorial scholarship are:

* Ashley Yutzy, of the Maryland Institute College of Art
* Michelle A., who will be attending Florida State University this fall
* Rachel W. of Colorado’s Naropa University

Each received an award of $500.

I’m mentioning them now because examples of their works will be on display in the FictionAlley.org booth at Lumos.

You can also see some of the work online:
Ashley’s portfolio

A selection from Michelle’s winning submission for the Community Service scholarship.

A selection from Rachel’s winning submission for the Writing scholarship

So if you’re looking for a Harry Potter fix, check out http://www.fictionalley.org

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hey Tappers Melissa Frakman Is In Vancouver

SAT, JULY 22 at Harbour Dance


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Anthony Bourdain Podcast

Yesterday was an early day for me. I woke up at 6 am to be ready for a phone interview with Frank Barnako of MarketWatch.com.

It was exciting to have a tech/marketing conversation about this thing I’ve been working on since November.

So what’s that thing?
Raincoast and At Large Media are producing a literary podcast series, and over the month of July we’ve been releasing the 3 parts of a podcast with Anthony Bourdain (author of Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits and host of the Travel Channel show No Reservations).

The podcasts caught Frank’s attention because he writes the Internet Daily column for MarketWatch and because he’s a fan of Anthony Bourdain. So I got to have my few minutes of fame talking about a famous chef and the not-yet-famous Raincoast podcasts.

Here’s the link to the MarketWatch.com article.

And here’s the link to the Raincoast podcasts page. I think Part 2: The Book Signing is my favourite but perhaps a listener survey is in order.

While I’m plugging Raincoast, there’s also a Raincoast blog that I write, http://blogs.raincoast.com

Enough said about the day job.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Find an article you like? Want to know what similar articles people have linked to on Del.icio.us? You need Similicio.us

It’s kind of crazy, but an interesting addition to Technorati searches.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I just returned home from a meeting at the Shebeen Club. We had a great discussion about censorship, and then I stumbled across this clip of George W. Bush and Tony Blair discussing the Middle East crisis at the G8 Summit. It’s lunchtime, it’s candid, it’s oops you’re mic is on.

Link to Reuters video clip.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Art of Comix and Cartooning

Eve Corbel (illustrator of this cartoon and also known as Mary Schendlinger) is giving a workshop on the Art of Comix & Cartooning.

22 July at the Listel Hotel

Full details are on the Geist website at:

It sounds like fun, and participants get a Geist cartooning kit.

Vancouver Folk Festival 2006

Festival Fairy

Opportunity rang yesterday around 2 pm with an invitation to the Vancouver Folk Festival. I used to be a volunteer at the festival but in the last couple of years my life accelerated to a pace that made it impossible to volunteer the number of hours required.

One of my favourite folk fest memories is working Sunday morning and standing on the main stage when the gates open. The William Tell Overature plays on the main stage speakers and folk fest fans storm the seating area in front of the stage to stake their claim of space for the day. There are coordinated efforts with mom and dad each hanging onto a tarp corner and taking flying leaps to spread the tarp in warp speed. Sons and daughters in tow, coolers bouncing off legs. Flags and marker posts go up. And in 2 minutes the entire area is covered with a patchwork quilt of blanket squares.

Admist the bizarre, multi-tie-dyed, misguided fashionists, you catch glimpses of beauty itself. Yesterday there was the red-haired girl and this princepessa.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Publishing Statistics

Stats on the publishing industry are collected at the below site. Most are American and there’s a disclaimer that numbers may not be up to date and that sources are only listed when known and often may not appear on the websites referenced. Sounds dodgey but I want to remember the link:


Social Tech Brewing

If you’re free Monday and are interested in a little networking, beer and hang-out session, come to Social Tech Brewing.

Social Tech Brewing Vancouver
Border-Busting: a conversation with Katrin Verclas
July 17th, Radha Eatery

What is Social Tech Brewing? It’s a meet-up of people working with non-profits and technology, and it’s fun.

This month’s event features a conversation with Katrin Verclas, the incoming director of The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (N-TEN), an American group that works to support the diverse people and organizations who help nonprofits employ technology effectively.

According to Rob, “Katrin will lead an informal discussion about whether/how US npos can work more effectively here in Canada. She’ll also introduce us to a new project from the N-TEN Technobabes Community: ‘BraCamp,’ which we’re hoping will lead to a broader conversation about gender issues in nonprofit technology.”

The presentation and Q&A starts at 7:15 and wraps up by 8. Pre- and post-presentation there are drinks at Radha at the Brickhouse.

RSVP on http://upcoming.org/event/87669

Date: July 17 2006, 7:00-9:00pm
Venue: Radha Eatery, 730 Main Street, Vancouver, BC. (map)
Cost: Free!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Made to Break Makes the Globe and Mail

Heather Menzies, author of No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life, wrote a very positive review of Giles Slades’ book Made to Break in Saturday’s Globe and Mail. She starts by saying “Giles Slade has produced a riveting piece of cultural history to explain the veritable mushroom cloud of electronic waste threatening our planet, while hinting suggestively at why the public seems so detached from the crisis and even its role in creating it.”

She goes on to give a great summary of the narrative path Giles takes through consumer obsolescence: paper shirt fronts, the Yankee (a cheap pocket watch that ran for a limited time), razor blades, rubbers, santitary napkins, Flapper-era extravagance, seasonal fashion, yearly automobile model changes, death dating components, cell phones, tvs, bikinis, and basically all the things we’ve invented that generate more and more waste.

