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


Reading and Writing

Monday, January 14, 2013

Infographic: How Interactive EBooks Are Made

Aptara—a well-known company in publishing circles that specializes in content production for ebooks and apps—has posted an infographic on how interactive ebooks get built. Interactive eBooks combine mobile and graphic technologies to create reading experiences that go beyond just text on the page.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Craig Mod on Designing eBooks

Craig Mod is one of the book+tech people who I follow because he thinks a lot about the future of books and storytelling and how digital reading is different and, more important, how we can better design for that experience.

40 minutes worth taking out of your day. Watch this instead of some crappy reality tv show.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction Announced

The longlist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction has been announced. One hundred and forty-three books were nominated for the 2013 prize of $40,000 and from that list the longlist of ten books have been selected.

The longlist is as follows and full details are included on the attached news release:

A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape  
Candace Savage  

A Season in Hell: My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda  
Robert Fowler

A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring  
Nahlah Ayed    

Here We are Among the Living: A Memoir in Emails  
Samantha Bernstein  


Pinboy: A Memoir  
George Bowering  


Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age  
Modris Eksteins  


Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile  
Taras Grescoe    


Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy  
Andrew Preston    


The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen  
Stephen R. Bown  


Walls: Travels Along the Barricades  
Marcello Di Cintio

The finalists for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction will be announced December 4, 2012. The $40,000 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction is presented by the BC Achievement Foundation and will take place in Vancouver in early 2013.

Previous winners of the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction include:

• Charlotte Gill for Eating Dirt (2012)
• John Vaillant for The Tiger (2011)
• Ian Brown for The Boy in the Moon (2010)
• Russell Wangersky for Burning Down the House (2009)
• Lorna Goodison for From Harvey River (2008)
• Noah Richler for This Is My Country, What’s Yours? (2007)
• Rebecca Godfrey for Under the Bridge (2006)
• Patrick Lane for There Is a Season (2005)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mini TOC Vancouver Oct 19-20, 2012


October 19 & 20

Centre for Digital Media, 685 Great Northern Way
$150 for Both Days (Workshop + Conference) or $75 for Single Day

What’s Mini TOC?
Come out to Vancouver’s first mini-TOC. O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference is an annual event held in New York every year. Just like TEDx, mini-TOC is a way to bring the same type of stellar programming from the main event to the local stage. This is the first time the event has been held in Vancouver!

Who’s It For?
Smart, engaged, bookish and techy people are going to gather on October 19 and 20 for a series of workshop events on the Friday and a full conference day on the Saturday. If you’re a publisher, author, marketer, designer, programmer or interested in the convergence of books and technology, then this conference is for you.

October 19, 9:30 am to 5 pm: Friday Workshops

  • Start time is 9:30-10 am for registration, coffee and networking.
  • Then at 10 am, there are two tracks to choose from, either Tech: HTML5/Mobile or eBook Publishing.
  • Lunch from 1-2 pm.
  • The tracks continue on in the afternoon.

When registering, make sure to pick either the Tech or eBook track. I was a bit confused by the registration process. So to clarify, if you’re keen on both days, look for the ticket types that are $150, then select either the Tech or Ebook one. If you’re interested only in the workshop day or only in the conference day, then those are the $75 ticket types, and again if you’re choosing the Friday workshop, make sure to select your preference for the Tech or Ebook track.

October 20, 9 am to 5 pm: Conference Day

  • Start time is 9 am for registration and coffee. The conference gets underway at 9:30 with some introductory remarks and the Keynote from Corey Pressman of Exprima Media, “From Caves to Clouds: The Journey to Contentopia”

imageCorey Pressman taught Anthropology for 12 years before leaving teaching to start Exprima Media, a software company dedicated to creating robust and engaging educational experiences for the web and native mobile platforms. Exprima Media is currently working with publishers such as W.W. Norton, John Wiley & Sons, and McGraw Hill to build the future of educational interactive media. Also, under Corey’s direction, Exprima Media is participating in the ‘global mobile’ revolution, developing educational mobile applications for use in less economically developed nations.

  • I’m super excited for the next presenter, Igor Falestski of Mobify.com, who will be talking about designing for multiple screens. Meaning, how do publishers plan for and design for iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Android devices, desktop and whatever other devices are out there.

