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

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The First Day of School

Powells.com has a fantastic newsletter. They’ve got book reviews, first editions that they flog, interviews, bestseller lists and great bits of personal information, like where their staff went on summer vacation. This month they also solicited 200-word essays and comments on the best/worst day of school, which got me thinking about first days of school.

As a girly girl, the first day of school always meant a new outfit. I wasn’t a fan of dresses, but I did accessorize at an early age. My fashion downfall occurred in second grade when I was still at the age when allowance only bought penny candies not ensembles.

The current fall fashions are forcing fashion flashbacks upon me: the browns, yellows and greens of the 70s. My first day of second grade my mother adorned me in relish green slacks and a mustard yellow turtleneck. I understand. She was a slave to the fashion mags of her time. But it was still wrong. And the rainbow belt? So misguided.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Fall Preview

The Fall book season is upon us! Fall seems to be busy for every industry, but September and October are particularly busy times in publishing. Lots of literary festivals, lots of marketing and pushing of the “hot books this fall.” Publisher spend most of the fall trying to get readers’ attention, hoping their top books will be remembered at Christmas time. Not sure whether that is misguided marketing or not, but it happens.

Based on advance reading copies, Quill’s Fall listings and the Globe and Mail, here are my Fall Picks. The disclaimer is that these are the books I want to read, not necessarily the ones that I think will be the hot books. I noticed a strong native theme in my picks. Not sure why that is.

Amazon Listmania: Monique’s Fall Picks

And what am I reading now? I was asked that today.

Bookmark Now by Kevin Smokler. Little disappointed that Kevinsmokler.com has not recently been updated. I found out after the fact that Kevin was in Vancouver talking to the SFU book immersion group. I would have loved to sit in on that discussion.

Also reading Seth Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars (and hoping that Darren Barefoot will remember to pass on Seth’s link about book publishing).

What do you think about book marketing? Do you read reviews? See book ads in the papers, here about books from friends?

I heard that promoters of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink were handing out copies at Robson Square on Saturday and were having a difficult time getting people to stop and talk to them. I guess the “power of thinking without thinking” was too much for people.

I passed by a mother and daughter this weekend. They walked by Book Warehouse on 4th Ave. and the mother stopped to look at the bargain books out front. “Books!” the little girl said. “I hate books.”

Scott told me once you can gauge how smart someone is by the number of books they’ve read or have in their library. My apartment is wallpapered with books. Smart maybe, but cool?

Kevin Smokler’s introduction to Bookmark Now is a great essay on the fun or coolness of books and the book industry. It’s definitely worth reading.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

ZOMBIEWALK 2005

Shamble, stumble, flail, have a good time? No, we’re not getting legless, I’m talking zombies. Any Zombie obsessions out there?

Please join me Saturday, August 27 from 4 pm onwards.

ZOMBIEWALK 2005 starts at 4 pm from the VAG and 5pm from 15th and Sophia (near Main St).

Here are the details I’ve received:

The walk will start in two-stages as follows:

1. All non-lazy zombies (or “super zombies”) are invited to gather on or around the big steps at the Vancouver Art Gallery no later than 4pm. From the VAG the horde will be skytrain bound. After a stumble through the mall and a short jaunt on Vancouver’s fine public transit system we will de-train at Main St. station and stumble on up to the Bethlehem Lutheran Church - 320 East 15th - two blocks east of Main. Once there, we will take a short pause to collect ourselves, gnaw on brains, and meet up with . . .

2. The lazy zombies. A second group of zombies will gather in front of the above mentioned church (Bethlehem Lutheran, 320 East 15th, at Sophia and E 15th) at or around 5pm. Remember - zombies tend to move slowly and occasionally have problems with limbs falling off, body stiffness and possibly skytrain security officers. If you do not see any of your brethren exactly at 5pm, be patient. Mill about and look scary.

Once all zombie factions have massed at the church it will be time to head onward and uphill to Mountainview Cemetery at Fraser and 31st. For reference, the walk will proceed along Main Street to 31st should any zombie stragglers be left behind and/or spontaneous zombies wish to join the braaiiins procession.

Once at the cemetery, please be on good zombie behaviour - respect your brethren.

We will linger a short while in the cemetery before moving onwards to nearby Queen Elizabeth Park for some games, brains, fun, prizes, brains and a pinata or two.

