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


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Douglas & McIntyre Launches “Imagine That” Campaign

Chris Labonté, Douglas & McIntyre’s Assistant Publisher & Acquiring Editor, imagines a fiction program that features extraordinary writers. “Extraordinary writers willing to push the bounds of literature; to mess around with form and content and style; to bend genre and explore new ways of telling good stories.”

The result is the Fall 2009 “Imagine That” campaign and the Speak Easy podcast, hosted by John Burns.

Featured in my press kit are the following books.

Daniel O’Thunder: a Novel by Ian Weir


Heading South: a Novel by Dany Laferriere, translated by Wayne Grady


Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas


Also in my kit was a reminder that Douglas & McIntyre has been publishing Quebecois and French-Canadian literature in translation for nearly two decades. Included on the list are several works by Monique Proulx (I want to read Invisible Man at the Window) and works by Daniel Poliquin.

I’m looking forward to more podcasts and great fiction. Thanks for keeping me in the loop D&M.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Alain de Botton: A Week at the Airport

Author Alain de Botton was installed at Heathrow Airport as its writer in residence for a week. And, the book he wrote at Heathrow was launched yesterday in the airport’s Terminal 5.


(Source: Springwise)

Alain de Botton’s Websites



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Publishing Websites

Our publishing friends have been launching new websites like crazy. I can’t keep up. But I do want to call out two in particular.

Haig, Cam and Frederick, our friends at Lift Studios, redesigned the snazzy new ABPBC website.


Diana Douglas and team have significantly updated the website for Self-Counsel Press.


Notable features include:

  • Latest industry news headlines. Stay up-to-date with the most recent headlines in small business and personal legal issues. Read up on personal finance and real estate issues.
  • Free articles and expert resources. Take advantage of tips and guides provided by Self-Counsel’s authors, editors, and experts. Topics ranging from divorce and legal wills to starting your own small business, and social media marketing are available for free on the site and in downloadable PDF format.
  • Interactive forum. Users can connect with Self-Counsel authors and industry experts on subjects ranging from the latest trends in do-it-yourself legal topics to specific questions about starting and running a small business.
  • Digital products. The new website features downloadable products, including small business and legal forms.
  • Sample chapters. Users can download sample chapters of every book Self-Counsel publishes.
  • Social media bookmarks. A “share” button under every article, news headline, and book allows users to share information with friends and family in an easy and efficient way. Users can also find links to book review blogs, book giveaways, and relevant videos.
  • Tags. Users can add tags to each of the books on the site as a way of categorizing or labeling them for future reference.
  • Book reviews. Readers can share their opinions as well as read what others have said about Self-Counsel’s books.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Gratis vs Libre: Giving Books Away for Free

BookCampTO was this weekend and it stimulated my brain.

Mitch Joel, who I admire greatly, was in attendance and we had a couple of excellent thought exchanges, one of which is playing out on his blog.

Here’s a fleshed out version of my comment “Gratis vs. Libre.”

The thing of value that publishers and authors have is the content of their books. Setting the value of that content at zero is not the way to go. (Although there are interesting examples of free PDFs that lead to great value for the publisher and author. See the D&M case study on The Tar Sands (PDF).—Thank you Alison for sharing!)

Giving the content away for free (in whatever format the book takes) is like my fellow apartment dwellers who toss books into the “free” box in the laundry room. Those books are gratis. They are one step above being thrown away. The value exchange between giver and taker is “meh”.

Freeing the content, as in libre, is what publishers and authors are after. It’s the quest to give—as in a gift—that allows the value exchange of the content to remain in tact.

Why did the D&M campaign meet its goals with the free PDF? Partly because it’s still early days for free PDFs. D&M captured our attention by giving away the entire book because there are few people doing that as a marketing strategy. There is value in the rarity.

More important though is that there was a strategy to this campaign. They set measurable goals in advance. And they didn’t set the only goal as increasing sales because they recognize that there’s not a direct correlation between a single marketing campaign (with multiple facets) to sales. But most important of all, they treated the PDF as a gift.

It was available for a limited time. And it was available, in particular, to journalists and bloggers as a file that they could gift to others. It was libre—free to travel, free to be shared.

And, quite cleverly, there are still reasons for us to talk about Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk because the publisher has created this case study to share as a gift to other publishers and authors who are debating the merits of posting a free PDF. Thank you again for sharing!

Book publishing is an industry in a cribbage game—and it’s not about avoiding getting skunked by your fellow publishers, it’s about avoiding getting skunked by every other industry vying for consumer attention. You are playing as an industry, not as individual players.

BookCampTO is one example of how we can work together and I really hope to bring that conversation to the west coast. Thank you for the Toronto hospitality.

I’ll be posting my BookCampTO notes at http://www.breakthespine.com/. If you’re interested in attending the Vancouver debrief session sign up for email alerts at Break the Spine, email me, DM me on twitter—chose your means.

Email Alerts from Break the Spine

Website: http://www.breakthespine.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/breakthespine or http://www.twitter.com/somisguided


Monday, June 01, 2009

Kill a Critic: A Revenge-Lit Contest

imageBiblioasis and SeenReading have launched the Kill a Critic: A Revenge-Lit contest, to celebrate the Launch of Terry Griggs’s Thought You Were Dead.

The first entries are up at www.revengelit.blogspot.com and the deadline (pardon the pun) is June 12.

How to Entry
Write 250 words or so on the Death of a Critic (Literary or Art), and what they did to get there.
Send entries to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Visit RevengeLit.Blogspot.com for details 

Everybody Hates a Critic. Some people hate them more than others.

Terry Griggs’s new comic-noir biblio-mystery Thought You Were Dead kicks, err, off with a literary critic found under a hedge with a knife in his head, and literary revenge plays an increasingly important role as the novel unfolds. The literary world, and especially the Canadian literary world, can be a small, spiteful – and occasionally murderous – place. Character assassinations abound, books are regularly murdered in the (shrinking) book pages across our fair land, while others are smothered with damningly faint praise. More than a few knives, even if thankfully metaphorical, have been buried hilt deep in authorial backs.

Do you bear the scars of CanLit’s internecine wars? Have you spent a small fortune on postage and only have a drawerful of rejection slips to show for it? Has the world been slow to recognize your evident talent? Then, dear reader, this contest is for you.

To celebrate the launch of Terry Griggs’s Thought You Were Dead, Biblioasis and Seen Reading are teaming up to help you unleash the murder we know is in your heart with our Revenge-Lit contest. Pen a flash fiction of 250 words or so (though, in truth, no one is likely to count them) on the (fictional) literary critic whose body once filled the chalk outline and what he did to get there and send it by June 12th to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The best of the entries will be published as they are received at RevengeLit.blogspot.com. The winning entry will:

1) Receive a one hundred dollar cash prize

2) Be published in a forthcoming issue of CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries

3) A Biblioasis press catalogue of in-print trade titles (approx. 40 books, retail value approx. $1000.00)

Entries to be judged by Dan Wells, Julie Wilson and Terry Griggs.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shebeen: Old Publishers Have to Think

Come out to the Shebeen.

Old Publishers Have New Think Coming

The Shebeen Club
Monday, April 20, 2009
6:00pm - 9:00pm

What: Old Publishers Have New Think Coming call to arms!

When: Monday, April 20th, 6pm-9

Where: The Shebeen, behind the Irish Heather, 210 Carrall Street.

$15 cash at the door includes dinner and a drink.

And yes, it’s okay to show up without RSVPing first.

Gutenberg was an early adopter. Very few people know that.

Call to action from Monique: 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?

Monique Trottier is the owner of Boxcar Marketing, an internet marketing company in Vancouver, BC. As the former internet marketing manager of Raincoast Books, she spearheaded major online marketing campaigns, including online promotion of Harry Potter and the creation of the first Canadian-publisher podcast and blog. Her thoughts on marketing and technology can be followed on Twitter at “somisguided” or on her blogs at http://www.boxcarmarketing.com/blog and http://www.SoMisguided.com.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Provenance: Food & Wine Series

From Farm to Table: A six-part Food and Culture series on sustainable food systems hosted by Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks and Farmfed

I’m helping Anthony Nicalo and Natalie Jensen of Farmfed, a non-profit organization dedicated to building transparent, sustainable food systems, promote their six-part food and culture series entitled Provenance: You are what you eat.

If you want to help, grab the widget in the sidebar or pull some info from below. Or just come to the events! Hope to see you there.

From Farm to Table. Provenance: meaning source or origin. You Are What You Eat

Over the course of the series, experts will join host Anthony Nicalo for classes directed at understanding the origins and sources of the meat, seafood, wine, and produce that appear on our kitchen tables and restaurant tables.

* Part 1-5: Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks in Vancouver at 1740 West 2nd Ave.
* Part 6: UBC Farm at UBC

$65 for individual tickets or $360 for all 6.
Call Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks at 604.688.6755.

Net proceeds from the series will benefit programs supporting transparent, sustainable food systems.

Tuesday, April 21
Join Anthony Nicalo for the official book launch of Provenance: a blueprint for the modern eater. Guests will learn to assess the sources for food they eat and will learn practical tips for buying clean, healthy food.

Monday, April 27
Special guests include Mike McDermid, Program Manager of Ocean Wise, and Chef Robert Clark of [C] Restaurant discussing the importance of understanding seafood’s impacts on our oceans. Guests will enjoy sustainable seafood hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Robert Clark and fish-friendly wines.

Tuesday May 5
Jason Pleym, founder of Two Rivers Specialty Meats will shed light on what is really going on in grocers and butcher shops, while guests taste naturally raised meats.

Wednesday May 20
Mark Bomford, the Program Coordinator for the Centre of Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm will share tips for buying and growing sustainable produce.

Tuesday May 26
Farmstead Wines founder Anthony Nicalo lifts the veil on wine marketing and connects guests to authentic wine and artisan farmers.

Saturday June 6 at UBC Farm
This special fundraiser features international food expert and author of In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan. Pollan will share his manifesto for eating. Guests who participate in the full series will receive a gourmet picnic lunch at UBC Farm.

“Having these experts share their knowledge with us is very empowering”, remarked Anthony Nicalo. “Because the food we eat has clear implications for everything from clean water and climate change to hunger and obesity, the power to change the world is right in front of us, on our plates.”

If you can’t join us in Vancouver, the series will be broadcast live online via Ustream. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/farmfed

Monday, March 16, 2009

SXSW: Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling Session
Monday, March 16th at 05:00 PM

* Bruce Sterling - Wired.com


His state-of-the-cybersphere analyses are always a highlight of SXSW Interactive. Don’t miss what the veteran science fiction writer and industry pundit has to say about the wired world this year.


Let’s talk about our relationship. Yours and mine.

I’m an author. I’m a journalist.
There’s my business card.
With a phone and fax number.

Look. These artifacts are called books. I know you’re not used to seeing them.

Let me explain how they work.

I write a lot of words in a row. A whole lot of words. Not even character count. Then I go back and carefully restructure them and move them until they have a coherent storyline. Then I send them to my agent who sends them to a publisher who sends it to an editor and eventually it goes to a distributor who handled cult activities like author tours. And it goes to retailers who sell it to people and then return unsold copies.

This whole business has hit the skids.

Publishing has never been such a parless states. If you were an author in this system, you go 4-8% in a not really accurate royalty system. But that was ok because you, as an author, were likely to go screwy anyway.

As an author and journalist, I feel much more sorrow for the state of editors.

Editors/Publishers model is not working out. Now you have the cliched perfect storm of troubles.

Sterling on the book
I have them. I thought about spamming the audience with them. Or hiding them and geo-locating them ...

No this belongs to someone who is young. Under 20?

There is not a teen in the room? So much for this being a teenagers. Think. Just break times’ hourglass. Just take them away young people. I don’t expect you to read them. You txt.

How do we face this problem?

Twitter feed: media is dying

Print media spent 20 years making fun of a paperless society.

Could I put it on Kindle? Oh it’s there. Am I happy about that? No. Will anyone be reading a Kindle when one of them is my age? No. It’s like an atari.

Traditionally authors burn all their love letters on their death bed. Now we issue them under creative commons.

WIRED Italia. Look at the size of the ads in this baby.

[ ... monique distracted ... ]

What concerns me is the death of the audience. It doesn’t matter what happens to me. I’m better off than most authors I know, most journalists I know. There was a period of greater prosperity. I wonder why, why do I have a relationship to you. Why do you have a relationship to you?

My twitter group is bigger than you, more widely spread than you. They are probably a better audience than you. They can put up with more than you. They’ll RT me. I know some of you are gathering together in the back conspiring ... drifting ... you’re the people formerly known as the audience. And you’re forfeiting the benefits of the audience. Paying attention to the point of being able to discuss it.

[Bruce opens a drink. I used to have a great parties. It was my house. We were there to enjoy ourselves. Opens chips. You thought you were getting chips, but I was in control of the chips. The servers. They were in my corner.]

MT: Best laugh out loud.

Old social media (parties) were bring who you trusted.

The party audience was replace by social media influencers. Their capacities were built up. It was impossible to open up to this audience because they’d tweet their buddy list. It’s a technologically transformed situation and the loss is a social loss.

There’s a loss.

How do we restore those days? They aren’t coming back. Why do I keep up author appearances? Why do I have to keep up a level of respect? You’re not my friends. I’m not your host.

[cookie eating now]

Even if you’re broke, you will still be densely connected.