  • Great presentations follow on academic publishing and mobile apps, digital publishing models, challenges with discoverability in online marketplaces, book design, legal conundrums and the advantages and disadvantages of digital reading.

    To check out the full schedule:

    Registration for mini-TOC Vancouver

    * There is a 50% early bird discount that ends Friday.
    Ticket prices right now are the discounted price: $75 for one day or $150 for both

    Don’t Forget Ignite
    And, stick around after 5 pm on Saturday for the reception and IGNITE presentations. In case you’re unfamiliar with Ignite, it’s a style of presentation that is flash fire and timed. The format is 20 slides displayed for 20 seconds each. It’s a real performance!



  • Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Come to Word on the Street — Sunday, Sept 30

    Word on the Street is coming to select cities across Canada on Sunday, September 30. WOTS is a festival of writing and reading, which is free to the public.

    Library Square Vancouver

    If you’re in Vancouver, here’s what’s on tap for this year’s festival:

    From race horses to politics, to stories of the hippie days, suffragettes to road trips, squeezeboxes to love letters, and much more, Vancouver’s The Word On The Street is back for its 18th year with three days (Sept. 28-30) of reading and writing excitement!

    The main festival day is Sunday, Sept. 30 where word lovers will find author readings, writing and publishing exhibits, musical entertainment, roving performers, children’s activities, workshops, panels, books and magazines, and more in and around Library Square and CBC Plaza, Homer and Hamilton Streets between Robson and Georgia.

    Friday night programming (Sept. 28) will take place at Banyen Books and Historic Joy Kogawa House, and Saturday programming (Sept. 29) takes place at Carnegie Centre (Main and Hastings).

    Highlights include readings by (among approximately 100 authors!) Annabel Lyon, WP Kinsella, Yasuko Thanh, Billie Livingston, Arthur Black, George Bowering, Brian Calvert & Chris Cannon (the Canada Party), Anakana Schofield, Kevin Chong, and George Murray (direct from Newfoundland!). Readers for children include Robert Heidbreder, Sylvia Olsen, Susin Nielsen, and Caroline Adderson.

    David C. Jones will be the host of the Mainstage entertainment on the 30th featuring accordions, ukuleles, drumming, a poetry slam, and more.

    —from WOTS

    And my favourite: Word Under the Street is happening again in the downstairs area of the library.

    Word Under the Street

    Word Under the Street features local alternative comic book artists and illustrated zine producers. This year there will be sessions with comic book artists such as Gord Hill and Sam Bradd, plus panels and workshops such as a “love letter” workshop with Ricepaper Magazine and a memoir writing workshop with Naomi Beth Waken.

    If you’re near Carnegie Centre, WOTS has a chapbook-making workshop, a session on “how to do your best live reading” with Hal Wake, and ab open mic poetry night.

    Did I mention it’s all FREE? More details are here http://www.thewordonthestreet.ca/vancouver.

    The Word On The Street takes place in Vancouver, Toronto, Kitchener, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, and Halifax.

    Strong Man

    One more time ...

    What: The Word On The Street Vancouver
    When: Sept. 28-30, 2012
    Where: Sept. 28—Banyen Books and Historic Joy Kogawa House (times tba)/ Sept. 29—Carnegie Centre (10 am to 9 pm)/ Sept. 30—in and around Library Square and CBC Plaza, Homer and Hamilton Streets between Robson and Georgia (11 am to 5 pm).
    Info: 604-684-8266, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Admission: free

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Book Review: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt


    Open any page of Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and you’re in for a treat. The novel vacillates between poignant then hilarious moments in a way that kept me flipping the pages in a race to the end. I’m ready to start again. The Sisters Brothers is such a pleasurable read.

    Oregon City, 1851
    I was sitting outside the Commodore’s mansion, waiting for my brother Charlie to come out with news of the job. It was threatening to snow and was cold and for want of something to do I studied Charlie’s new horse, Nimble. My new horse was called Tub. We did not believe in naming horses but they were given to us as partial payment for the last job with the names intact, so that was that. Our unnamed previous horses had been immolated, so it wasn’t as though we did not need these new ones but I felt we should have been given money to purchase horses of our own choosing, horses without histories and habits and names they expected to be addressed by.

    The same way that the film True Grit was casual yet brutal, poetic yet slap-stick, so too is The Sisters Brothers. It’s a challenge to the conventional western, and, as Chad Pelley aptly says, “deWitt’s tale of two outlaw brothers challenged conventional CanLit to a duel in 2011, and it won.”

    Yes it won big.

    Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, plus shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize

    Back cover quotes often seem empty to me but Esquire nails it by saying “Thrilling ... A lushly voiced picaresque story ... A kind of True Grit told by Tom Waits.”

    The Sisters Brothers is a new frontier you must cross. I promise you there is gold at the end of this stream! I often give away my books as I’m not one to re-read, but The Sisters Brothers is a novel I must own. It’s also the one I’ll be giving away as gifts this year.

    Published by House of Anansi. Buy it here.
    The Sisters Brothers on Amazon.ca

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Celebrate Freedom to Read Week February 26-March 3

    The Writers' Union of Canada presents Lawrence Hill with Freedom to Read Award

    On February 22, the Writers’ Union of Canada presented Canadian author Lawrence Hill with the 2012 Freedom to Read Award.

    Freedom to Read Week 2012

    Even in Canada, a “free country” by many standards, there are restrictions, policies and social snubbing that we should question.

    Author Lawrence Hill is honoured this year on the basis of his reasoned and eloquent response to Dutch activist Roy Groenburg who objected to the use of the word “negro” in the Hill’s novel The Book of Negroes and threatened to burn the book (which he did in June 2011).

    Lawrence Hill offered to speak with Roy Groenburg and also wrote an op-ed piece in The Toronto Star.

    Burning books is designed to intimidate people. It underestimates the intelligence of readers, stifles dialogue and insults those who cherish the freedom to read and write. The leaders of the Spanish Inquisition burned books. Nazis burned books…

    For those who followed the story, you may recall that New Yorker blogger Ian Crouch compared the story to a similar incident where Florida pastor Terry Jones torched a copy of the Koran. Crouch notes that the two cases are similar in that their publicity stunts used the same tactic to attract attention.

    I’ve never understood the power of burning a book or a country’s flag. Why do people do this? Why does rational, political discourse devolve into disrespect? I suppose because one party decides to be irrational, to make assumptions. In the case of The Book of Negroes, it appears that Groenburg didn’t even read the book because he was so incensed by the title.

    In Hill’s op-ed piece, he notes that The Book of Negroes is published in the USA, Australia and New Zealand as Someone Knows My Name.

    Are we really this fragile? There’s no policy or restriction in US publishing that would require this title difference but somewhere in the publishing process it was deemed necessary. The social snub won out. How unimaginative.

    The title The Book of Negroes is drawn from that of a 1783 historical document, which lists the names of Black Loyalists who, having fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War, were to be transported to Nova Scotia.

    Surely the novel promises to be a transformative, or at least informative, read? As part of Hill’s response, he says:

    Rather than flinching from a document that addresses the history of African people, Mr. Groenberg and his followers should put down their matches, respect freedom of speech, and enter into a civil conversation about slavery, freedom and contemporary language. On that subject, Canadians and the Dutch have much to learn from each other.

    To me the most wonderful thing about books is people’s passion for them. The freedom to read should never be taken for granted. This is why I celebrate Freedom to Read Week, which encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom.

    Spend some time in the upcoming week considering what books are available and why in your school, library, or office. Think about your reading materials: books, newspapers, magazines and websites. Even consider the stories you watch on television or hear on the radio.

    And now think about Bill C-30 and what the government’s proposed initiative to enhance internet surveillance means to our freedoms. If the police and government can have unrestricted access to our email communications, for example, how does that play out in terms of what an investigative journalist will be able to research, his or her access to sources, the ability to unmask issues of public concern? This is only one example of how such a policy could have unintended (or intended) effects on your access to information.

    Challenge the complacency of those who say these measures make us more secure. More important, read more about both sides of the debate and make an informed opinion.

    Freedom to Read Week is about recognizing our right to read, write, speak and publish freely, which includes speaking out against challenges to these freedoms.

    For more on Freedom to Read Week, visit their website for Freedom to Read events, posts and school and library kits.

    And here’s the link to
    Google results for Bill C-30 because I really urge you to pay attention to this issue.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    25 Books Will Have Been Sold or Circulated in Canada By the time You Read This Sentence

    imageCanadian book sales and circulation numbers are in and the National Book Count findings provide an interesting look at Canadians’ interest in reading.