Yes, you do have to dress like a zombie. Those who do not do so are welcome, but risk having their brains eaten by confused zombies. You have to admit - they’re not all that smart, but they know a good living brain when they smell it.

Potentially useful things to keep in mind:

Causes of zombie-ness:

As everyone knows - or should know - zombies are usually attributable to one or more of the following:

1. voodoo
2. science gone astray - chemical or biological accidents, experiments, viruses and the like
3. the apocalypse

Of course, there are many more possibilties. Be creative. Corpses in all stages of decay are encouraged.

For the low-budget zombie:

1. Oatmeal and liquid latex works wonders.
2. Food colouring and corn syrup makes convincing blood, but sticky. However, also tasty.
3. Value Village - but I’m sure it’s hardly necessary to mention that.

Finally: As mentioned previously - zombies are only really effective when travelling together in large groups. Bring your friends, foes, family and other loved ones.

Nothing says you love someone quite like caking yourself in make-up, limping down the street together and eating them in the park!

Not sure where this started but here’s a blog link that looks like the original. Supernovajuice.com

Wanna come?

 

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Canadians Say Goodbye to Sergeant Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith

Today was the memorial service for “Smokey” Smith. The procession made its way through my neighbourhood and across the bridge to St-Andrew’s-Wesley Church. The roar of the CF-18s is stuck in my mind.

“Smokey” died on Wednesday, August 3, in Vancouver. The friends and dignitaries at the memorial service spoke of him as a card, as a man who liked a laugh and a good scotch, and most of all as a man who will be remembered as a hero.

The passing of “Smokey” Smith marks the passing of living history into oral and written history. As the last living recipient of the Victoria Cross “Smokey” had the remaining first-hand stories of what happened that night in Italy on October 21, 1944. It was his duty in accepting the Victoria Cross to represent bravery and to continue acting as a public figure and spokesperson long after the war. As a Canadian and a citizen of the world, I do not want those stories to die with him.

I did my English thesis research on wartime stories and although I don’t want to live in the past, I spent a lot of time thinking about it then, and again today.

The Victoria Cross is awarded for bravery, valour, self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. The cross is 1.375 inches across and is made from cannons captured from the Russians during the Crimean War.

There have been 1,351 Victoria Crosses awarded, 94 to Canadians.

The last living recipient of the Victoria Cross will have his ashes scattered at sea tomorrow. Sergeant Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith, VC, CM, OBC, CD. 1914-2005.

Button Makers and Skateboards

The last couple of days there has been increased activity in my brain, in particular on the crafty side. Cunning and creative.

Yesterday I was thinking buttons.

Now more on the board:
Take the virtual tour of the Skates Online Skateboard Museum

The new banner for So Misguided is of a rare 1930s scooter skateboard hybrid. Begone butterfly from the template.

I like the skateboard because it is red and I don’t have to change the template colours yet. I like that it is a rare skateboard, everyone knows the Roller Derby. There’s a social misfit or cultural icon element to skateboarding that I find interesting. If you could say “so misguided” about anything skateboarding is definitely it. I don’t skateboard but I’m drawn like a magnet to the logos and board designs.

Now if you’re going to link buttons to skateboards, here’s my segway. Check out PD’s Hot Shop on 4th Ave. in Vancouver. Or go to the website.

open at noon cep’n fer sundays closed or
we might be around but check first.
prices subject to change according to
customer’s attitude.

For sure there is a button quote there. Check out the whole site. “We are anti-technology which means no credit carrds, no interwack or debit shit.”

More on the board:

Thirties - Scooter Skate
The rare 1930’s scooter skate was a skateboard / scooter hybrid which was designed with a quick change single bolt adjustment allowing the user to roll it as a scotter with the handle or as a skate without it. This was a three-wheel design with steel roller skate style wheels and no turning or steering mechanism. The bulbous rocket ship style 6 1/2” x 13” deck was stamped out of metal and finished in a vibrant red. This particular design showed patent pending makr, although it’s unclear whether the final patent was granted. Skating then involved pushing down a hill and hoping that you made it to the bottom ... this must have been a noisy, adrenaline stirring, rough ride.

Roller Derby #10, my second favourite.

Friday, August 12, 2005

“Podcasting” Added to the Oxford English Dictionary

I’m a day behind but not a word short. CBC reported yesterday that podcast, phishing and wiki are among the new additions to the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Read the CBC article

Second edition? The first edition was published in full in 1928. Is there a certain number of words that have to be added before it is considered a new edition vs. a new printing? Curious.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

SK8

Curb your enthusiasm.
So Misguided skates the issue.

The first commercial skateboard was the Roller Derby Skateboard (1959) but before that skateboards looked like scooters. The cool kids removed the pushbar of the scooter and voila the skateboard above was born (see the new banner for So Misguided).

Skateboarding Vancouver at the Vancouver Museum is on until August 30.

More on the board to come ...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Amazon.ca Launches Search Inside the Book in Canada

Big news out of Seattle today. Amazon.ca has finally launched Search Inside the Book. SITB has been available on the .com site since Oct. 2003, but it took much longer to launch the program in Canada.

Search Inside the Book lets customers search for keywords inside a book. For example, if I want a book on Turkey, I can select the Search Inside results tab, then see 2-3 pages of the book.

Helpful for sorting out Turkey vs. poultry. Nice for fiction if you want to read a couple of pages to see the writing style. And, of course, an interesting opportunity for readers and publishers.

GooglePrint is also available but I’m not sure how many Canadian publishers are on board.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Vancouver Symphony in the Park

Bramwell Tovey is the music director for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He joined the VSO in 2000 but before that he was artistic director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He is a bit of a card, which I remember from my Winnipeg symphony-going days. The thing I like about Bramwell is that he hams it up with the audience, especially those of us attending a free concert in the park. He still gives you the colour commentary between pieces, but there is an acknowledgement that we’re all outside, that a dog might have pooped in the front row and that’s why there’s a large gap in the audience.

The “playlist” yesterday was also an acknowledgement of the audience. All the pieces had elements that we’ve heard in other places, like advertisements. It was a bit like the Bugs Bunny repetoire.

Rossini’s William Tell: Overature (apparently the ring tone is available)
Lehar’s Gold & Silver Waltz
Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G minor (played in stores last Christmas season according to Tovey)
Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries
Borodin’s Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances
Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 36: Nimrod (who doesn’t like something serious called Nimrod)
Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Op. 49 (with no less than 16 cannon shots)

The top of the night though was Saint-Saens’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, fronted by violinist Christel Lee. Now Christel is no ordinary violinist. She is 14 years old, originally from Vancouver, and studying with world-acclaimed violinist Kyung Wha Chung.

I am in awe of anyone who can play an instrument, in particular these child prodigies. Young Christel came on stage in a flame red gown to accompany the white-tux orchestra. Ms. Lee blew my mind away, and we gave her a standing O so I’m not overstating how awesome she was.

Then I rode my bike home. A very civilized evening indeed.

Friday, August 05, 2005

You’re It—Let’s Play Literary Tag

Two weeks ago, James Sherrett tagged me in a game of literary tag. Although I hate to be left out, I’m also not a joiner. Like a fish on the line, I’ve resisted long enough. I am IT.

1. How many books do I own?
I suspect that I own more than 1,000 books. I have a large number of them stored in my mother’s apartment. She keeps the less loved books in boxes but the first editions and antiquarian books on display (as if they are hers).

2. Last Book I Bought:
June: Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK in BookCity in Toronto in The Beaches.

3. Last Book I Read:
This weekend: The Great Stink by Clare Clarke.

4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
3. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alastair MacLeod
4. You Went Away by Timothy Findley
5. The Canadian Oxford English Dictionary

5. Tag Five More:
Patricia at BookLust
Laila Lalami at Moorish Girl
Kevin Smokler
Dynamo duo Susie and Travis at Hop Studios et al.
Stowe Boyd and Stowe Boyd of Corante. I proudly display my Get Real sticker.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The State of Publishing: Traditional Book Publishing vs. Online Publishing

I was asked today why I thought online publishing won’t takeover traditional publishing. My answer was that humans have been reading off paper for hundreds of years, and I don’t believe that books are fungible.

Music formats—from vinyl to 8-track to cassette to CD to MP3—are much more fungible. The delivery mechanism has a history of fairly rapid change. One format has acceptably replaced another. It is foreseeable that this is an infinite process. For literature—text on stone, animal skin and papyrus to parchment to codexes and bound pages to ebooks—the cycles of change have been much longer and the adoption of new technology has been slower.

