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

Monday, April 28, 2008

TrendHunter: Futur eof Books Paper Laptop

Via TrendHunter.com: Secret Book Computers - The Future of Books Laptop

Kyle Bean is a very clever designer who has created a paper laptop to demonstrate how technology has changed the way we source information relate to books.

We are becoming a society that is more virtual. We download music rather than purchase CDs, we research on the net, rather than going to the library and reading books. According to Kyle, “Books also have personality - they have textures and smells which the internet can’t offer”. Kyle wanted to illustrate this issue by using a book turned into a laptop. The object is made from a book purchased at a discount bookstore for only £1.50, as well as a few electrical components to illuminate the screen.

Read the full TrendHunter article.

 

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Books Online and Online Book Reviews

Two sites of interest today:

Flat World Knowledge is a resource site for finding free, open, online college textbooks. There is a little promo video that explains what the site is about.

Juicespot.ca is a place for book readers to go when they are looking for the next good read. You can Dig or Dis a book, create your own page, see what others are reading, review books, answer polls and win stuff.

Manitoba Literary Awards

So Misguided has been awfully light on the book reviews this year. That’s because I have been quietly slaving away as a juror of the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, part of the Manitoba Literary Awards. See the Manitoba Literary Awards announcement of winners.

The purpose of the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award is to honour books that evoke the special character of Winnipeg and contribute to the appreciation and understanding of the City.

The Award is administered by the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers on behalf of the Winnipeg Arts Council, and carries a cash prize of $5,000 for the author of the winning book.

Congratulations to the 5 finalists, whose books I very much enjoyed. And to winner of the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, Roland Penner. 

Winner: A Glowing Dream: A Memoir by Roland Penner, published by J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing.

Other finalists for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award:
* Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg by Esyllt W. Jones, published by University of Toronto Press
* Holding My Breath by Sidura Ludwig, published by Key Porter Books
* The North End: Photographs by John Paskievich, introduction by Stephen Osborne, published by University of Manitoba Press
* The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg by Scott Taylor, published by Studio Publications.

A Glowing Dream: A Memoir by Roland Penner is a fascinating personal history of the Penner family in Winnipeg as well as a social and political history of Winnipeg, one which is not widely known. Roland’s father Jacob was a social and political activist who arrived in Winnipeg in 1904 from Southern Russia. Jacob Penner was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Canada in 1921 and later a Winnipeg City Councillor for 25 years. Roland become a litigation lawyer and academic. He grew up Red but left the Party and later became the Attorney General. The Penner family was an active part of political life in Manitoba for many, many years.

You can see more reviews of Winnipeg and Manitoba books here.

 

2008 Manitoba Book Awards Winners

I found it hard to find this press release so I’m reposting it here.

2008 Manitoba Book Award Winners Announcement
April 27th, 2008
Wolves prowl at Book Awards!

WINNIPEG—The Winnipeg Art Gallery was the scene of a momentous occasion last evening. For the twentieth consecutive year the Manitoba Book Awards honoured its best and brightest in the writing and publishing community. While there were no runaway winners, poet and academic, Alison Calder took home two awards for her collection of poems, Wolf Tree. With long-time author and editor Wayne Tefs winning Book of the Year for his fictionalized true-life survival tale, Be Wolf, and former Attorney General of Manitoba, Roland Penner, winning the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award for his memoir, A Glowing Dream, Manitoba has a healthy and diverse writing and publishing community that will know doubt thrive for twenty more years and beyond.


And the winners are…

McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award ($5,000)
Winner: Be Wolf by Wayne Tefs, published by Turnstone Press.

Other finalists for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award:
So this is the world & here I am in it by Di Brandt, published by NeWest Press • The Penance Drummer and Other Stories by Lois Braun, published by Turnstone Press • The North End: Photographs by John Paskievich, introduction by Stephen Osborne, published by University of Manitoba Press.

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award—Older Category ($2,500)
Winner: Sandbag Shuffle by Kevin Marc Fournier, published by Thistledown Press.

Other finalists for the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award—Older Category:
Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks, published by Groundwood Books • Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Goodlooking) Hero by Maureen Fergus, published by Kids Can Press • The Whirlwind by Carol Matas, published by Orca Book Publishers • Dear Canada: Not a Nickel to Spare by Perry Nodelman, published by Scholastic Canada.

John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer ($2,500)
Winner: Carolyn Gray, author of The Elmwood Visitations.

Other finalists for the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer:
Alison Calder, Poet • Brenda Hasiuk, Novelist.

Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher ($1,000)
Winner: The North End: Photographs by John Paskievich (University of Manitoba Press), introduction by Stephen Osborne.

Other finalists for the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher:
Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920) by Susan Close, published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing • The Land Where the Sky Begins: North America’s Endangered Tall Grass Prairie and Aspen Parkland photographs by Dennis Fast, text by Barbara Huck, published by Heartland Associates • Sunny Dreams by Alison Preston, published by Signature Editions.

Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry / Le Prix Lansdowne de poésie ($1,000)
Winner: Wolf Tree by Alison Calder, published by Coteau Books.

Other finalists for the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry / Le Prix Lansdowne de poésie:
heures d’ouverture by Charles Leblanc, published by Les Éditions du Blé • Exaucée by Christian Violy, published by Les Éditions des Plaines.

Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction ($3,500)
Winner: The Penance Drummer and Other Stories by Lois Braun, published by Turnstone Press.

Other finalists for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction:
A Possible Life by Simone Chaput, published by Turnstone Press • Twenty Miles by Cara Hedley, published by Coach House Books • A Feast of Longing by Sarah Klassen, published by Coteau Books • Be Wolf by Wayne Tefs, published by Turnstone Press.

Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-fiction ($3,500)
Winner: Canada’s Wheat King: The Life and Times of Seager Wheeler by Jim Shilliday, published by the Canadian Plains Research Centre / University of Regina.

Other finalists for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-fiction:
Building Communities: The Changing Face of Manitoba Mennonites by John J. Friesen, published by Canadian Mennonite University Press • Take Comfort: the Career of Charles Comfort by Mary Jo Hughes et al., published by The Winnipeg Art Gallery • Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg by Esyllt W. Jones, published by University of Toronto Press • Paddling South: Winnipeg to New Orleans by Canoe by Rick Ranson, published by NeWest Press • Imagined Homes: Soviet German Immigrants in Two Cities by Hans Werner, published by the University of Manitoba Press.

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award ($5,000)
Winner: A Glowing Dream: A Memoir by Roland Penner, published by J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing.

Other finalists for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award:
Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg by Esyllt W. Jones, published by University of Toronto Press • Holding My Breath by Sidura Ludwig, published by Key Porter Books • The North End: Photographs by John Paskievich, introduction by Stephen Osborne, published by University of Manitoba Press • The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg by Scott Taylor, published by Studio Publications.

The Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book by a Manitoba Author ($1,500)
Winner: Wolf Tree by Alison Calder, published by Coteau Books.

Other finalists for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book by a Manitoba Author:
Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920) by Susan Close, published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing • Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg by Esyllt W. Jones, published by University of Toronto Press.

Manuela Dias Book Design of the Year Award
Winner: Take Comfort: the Career of Charles Comfort, designed by Frank Reimer Design, photographs by Ernest Mayer, published by The Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Other finalists for the Manuela Dias Book Design of the Year Award:
Architecture University of Manitoba: Catalogue ‘07, designed by Evan Marnoch and Zach Pauls, published by the Department of Architecture, University of Manitoba • Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920), designed by Zab Design, published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing • Gertrude Unmanageable, designed by Zab Design, published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing • Marconi in the Sculpture of John McEwen, designed by Lisa Friesen, photographs by Ernest Mayer, published by The Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Best Illustrated Book of the Year Award
Winner: Take Comfort: the Career of Charles Comfort, designed by Frank Reimer Design, photographs by Ernest Mayer, published by The Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Other finalists for the Best Illustrated Book of the Year Award:
heures d’ouverture, designed by Bernard Léveillé, illustrated by Brigitte Dion, published by Les Éditions du Blé • The North End: Photo graphs by John Paskievich, designed by Steven Rosenberg (Doowah Design), photographs by John Paskievich, published by University of Manitoba Press.

The Manitoba Book Awards is co-produced by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers. Nominees and winners are selected by juries comprised of members of Canada’s literary community. The administrators gratefully acknowledge the support of The Manitoba Foundation for the Arts, The Manitoba Arts Council, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council, The Winnipeg Foundation and Friesens.

- 30 -

For more information, please contact:
Jamis Paulson, Programming and Outreach Director
Manitoba Writers’ Guild, 206-100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg, MB. R3B 1H3
(204) 947-5273; toll free (888) 637-5802

Winnipeg Books

The Manitoba Literary Awards yesterday got me thinking about Winnipeg books that I’ve enjoyed and have yet to post about. Here’s a short round-up of my Winnipeg favourites that deserve mention.