    The big picture: More than 3.4 million books are bought and loaned in a typical January week in Canada. 10% of English book sales are now in e-books.

    Or as the National Post puts it, “By the time you read this sentence, 25 books will have been sold or circulated in Canada.”

    How do we know that? Each year the National Book Count, sponsored by the National Reading Campaign (NRC), takes a snapshot of book sales and public library circulations for a typical week in Canada (not during holiday time, not summer reading, just a plain, old, regular week in January).

    A total of 3,405,687 books were counted as being sold or circulated for the week of January 23-29, 2012. That’s 5 books every second in a nation of 34,278,400.

    • Book sales were collected by 3 book sale aggregators: BookNet Canada, BookManager, and la Société de gestion de la Banque de titres de langue française (BTLF).
    • Book circulation was tracked by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC).

    This covers 28 public library systems (circulation to over 13.7 million Canadians), 80% of the English language book retail market and 45% of the French language book retail market across Canada.

    No individual consumer information was collected.

    This is also the first time e-book sales have been counted in Canada.

    E-book sales comprised 10% of all books sold in English Canada. To put that into perspective:

    • The “Global Assessment of E-Book Markets” presentation by Giovanni Bonfanti, A.T. Kearny / Marco Ferrario, BookRepublic, in January at Digital Book World ranked the top 3 e-book reading countries: United States at 20% penetration, South Korea at 14.5% and the United Kingdom at 7%.

    Since e-book lending has also been in the news lately, it’s good to finally have some numbers. The National Book Count reveals that public libraries reported that 3% of their circulation comprised digital formats.

    Where are the numbers from?

    • Online print book sales were captured from major online retailers including Amazon.ca and Indigo.ca.
    • Digital downloads from public libraries were provided by the CULC, and
    • English language e-book sales were provided by the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canadian Publishers’ Council, and e-book sales from Kobo, Kindle, Sony Reader and Apple devices were included.

    The second annual National Book Count shows that Canada is a nation of readers. Although the count is only over the course of 1 week, the combined tabulation across the spectrum of book retail and public libraries provides insights we don’t otherwise have into this industry.

    Major findings this year include:

    1,153,081 print books were sold by retailers including Indigo Books & Music, Amazon.ca and other national chains, as well as over 260 independent bookstores across the country. English language print book sales for the week increased 4% over 2011.

    111,053 English language e-book sales were counted. As this is the first year counting e-book sales, no direct comparison can be made, but publishers report a “significant” increase from 2011.

    2,141,553 print books were borrowed from 28 participating public library systems.** 63,196 e-books were downloaded. Canadian libraries saw an 8% increase in print circulation and a 50% increase in digital circulation for an overall increase of 9% total circulation for libraries that participated in 2011 and 2012.

    French language print book sales increased 35% over 2011. This number primarily reflects increased count coverage, not necessarily a surge in book purchases. No French language e-book book sales were captured this year.

    About the National Reading Campaign

    The National Reading Campaign had its beginnings in 2008, when a coalition of readers, parents, writers, editors, librarians, bookstore owners, teachers, publishers and distributors came together to assess and consider the changing reading habits of Canadians. Their third and final summit takes place in Vancouver May 2-4, 2012.

    Download the full press release (PDF)

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Gooselane Editions Special Promotion Week

    imageGooselane is running a special promotion this week. Each day they are offering one book at a discounted price. Today’s pick is Roadsworth featuring 450 reproductions of this Canadian artist’s work. It’s awesome urban art. Love it.

    Go buy it right now! Only $15.

    Watch for savings the rest of this week on:
    YOU comma Idiot
    The Famished Lover
    Miller Brittain
    The Black Watch
    Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy, and
    Ganong: A Sweet History of Chocolate

    Gooselane Editions Special Promotion Week

    imageGooselane is running a special promotion this week. Each day they are offering one book at a discounted price. Today’s pick is Roadsworth featuring 450 reproductions of this Canadian artist’s work. It’s awesome urban art. Love it.

    Go buy it right now! Only $15.