Parchment, for example, was introduced as a replacement to papyrus sometime after the 3rd century. Documented use of papyrus, however, continued in classical literature until the 7th century, and even until the late 11th century. Not exactly a quick uptake of technology.

I think until we run out of trees and the ability to use 100% post-consumer recycled products, bound pages—or books—will still be used. Etexts, audio books, and whatever digital format we create for the future will of course be acceptable and used by many people, but the historical data on the adoption of ebooks does not suggest any wide scale change in the habits of book readers.

Now newspapers are a different story. The nature, however, of a newspaper—a collection of short articles—translates well online, as do certain types of books, such as reference manuals, recipe books and perhaps even poetry and short fiction. Like the shift from papyrus to paper, change is inevitable, but I’d argue that the phase out period will likely extend well beyond my lifetime.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Might Mouse

Have a look at what the geeks are up to:

“Mighty Mouse” has been one of the top 10 searches for the last couple of days according to Technorati.

Apple.com/mightymouse

I want my mouse to roar!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Take Me Out to the Blog Game

America is calling.

If I was rich on time and in the pocketbook, here are the upcoming blog conferences I’d like to attend:

Blog Business Summit in San Francisco,  August 17-19. $895. I attended this conference last year and thought it was great. I met Darren Barefoot, whose blog I’d been reading for months. Darren is also a speaker at this year’s conference.

I met Travis and Susie, who I share interesting publishing ideas with, and all the blog gods like Robert Scoble.

Janet Johnson from Marqui is also a speaker—Janet who I recently met at the SFU Future of Publishing session.

There is a very fine list of speakers again this year. But August ... things are gearing up in the publishing world and I’ve just received my security/tracking ankle cuff, the latest chained-to-your-desk innovation. Sadly for me, I will not be able to attend.

Instead my hopes are set high for Number 2, Blogon 2005 in New York City Oct 17-18. $1095. I’m going to start lobbying the powers that be now ... New York here I want to come. I recall at BookExpo America there were all sorts of bloggers who came out of the wood work. Cool people. I want to be there. The campaign starts today.

Any others I should know about?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

SFU Future of Publishing Conference

The world of paper and the web converged for me yesterday. I attended the SFU summer workshop on “The Future of Publishing.” It was an interesting panel discussion moderated by Robert Ouimet, the prinipal in At Large Media, and the founder and president of At Large Media Ltd. Emma Payne.

Janet Johnson of Marqui spoke about how Marqui worked with Marc Canter to find 20 A-list bloggers to write about Marqui and the controversay about that. Eric Karjaluoto from smashLAB talked about ways to build dialogue. He also showed off some rainbow creative. The vomit was my favourite. Arieanna Foley talked about being a professional blogger and consultant. She gave a quick demo of Qumana and talked about writing for Corante and on her blog Blogaholics.ca. Kris Krug, co-author of BitTorrent for Dummies with Susie Gardner, talked about Bryght. My favourite line was “we build the internets.” Kris I’d met before at a couple of blogger meetups and I liked his pot stirring techniques in the session. The panel did fall into a bit of a love fest for a while and Kris diligently persisted in pulling them out of group hugs. And Ben Garfinkel from Industrial Brand Creative was there. My favourite line of Ben’s was, “we’re not wired right.” He has a cool flash intro of a hamster in a wheel, but I can’t seem to find it. Ben?

What did they talk about? Blogs mostly. Citizen journalism and the impact of blogs and cellphones on reports of the London bombings, Live8, etc. The Cluetrain Manifesto was invoked and we talked about talk is cheap, silence is fatal, if you’re not part of the conversation it will continue without you.

I learned that Canada.com is relaunching its portal and Brian from CanWest was in the audience asking for feedback on what bloggers would like to see. Other than that it was mostly a lot of talk, we geeked it up. There were questions from the audience.

On the way back to the office, I was walking with my colleague and explaining RSS. Boris from Bryght walked past. It was that kind of day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Incongruous Proverbs

I read somewhere that people make sense of their world through narrative. I find this to be true in my own world. Often during conversations or meditation, I’m struck by the relevance of the proverbs and miscellany that inform my understanding of the world; the running narrative in my head. Here, however, are some of the incongruous proverbs I stumbled over recently.

Many hands make light work ... Too many cooks spoil the broth

No fool like an old fool ... With age comes wisdom

Great minds think alike ... Idiots seldom differ