Connectivity is a symbol of poverty.

I might become boring enough that no one comes by anymore. You can lose your fame to the point that no one shows up.

I can’t throw a party and sit around and talk about vinyl and books. I feel the loss keenly. Playing lost vinyl for your friends. This has vanished.

I have little parties in those places with which I have similar relationships to this one. Lift Conference is getting bigger every year. Reboot in Denmark, great conference again. Amsterdam is on top of their game.

USA could be like Canada. We’re afraid of French, Germans. We’re liking Canadians: cute, cuddly. They’re afraid of being us.

Let me read this silly stuff to explain what’s happening:

“Melt down money-quake yuppy flu end of the world as we know it the long emergency bush’s legacy the great reset the inflection un-real estate communism 2.0 ... the long doom.”

This is what I think books will look like in the future. Austin is a bookish town. Book culture will mutate on the way down.

Austin bookstore I saw on the way into town. HP Lovecraft: greatest, most creative ... and when he wasn’t getting commercial work he basically started blogging. Here are his miscellaneous writings. A small fraction of his discourse and it’s bigger than his collective works. This non-fiction, community organization was more time than his stories.

Within his community, he was trusted. The American Amateur Press Association was his blog network. A lot of writers came out of this association. Robert Block. The Lovecraft circle who grew up from a B.

He perished.

What does the future look like?

Go to Brave New Books in Austin. Right-wing nutty.

This is a harbinger of something interesting. The tactics are more important here.

[ ... more to come ... 15 minutes of battery left ... ]

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

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SXSW 09 Interactive

I’m really excited to be at SXSW this year. I have wanted to come every year and have always had some excuse. This year, I’m here!

Today is my second day and I’ve attended two sessions so far that are worth blogging about. Here are my notes on the Boxcar Marketing site:

Everything You Know About Web Design Is Wrong
This was a quick comparison of transcendental changes in the film industry and how those same types of changes need to occur in web design.

Curating the Crowd Sourced World
Nice panel discussion from people who are currently letting the crowd do the driving (but, of course, the wheel is only controlled at any one time but one person). Perhaps the panelists are more interesting individually.

Fun Facts

SXSW Bag Pickup

There are 6500 registrants for the interactive portion. These are the participant bags.

The speakers’ name signs are last name only. This is so that the cards can be reused by all speakers with the same last name. Now that’s a cool planet-saving measure.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Chirstina Aguilera’s Perfume: Sometimes It’s All You Need to Wear

Christina Aguilera’s new perfume Inspire was a big hit in Tel-Aviv thanks to a great marketing stunt.

Mizbala of Tel-Aviv placed tens of thousands of quality clothes hangers, with a perfume sample and a branded Christina Aguilera label in public locations all over the country. (Via AdPulp c/o James @ AdHack)

The campaign is called “Sometimes It’s All You Need to Wear.”

The perfume sold out in 1 week.

Perfumer Notes

Inspire is a beautiful white floral, with a lightness of touch, twisted with colourful fruit notes. This is a fragrance that’s classic and enduring; sweetly feminine and sexy, with a vibrant freesia top note and a heart of beautiful Tuberose flower, one of Christina’s favourite ingredients.

Top: Mango, Hydroponic Freesia, Citrus Complex
Heart: Tuberose, Rose, Frangipani
Base: Valencia Orange, Musk, Sandalwood


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AdHack: Show Us Your Balls

It’s down to the final 3 contestants in the “Show Us Your Balls” campaign.

And now we dance! Script by Ren

No Good Deed. Script by Jordan Behan

Beer Balls. Script by Ryan Kurr
Vote for the script that you think should win.

And watch the Balls Music Video. Oh it’s on baby.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I Love Coraline

I have more to say, but start here.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Show Us Your Balls Super Bowl Commercial

Giant Ant Media and AdHack.com teamed up a couple of months ago to film their alternative to the Super Bowl commercial.

I can’t say the Super Bowl commercials were great this year, but I definitely had a good laugh at the AdHack “Show Us Your Balls” ad.

I loved it so much that I agreed to help promote it. Here’s my hefty press release talking about the secrets to making a great ad. and, for your viewing pleasure ...

Now that you know what the crazy avatars are all about, go check out AdHack’s Contest page where you can write the follow-up script for a chance to have your version filmed.

And those are my “balls balls” at the end of the commercial.

Friday, January 16, 2009

How Books Are Made & Marketed

How book are made ... from the digital marketing team at McMillan, forwarded to me from the digital marketing team at Raincoast Books. Hooray for the interwebs.