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

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Forest-Friendly Publishing

April 21 is Earth Day. It’s better being green.

My favourite independent US bookstore, Powells, has posted a Green Press Initiative section in recognition of publishers who support the forest-friendly paper initiative. Read about Green Press Initiative.

I was also pleased to see mention of Alice Munro on the wire today. Canadian Press is reporting “The fictional wizard Harry Potter and real-life renowned writer Alice Munro are helping to spearhead a made-in-Canada environmental campaign designed to save the world’s endangered old-growth forests.” Go team!

Markets Initiative is the Vancouver-based environmental group who is working with the Canadian publishing industry to shift from printing on paper that originates from ancient forests to more ecologically sound alternatives, like 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

I’d like to point out that recycled paper is not what it was originally. It is not grey or brown or trashy like newspapers. High-quality recycled paper is out there, and it makes a lot of sense to support the publishers and authors who take a stand—Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Farley Mowat, Barbara Gowdy, Alice Munro, McClelland & Stewart, Raincoast Books, 35 Canadian mags including Canadian Geographic, Walrus, Harrowsmith Country Life, Owl and Cottage Life. I know I’m missing people and I apologize. The point is the economies of scale, the more demand for this paper, the more the printers will source it, the less it will cost, the better it will be for the world.

Here are some of the facts from the CP story:
80% of the world’s large tracts of old-growth forest have already been logged.

Canada, Russian and Brazil hold the vast majority of what’s left

Northern Canada is home to 25% of the world’s remaining frontier ancient forests

Globally, 71% of the world’s paper comes from ecologically valuable forests, rather than from tree farms.

Check the back cover or the copyright page for the tag line on forest-friendly books. It usually something like “This book is printed on acid-free paper that is 100% recycled, ancient-forest friendly (100% post-consumer recycled).”

It’s Earth Day on Thursday. Love the rock you live on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Site in Progress

So my learning curve on blogging has been a bit like the silhouette of a hockey stick, I’m still on the straight and narrow, no upward curve yet.

Well, slight upward curve. I discovered today that the comments feature is not working correctly. Why? Because there was an error in the template I downloaded. So part of that is fixed. Also I realize there was no preview comment ... that is sort of fixed. I have a template but it sucks and needs some help. But it does basically what you’d hope it would do. Preview the comment.

My apologies also to my new “members”. I’m glad that you’ve discovered this option. But I have no idea how it works. Welcome to my club. I’d love to tell you what membership entails, but it’s an elusive entity.

At this point, things can only improve. I hope you visit again.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Litblog Co-op

The Litblog Co-op was all over the news this week. I love it. I’ve been following the progress on Bookdwarf and Elegant Variation.

What is it? The Litblog Co-op: “Uniting the leading literary weblogs for the purpose of drawing attention to the best of contemporary fiction, authors and presses that are struggling to be noticed in a flooded marketplace.”

Ya, so what is it? On May 15, the 20 participating litblogs will announce the 5 titles they think everyone should read. Apparently this will happen 4 times a year.

What I like is that the objective is to give little-known books more attention. Like my favourite book, Up In Ontario.

Friday, April 15, 2005

It’s all in the Pig

Perhaps a little pig action? Draw a pig and see what it tells about your personality.

Da Vinci Celebrates Another

Google, the Code, the B-day

Happy 553rd Birthday Da Vinci. Google’s got a Da Vinci illustration today. Yahoo.

Da Vinci was a man after my own heart. He was good at a lot of things but not great. Well, ok, that Mona Lisa was pretty great, but it was only one of six finished paintings. Now I like to complete tasks, but what I admire is that Da Vinci could do a little bit of everything. I aspire to that kind of wide-spread brilliance.

I often engage in conversations about thematic convergence so let me tell you the Da Vinci connection.

I woke up this morning wondering about that damn Da Vinci Code and why it’s so popular. I have read it, and have bought it as a gift, so I’m not slamming the book. I’m just interested in pinpointing its tipping point. As I was mulling over the Code, I turned on the computer and Google popped up with the Da Vinci banner. I look up Da Vinci Code in amazon and saw that the publication date was March 18, 2003. The book has been on bestseller lists for two years. How does this happen? Then I found this article on PopMatters.