Influenze 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg by Esyllt W. Jones (nominated for the Carol Shields Award)
Although an academic account of how the 1918 influenza epidemic affected Winnipeg, Jones still manages to render an engaging look at the personal ways the disease affected the city. This is a thorough social history and study of the impact of influenza on various levels of society. And it freaks me out that a short-term but serious health crisis can devastate a city. These things do not change. SARS was a good example of this.

Holding My Breath by Sidura Ludwig (nominated for the Carol Shields Award) is a skillful exploration of one Jewish family in the North End of Winnipeg during the aftermath of the Second World War. Despite the potential for world events to dominate the narrative, Ludwig deftly weaves historical markers and references to Winnipeg into the story, allowing the reader to focus on the characters, their ambitions, triumphs and tragedies. Holding My Breath is a polished and satisfying novel.


The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg (nominated for the Carol Shields Award) is a treat for any Jets fan. Published by Studio Publications, this retrospective offers a comprehensive yet entertaining look at the game, from as early as 1890, when the first recognized game was played at the Winnipeg Street Railway Rink, through the days of Bobby Hull, the Swedish imports, Dale Hawerchuk and White Outs to the great farewell. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly: the famous players, the behind-the-scenes politics, the trades and the fans. Go Jets Go!

The North End: Photographs by John Paskievich (nominated for the Carol Shields Award)
The introduction to this book is by Stephen Osborne, a man whose photographic eye I will happily bend to. This is gorgeous photo book clearly evokes a time and place, that of Winnipeg’s North End. The ethnicity of the place, the class structure, the culture, the complex state of joy and anguish in this part of the city are all cleverly portrayed in the photos. A visual masterpiece.

Sandbag Shuffle by Kevin Marc Fournier
The Winnipeg Flood is one of those moments in Winnipeg history that continues to capture the imagination. This is the story of Owen and Andrew who escape from their group home in North Dakota and make their way north during the chaos of evacuations. Cheerful and irresponsible, these boys use the flood to their advantage, along with any caring soul they meet along the way. Although the narrative arch of this novel is problematic, it’s still an interesting perspective of lives during the 1997 flood.

Stay Black & Die by Addena Sumter-Freitag
I’m not sure why every book I happened to reading on Winnipeg tended to focus on the North End, but such is the randomness of life. This North End Winnipeg story is a play about a girl growing up Black during the 1950s. I thought this was a great story. Really engaging and definitely a side of Winnipeg that is often untold. I also don’t read a lot of plays so when I do it’s because they are good.

Prairie Writers: Volume 3 edited by MD Meyer
I like short stories a lot. These self-contained snippets of a character’s life represent the diversity of Prairie life. Some are good. Some are okay. But together they pull me back to the Prairies like a warm summer wind.

The Hermetic Code by the Winnipeg Free Press
No list of Winnipeg books is complete without The Hermetic Code. I think this is the book that most captured Winnipeggers this year. The Manitoba Legislature Building is an iconic building and made all the more interesting because of the secrets this book unlocks. Here’s my original review of The Hermetic Code.

The Musical Strike! by Danny Schur and Rick Chafe
Like the 1918 Influenza epidemic and the North End of Winnipeg, the 1918 Strike is iconic. I haven’t read a musical in a long, long time. Perhaps not since high school when I was auditioning for Annie. But unions and democratic dreams are part of my family history so this book caught my eye. There is a CD that you play while you read. I think this is the first interactive book that’s made sense to me.

MTC 50: Manitoba Theatre Centre 50 Years
Studio Publications is a company that caught my eye last Christmas. They published the Deluca Cookbook. Deluca’s is an Italian institution in Winnipeg. A wonderful, tasty place. The book was beautiful and left me salivating. So when I saw the gorgeous white cover of The Winnipeg Jets book and then the striking black cover of the MTC book, I couldn’t resist having a closer look. This is a beautifully produced snapshot of the history of the theatre scene in Winnipeg over the past 50 years.

Sunny Dreams by Alison Preston
I liked this book a lot. It’s a spring day in 1925 when Sunny Palmer is kidnapped from her baby carriage in broad daylight, in the middle of a busy restaurant. The kidnapping devastates the Palmer family. Violet Palmer, Sunny’s older sister, is the protagonist of this novel and we follow her to adulthood and through the summer of 1936 when two drifters arrive with clues to Sunny’s disappearance.

Quite the list. I’ll stop there for now. McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg is one of the best places to find books by Prairie writers. They have a great local section, I love the store, and if you want to read any of these books, they will be the best place to find them. Online sales too, yah!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Penguin UK and Harper Collins Canada

I have been remiss in my duties.