One of Menzies’ best observances of Made to Break is that “it’s troubling enough to consider that planet-exhausting and even planet-poisoning obsolescence is implicitly institutionalized at the highest levels of business and government leadership in the United States” (I’d include Canada, Great Britain and the rest of the first world) but “more troubling still is how we, the general consuming pulic, are wrapped up in it in a way that almost guarantees we won’t sense the connection.”

Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth forces its audience to look at the connections between human activity and global warming. Giles Slades’ book Made to Break forces its audience to remember all the times that greed and economics have trumped responsible citizenship. The throwaway culture we live in means that we love the new iPod, the new Nokia phone, HD tv, we want and demand more, smaller, faster, better, but to what end.

We’ve allowed, in fact encouraged, shorter and shorter life cycles for products, to the point where it has become cheaper to produce something new rather than to tear down, re-purpose or recycle the old. The economics of our creativity has meant good things for business but bad things for the planet.

If you’re into saving the world, consider the reasons why you’ve bought a new car, a new computer, a new cell phone—at what point did we start accepting such rapid obsolescence of products?—but also consider how often you buy new shoes,  new pens, new razors, new boxes of cereal, anything that is packaged and which gets thrown away.

The idea is to move from the ethic of discarding to the ethic of durability. Our challenge is to encourage advancement and innovation while not contributing to landfills. Can we do it?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

An Introduction to RSS

In case you’re impatient, here’s the link I’m going to tell you about at the bottom of the post:

Now let me get there by the scenic route:
Just a few days ago I was talking to a friend of mine about the barriers to entry regarding technology adoption and understanding—basically all the ways that computer geeks neglect late adopters and how they (we?) do a bad job at involving them in the conversation.

My friend pointed out that those on the leading edge of technology trends tend to talk to people as advanced or more advanced (we get excited; we’re obsessed; we want to know more; we don’t understand why other people don’t get it, we think they’re so 1997). I grudgingly agreed that that may be true because early adopters are often running so fast to keep up with those at the front of the pack that they forget to look behind them.

The big question of the night was “for those interested-but-not-obsessed folks (the majority of the population), how do they catch up?”

Where are the on-ramps to the conversation?

Where are the primers and introductions?

In my case, my coworkers are only indifferent to search engine optimization, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, podcasts—whatever—when they don’t understand the value or benefit of the technology to their lives, how it affects their workflow, their business ... But once they get it, watch out.

The same is true for new media courses, technology articles, and web strategy websites. Often the “target audiences” don’t recognize themselves as the intended audience. So how do we change that?

First off, smart people like Alexandra Sameul, CEO of SocialSignal.com create the primers and introductions to the key topics. Second, people like me catch you off guard and earnestly suggest that instead of reading a book review on this site you go off and read about RSS. (Even if you’re a computer whiz, read the article to get an idea of how to present a technical piece of information in a personable way.)

Here is THE BEST explanation of RSS I’ve ever read.
It’s a one page overview of RSS and how to get started. What is RSS, Why RSS, and How to Start Using RSS.

Totally brilliant. The best 10 minutes you’ll spend today. Don’t delay. Read it now.

SFU New Media replacement course

If you were interested in the SFU New Media workshop, which sadly has been cancelled this year. Let me recommend WebVisions 2006 “Explore the Future of the Web”, which is taking place July 20 to 21, 2006 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR.


Here’s how the organizers describe the conference: “Join the rockstars of design, user experience and business strategy: Jared Spool, Hillman Curtis, Luke Williams, Kelly Goto and a cavalcade of their fellow visionaries for two days of mind-melding on what’s new in the digital world. Get a glimpse into the future, along with practical information that you can apply to your Web site, company and career.”

The schedule looks packed with goodness. View the schedule.

DL Byron is going to be there and he’s great. I met him at the Blog Business Summit (which I also highly recommend), and of course the other speakers are also noteworthy.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

HarperCollins Canada Starts Podcasting

I’m a little behind announcing this, but in case you haven’t heard, HarperCollins Canada is working with Foursevens Podcast Network to produce a podcast series.

The podcasts will be released twice a month and feature author interviews.

Among the authors tentatively scheduled:

* Gautam Malkani – Londonstani
* Jon Evans – Invisible Armies
* Sara Gruen – Water for Elephants (This is on my summer reading list. Circus life during the Depression. Here’s the description from the Harpers website: “Orphaned and penniless at the height of the Depression, Jacob Jankowski escapes everything he knows by jumping on a passing train and inadvertantly runs away with a struggling, second-rate circus. But Jacob finds work in the menagerie, where he becomes a savior for the animals. He also comes to know Marlena, the star of the equestrian act—and wife of August, a charistmatic but cruel animal trainer.” I’m looking forward to reading the book and then listening to the podcast. I like that the circus is second rate.)
* Lydia Millet – Oh, Pure and Radiant Heart
* Dennis Bock – The Communist’s Daughter
* Rebecca Godfrey – Under the Bridge

I think podcasts are a great way for readers to engage with authors. Sometimes I want to listen to an author before I read the book, sometimes I want to listen after I’ve read the book. It’s dependent on who the author is and what I already know about them. Regardless, I’m always searching online for more information about authors I love and books that I’ve read or want to read.

While we’re talking podcasts, if you’re a fan of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, part 1 of the 3-part podcast from Raincoast Books and At Large Media is available today. www.raincoast.com/podcast/. Have a listen: direct link to MP3. Bourdain talks about the crazy questions he gets about himself and his books. There’s some life philosophy, reader questions and little insider tidbits about Bourdain’s life.

UPDATE: My mistake, HarperCollins started podcasting in January with Jay Ingram. Steve Osgoode wrote me a note saying they did 21 episodes. Thanks for the correction Steve. You can hear the first podcast by visiting: