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


Monday, March 16, 2009

SXSW: No Think for Old Publishers

New Think for Old Publishers panel at SXSW drew a lot of frustration from the crowd of book lovers and supporters.

The official description of the session was:

This is not a discussion of whether ebooks are killing treebooks, or whether it’s possible to get cozy with an Amazon Kindle. It’s about how participatory culture and the online world interact with good olde book publishing.Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, Deborah Schultz, and fellow panelists will share with the audience a variety of perspectives on what’s going right and what’s going wrong in publishing, assess success of recent forays into marketing digitally, digital publishing, and what books and blogs have to gain from one another. Penguin Group (USA), which houses some 40 plus imprints and publishes an extremely broad variety of physical and digital products everything from William Gibson’s first ebook in the 90’s to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food to Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels (the source for HBO’s True Blood) is deeply involved in exploring ways that old and new media might better collaborate. Audience members are invited to speak up about what they think book publishers could/should be doing to better provide relevant information and content to blogs, websites, and online communities. Come tell old media what you want and how you want it.

Clay Shirky ITP
John Fagan   Mktg Dir,  Penguin Group (USA)
Deborah Schultz   Founder/Chief Catalyst,  deborahschultz.com
Peter Miller   Dir of Publicity,  Bloomsbury USA
Ivan Held   Pres GP Putnam’s Sons,  Penguin Group (USA)

They certainly told publishers what they think. The summation was “you suck at this is the biggest way possible.”

I think it’s unfair to attack the folks on that panel but as representatives of the industry they do have to go back to their houses and understand that they need to convey, not that bloggers are an unruly bunch, but that publishers need to get off their asses and get involved with social media. Enough is enough.

BookSquare says
If you’re going to hold a session called “New Think for Old Publishers”, you gotta come with some new thinking. Either that or tell the audience that it’s a research session…and the audience is supposed to bring the new thinking. Good idea, needed better execution. Nobody read the panel description to mean “we want the audience to tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it”.


The publishing people on stage said, essentially, tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it. You have 300 people who give up an hour of their lives to hear the cool things the traditional publishing business is doing…and you can ask them to consult on your business?

Watch a video of the panel here.

Other links to conversation about this panel:
Medialoper has a fairly neutral assessment of what unfolded.

Twitter stream of comments on this panel #sxswbp

Monique’s summary
What went wrong is this:
* Publishers have not listened to the crowd for a long time.
* The crowd is restless.
* Publishers wring their hands about the web.
* The crowd offers options publishers don’t like.
* Publishers weep into their hands.
* The crowd wants to help and offers other suggestions.
* Publishers act like deer in headlights.
* The crowd plows down publishers and reinvents the industry without them.

What this panel really came down to is that the wisdom of the crowds is not being tapped. The crowd is now sick and tired of trying to help people who won’t help themselves.

Hold me to this: I’m going to organize a panel in Vancouver. We’re going to create a model for publishing and marketing books. We’re going to move forward as an industry. Leaders will be identified. Roles will be assigned. If you’re not open to totally change everything you’re doing, then you are not ready for this revolution. Don’t come.

Who’s in?


Peter Miller Glibness. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Tips from a panelist who barely survived” in Publishers Weekly.
Read the article.

Michael Tamblyn of BookNet Canada on 6 Things That Revolutionize Publishing

Monday, March 19, 2007

Book Review: The Sunday List of Dreams by Kris Radish

Bringing sexy back.

We had quite the Sunday night. I finished Kris Radish’s book The Sunday List of Dreams, and we saw the movies Perfume and Little Children. All three are thematically linked by stories of sexual repression.

In Perfume the protagonist is killing women in order to capture their scent. In Little Children unfaithful partners are endulging in the sex they don’t get at home and sexual predators are trying to control themselves.

As I say, it was quite the Sunday.

Kris Radish’s book stands well above the movies though.

The Sunday List of Dreams is about Connie, retired nurse, getting on with her list of dreams.

1. Stop being afraid.
2. Let go.
3. Get rid of SHIT. Starting with the garage.

Funny enough it’s the shit in the garage that gets her into shit.

Connie discovers a box of files belonging to her oldest daughter Jessica. Jessica lives in New York and is a very busy CEO of a manufacturing company. Connie lives in the Mid-West. Her other two daughters are happily married with children. But Jessica has gone astray. They don’t talk as much as Connie would like.

Well it turns out the box of files contains early business plans and sketches for Jessica’s company. She sells sex toys.

That’s enough to jump start Connie. She on a plane to New York to find out what the hell Jessica is up to. Mother madness. Full panic. Rescue Jessica.

There is a very funny oh-my-god moment (for both mother and daughter) as Connie enters Jessica’s store for the first time.

Nothing like seeing your mother surrounded by dildos. Nothing like visiting your daughter’s sex shop for the first time.

Things, of course, fall apart and come together, and despite very few plot surprises, The Sunday List of Dreams is a good romp.

One of my favourite lines in the book:

Look at yourself. Not your face, sweetie, your self ... If you are giving driving directions to someone else it really helps to know the map.
The Sunday List of Dreams by Kris Radish