Read the article on PopMatters, which, by the way, comments on the many trees “felled to print the billions of pages demanded by hungry readers.”

Why don’t publishers print books on 100% post-consumer recycled paper and stop clearing the world of its old growth forests. Maybe Da Vinci Code is? I don’t know. But wouldn’t it be great to demand that any book being mass produced be printed on old-growth free paper, preferrably something recycled? 18 million copies is a lot of trees.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Jane Jacobs wins the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. This is the top political writing prize in Canada and worth $15,000. Not bad for one’s evening take home pay.

The Shaughnessy Cohen prize is award annually to the most outstanding political book based on literary merit and enhancement of one’s understanding of political and social issues in Canada.

If you liked Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress, you’ll like Jane Jacob’s Dark Age Ahead. It has sat on the bestseller list for awhile, but aside from that the book is described as a grave warning to a society losing its memory. I quite frequently talk about “collective memory” and its fallibility regarding politics. But Jane and Ronald truly outperform in terms of hammering that message home.

Jane’s book is her reflection on society and her lessons on how to avoid decline. And we’re not talking physical body decline (although Jane is 88), we’re talking society’s decline. She looks at North American culture and compares it to European culture before the fall of the Roman Empire. And those who remember history will recall the “Dark Ages” followed.

I’m humming “The Imperial March” from the Empire Strikes Back. I would like to believe civilization continues, but I could do with a little less empire.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Alice Munro on Time magazine’s most influencial people list

Alice Munro, multiple award winner and author of all sorts of good CanLit, is on Time magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people. She’s up there with George W, Oprah and Bill Gates.

What do you think? Who would be on your list? Who are the people who most influenced you? Better yet, who have you influenced?

Read the CBC story

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Managing Expectations ... What do book surveys tell us?

There’s Something about Books ...

I have this little rant going on in my head about book surveys, but try as I might I have not been able to get it down on paper. I also can’t seem to find the “draft” button in ExpressionEngine so I’m going to embrace the non-static nature of the internet and post something that is in progress.

Here’s what I’m thinking. I read this article in the Saturday Globe and Mail by Kate Taylor. It was about a book-spending survey. I can’t find the StatCan survey she is referring to.

That aside, her point is that surveys never really tell you anything. I agree. Kate talks about the 2001 spending on books being an increase from the spending in 1997. Hello StatCan, 2001! A window on what went on 4 years ago ... [I have more to say on this].

And another thing, the numbers are always averages. The book industry looks good, there’s an increase in spending. Hey, I have one foot in boiling water and one foot frozen in ice. On average it looks like I’m in a comfortable position].

Aside from old data, the thing that never really gets dealt with is that there is a supply and demand problem with the publishing industry. There are at least 10 good new books that come out every season (Spring, Fall). Most people can’t read 10 books in 3-6 months and be ready for the next 10. And what about the 10 from a couple of years ago that you just heard about now?

How does a reader keep up? How many books do we really expect people to read in a year?

How many books do you read in a year?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

First Entry

To misquote Gauguin, where do I come from? Who am I? Where are we going? The answer might become clear later. For now, here’s my first post.

Exciting. A first entry. I know I have not been original in my title, but hey, I’m still using the unmodified “Butterfly” template, chosen at random during the install process. I like butterflies but I think that will be the first thing to go.

Starting a blog is a bit like moving into a new house. I like the neighbourhood, it’s the right size for what I’m looking for, and well ... I can change the paint colour.

I’ve been rather busy lately so the reno on the blog is going to be a slow process. For example, how do I change that About section?

Ok, who cares for now. I need to thank
Travis and Susie. They recommended ExpressionEngine, which I like so far. I need to learn how to use it, but that will come. More than that, Travis patiently walked me through the installation process. It wasn’t particularly difficult, but I am less than experienced when it comes to permissions and system preferences. So I asked for help.

Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from poor judgement.

I made a good decision.