    Watch for savings the rest of this week on:
    YOU comma Idiot
    The Famished Lover
    Miller Brittain
    The Black Watch
    Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy, and
    Ganong: A Sweet History of Chocolate

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Penguin Canada Launches Razorbill.ca

    Penguin Canada has launched Razorbill.ca which is actually a Ning site. I was curious about Ning in its early days and belonged to a couple of networks there so nothing really came of it. I’m interested to see what Penguin Canada does here.

    Razorbill is a hub for conversations about YA fiction, pre-launch news and author chats with folks like Joseph Boyden (love him), Hiromi Goto, Charles de Lint and Carrie Mac.

    I joined because of some thematic convergence that the marketers will like to know about. 1) I got my Amazon news blast recommending hot titles in January. The first title was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I visited the book page because I liked the cover. Read the blurb to understand that it is YA fiction and has something to do with a girl who has cancer. Didn’t strike me as anything I needed to act urgently on so I carried on with my day. 2) I got an email from Robyn at Citizen Optimum introducing me to Razorbill, and including a link to grab a blogger badge, like you see below. John Green’s The Fault in our Stars is mentioned in the email. Hm. 3) I check out Razorbill and because I’m procrastinating about the day job, I sign up for an account. Then I complete the tedious form to eventually find the link to the badges. And here we are.


    So anyone checked out Razorbill.ca? What do you think? Worth it?

    I’m tired of all the little “community” sites. It’s like having a ton of party invites from different friends and eventually just staying home. Authors—do these sites help you? Marketers—do the analytics suggests these influence purchases directly or indirectly?


    Friday, January 20, 2012

    An Apple for the Teacher: Apple’s big announcement

    by Rego - d4u.hu, on Flickr">iPad <img src=">

    Instead of an apple for the teacher, it’s time for an Apple. Or more specifically, an Apple iPad.

    On Thursday, Jan 19, 2012, Apple unveiled its plans to remake the educational landscape. There were 3 announcements that interest me as a book person and affect me as a professor.

    1. A free app called iBooks Author will let me, or anyone, create a digital interactive textbook. My gears are already turning as apparently from the live blogs, it’s very fast to create an ebook, which means I can cross off that New Year’s resolution from 2011 (I believe in carry over resolutions. I still have to make bread, which was a resolution in 2008.)

    2. An update to iTunes U, which lets educators share and communicate curriculum with students using the iPad. There are a number of courses that people can take for free via iTunes U. This means I should check out whether I want to offer an online marketing course via iTunes U as you can apparently design and distribute complete courses, including audio, video, books and other content. I assume there’s a paid version too? Will need to check, unless some kind soul will tell me in the comments.

    3. A new textbook store called iBooks 2, which is also a free app that will feature digital ebooks for schools. Major textbook publishers are on board, and I’m excited about the enhanced ebook possibilities for textbooks.

    For enhanced ebooks, iBooks really offers the best capabilities. I really hope textbook publishers create some cool stuff here!

    I’m excited about the announcement. What do you think?

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Type Books Animated Stop-Motion Video

    I spent a couple of evenings reorganizing our bookshelves at home to be colour coordinated and organized by genre. Apparently so did crazedadman (read that one more time craze dad man). Not only did he organize his own shelves, he then thought to get his wife and a ton of volunteers involved in making this stop-motion video of animated books.


    Mark has directed me to another awesome site of photos of incredible bookshelves: http://bookshelfporn.com/tagged/unique

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Reading Is Sexy 2012 Calendar

    You might remember the 2010 Reading is Sexy calendar.

    I was Miss January.


    The fine folks at TravelingStories.org have sent me the 2012 calendar that is helping raise funds for their organization, which provides books to kids who have none and strives to inspire a love for reading everywhere.


    Traveling Stories finds schools and/or orphanages that want a library but cannot afford one on their own. Usually the school or orphanage already has a room for the library, they just don’t have the books or staff to run it. So far they have launched libraries in Sudan and El Salvador. In the US, their strategy is to inspire kids to read by hosting interactive literary events.

    If you’d like to learn more about Traveling Stories, check out their FAQ.

    And if you like sexy, pin-ups of reading peeps, then by all means get your copy for only $15. Order here.



    Saturday, August 06, 2011

    My Favourite Canadian Reads

    Looking at my shelves this evening, I discovered that I have a number of Canadian favourites. If you’re looking for a great summer read, these are all books that I have read and kept because I liked them so much.

    Amazon.ca Widgets