SoMisguided is my external brain. I like to post things here about clever online marketing campaigns and the book business but the first part of the year has totally had it’s way with me.

If you have a clever online campaign or if you’ve seen one your really liked, please let me know what I’ve missed. In turn, I promise to pay attention.

Here are 2 big ones I failed to write about in a timely fashion.

Penguin UK, We Tell Stories, http://www.wetellstories.co.uk
Penguin has a fantastic story generator on their website. Fairy tales and other works are revealed based on user input. I love it, really fun idea.


Harper Collins Canada March Mystery Madness
6 weeks, 64 books, 4 conferences, tonnes of “games,” and 1 winner. Deanna from Harper says, “essentially, it’s the NCAA basketball tournament only with mystery books.” A perfect description. I’ve totally missed on this one, but I understand there are 2 books left and you can still vote for your favourites in the poll here: http://www.harpercollins.ca/marchmysterymadness/poll.html

One person wins 64 books.

Know about a clever online marketing campaign involving books? Let me know.

Book Review: Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

book review: Lavinia by Ursula K Le GuinLavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin is the story of the King’s daughter who Aeneas fights to claim in Vergil’s The Aeneid. I know this sounds heavy, but it’s not. Le Guin does a fantastic job of bringing a tertiary character to life.

Lavinia is about the war that takes place for Lavinia’s hand in marriage (which is really about the amount of land and goats the boy gets). Lavinia is a head-strong girl who grows up during the peaceful reign of her father and has to endure the trials and tribulations of suitors, her crazy mother who wants to marry her off to a cousin (ok in those days), and the war that takes place when a foreigner (Aeneas) arrives on the scene just after an oracle declares that Lavinia must be married to a foreigner. Despite seeing the guy once from a hilltop, Lavinia is super keen to follow orders. I think she’s looking for an escape from the cousin.

Trojan horses, Vergil’s The Aeneid, ancient Italy, prophecies and quick witted maidens: Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin offers a lot to like.

I give it a 4 out of 5. High entertainment value. The beginning was a little difficult to get into. I was having troubles figuring out who was narrating, Lavinian, Vergil? I’m sure the blame rests with me and not with Le Guin.

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin, published by Harcourt Books.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

BC Book Prizes Soiree Tonight

BC Book Prize Soirée is tonight from 7:00-9:00 pm and it’s FREE.


Location
Metropolitan Hotel, 645 Howe Street, Vancouver (downstairs, Cristal Room)

Full details on the BC Book Prizes website.
* Music by Ron Johnston
* Food by Diva at the Me
* Silent auction
* Shortlisted authors

Monday, April 14, 2008

Amazon Usability Improvements

Grokdotcom  has a great article on changes that Amazon made to its product pages to increase visibility of key information related to the buying decision.

There are before and after shots and a good explanation of why bigger is better.

And if you are thinking of ecommerce, Grokdotcom also has a good post on the Amazon shopping cart.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chronicle Book Reviews: Picture Books for Art Lovers

One of the great things about reviewing books is getting a chance to look at books that I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. For example, picture books. I have a small collection of picture books that I’ve bought because of the incredible artwork but these are not books I actively seek—unless I’m buying for my friends’ kids. (Ok, I secretly look at lots of picture books because I like illustration. I even hang out at “Make Things Night” with friends who are illustrators I just a hanger on.)

Raincoast Books recently sent me a couple of new Spring books from Chronicle Books that fall under the “beautiful artwork” category. They also have lovely stories.

Grandma Calls Me Beautiful: picture book from Chronicle BooksGrandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Team Barbara is well known to me because they previously published a very popular series called Mama, Do You Love Me and Papa, Do You Love Me. These were simple story books about a parents unconditional love. Barbara Lavallee’s watercolour illustrations are spectacular. In this book the setting appears to be Hawaii. I love the way she depicts Hawaiians and Alaskans in her paintings.

Wave by Suzy Lee
No text in this book. It’s a great graphic story book about a little girl playing in the waves. This is a fun book. Simple, beautiful. Black, white, blue and fun all over. I wanted to play in the waves after looking at this book. If I’m not mistaken this is the same Suzy Lee who published a very cheeky book called The Black Bird.

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosental and Jen Corace
Amy and Jen are the creators of Little Pea, one of my favourite picture books of all time. Little Pea is about a little pea whose parents force him to eat all his candy. It’s horrible: candy for breakfast, sweets at lunch, treats at dinner. Little Pea just wants his veggies. Little Hoot has a similar problem. He’s a little owl and his parents won’t let him go to bed early. Owls stay up late! And that’s that.

Only in Dreams: a Paul Frank Book by Parker Jacobs
Julius the Monkey is brought to life in the Paul Frank Books. I love this monkey. Who doesn’t love monkeys? The colours are bold! In this story Julius is off to dreamland. My favourite page is Julius paddling down a strawberry-milk river, near a frosted-cupcake village. I like this dream a lot.

Chronicle Books isn’t the only publisher with great picture books that take an irreverent approach to kids books. Harcourt Books has a fab book this season too.

Help Me, Mr. Mutt: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
“Are you always in the doghouse? Don’t yelp, get help! Write to Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor ... Speedy replies guaranteed, complete with diagrams and tips. Help Me, Mr. Mutt is a hilarious collection of letters from dogs seeking advice. Totally brilliant.

Enter the Harcourt Books Contest for a chance to win a copy of Help Me, Mr. Mutt.

Janet and Susan has have an interview about writing the book. Get the inside scoop. Mr. Mutt is super cute. Find out if he or any of the other pups are based on Janet or Susan’s pets.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Figure Skating Blog Rocks

I haven’t written about tap dancing for a while so let me tell you about figure skating.

My friend Julie, who I visited in Malta last year, is back in town and actively promoting her figure skating blog, called Boot and Blade.

It’s an interesting look into the figure skating world from the perspective of someone who spent an awful lot of time on the rink skating and coaching. I have a passing interest in figure skating but Julie definitely knows how to hook me. I think I even watched part of the World’s with her last year just so I could get the inside scoop on who should or shouldn’t win and what moves were tough vs. crowd pleasers.

Check out 8 of the Worst Figure-Skating Falls.

Here’s the first.

Boot and Blade: Figure-Skating Blog by Julie Szabo

Monday, April 07, 2008

Canadian Housing and Renewal Association

CHRA Annual Congress
Did you meet me at CHRA Annual Congress: Breaking New Ground, April 2-5?

I was recently asked to share my social media expertise as a speaker at the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association’s Breaking New Ground Conference in Vancouver. The conference focus was Canada’s social housing sector, with the purpose of questioning traditional approaches to housing issues and offering fresh perspectives. In my case we were looking at traditional media approaches and fresh perspectives on media, in particular how CHRA could use online media to get support for affordable housing issues.

Canadian Housing and Renewal Association was established in 1968 and is a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and strengthening the social housing sector.

My workshop was “Everything you wanted to know about blogging, Facebook, and independent daily online magazines but were afraid to ask…”

You can see the full write up on Boxcar Marketing.

And if you are interested in community planning or housing issues, check out Rachael Ashe’s recap of some of the examples we found of communities using online tools to do community planning: Community Planning Examples.

Attention Vancouver Publishing Folks

One of the publishing circles that I’m involved with is organizing a meet-up for young(ish) publishing folk.

You’re experienced, gifted and… an assistant. Or an intern—for the third year in a row. You’ve got big ideas and know that someday there’ll be a place for you at the top. Maybe you’re even thinking of starting your own publishing enterprise.

Are you ready? Is the industry ready?

The issue of succession is on the horizon. You’re the future of the Canadian publishing scene, but are you getting the training, opportunities and recognition you need? How can we make sure our industry thrives in the face of new technology, shrinking grants and a diversifying workforce? How can we become the next industry leaders?

Join us for a brainstorming session. We’ll be presenting ideas to the ABPBC and others and we want your input!

Thursday, April 10, 7:30pm at the Legion - 3917 Main St (@ 23rd)

 

 

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Vote for Pixton

Back in January, I told you about a cool comic creator tool called Pixton

Here’s my first cartoon:
“Sam Goes on Holiday”

image

Well, the fab creators, Clive and Daina, were awarded “Site of the Day” by Adobe back in February. Interest in the site has continued to grow and now [big news drum roll] Pixton is a finalist in the “Flash in the Can” awards!

FITC (Flash in the Can) is sort of like the Oscars for websites. Prestige. Exposure. Red carpet glam. Actually, I’m not sure about the red carpet, but Clive was talking about flying out to the awards and being required to have an speech.

Pixton is also eligible for the “People’s Choice Award”. Please consider voting for Pixton at http://awards.fitc.ca/pc/

1. See Pixton in the “self-promotional” category.
2. Choose Pixton, enter your name and email address, and click “Submit Vote”. The system counts one vote per address.

Please pass this one.

http://www.pixton.com/comic/bhb99g2q
http://awards.fitc.ca/pc/

Good luck Clive + Daina!