CC-License Photo by Markus Spiske / www.temporausch.com
A couple of midweek shockers in the Canadian publishing world. The first is that David Kent is leaving HarperCollins Canada and the second is that Simon Schuster’s Canadian publishing program is in question amid key layoffs.
The Big 6 in book publishing are:
1. Hachette Book Group, leading US trade publisher currently embroiled in a dispute with Amazon. Imprints are Grand Central Publishing and Little Brown and Company, among many others.
2. HarperCollins, has a publishing group in Canada, is a subsidiary of News Corporation, and includes imprints like Harper Perennial and William Morrow, among many others.
3. Macmillan, is a conglomerate of several leading publishing imprints like Farrar Straus and Giroux, St Martin’s Press, Tor Books, and WH Freeman, among many others.
4. Penguin Group, with operations in Canada, merged with Random House, and includes imprints like GP Putnam’s Sons, Plume, Prentice Hall Press, Puffin Books and many others.
5. Random House, now including Penguin, is owned by Bertelsmann, has operations in Canada, and includes publishing groups like Crown Publishing, Knopf Doubleday and Random House Children’s Books, plus many others.
6. Simon & Schuster, the publishing operation of CBS Corporation, also has operations in Canada, and includes imprints like Pocket and Scribner, among many others.
So what’s going down in the Canadian market? Is there a Harper Collins + S&S merger to come, like we saw with the Random Penguins? Or are the US operations taking over control of the Canadian publishing groups in order to find economies of scale?
If the Big Six are seeing 1/3 of revenues coming from digital and “big data” and sales analytics are on the rise, then it seems plausible to me that the Canadian operations will wind down in order to maximize revenue (and reporting) for the North American market through the US headquarters. Any one in a betting mood? Toronto friends, what’s the word on the street?
Posted by Monique at 11:19 AM.
I always cite 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as my favourite book and Alistair Macleod as my favourite author. To have lost both authors in such a short span of time is heartbreaking even though it’s been years since either put out a new work. What I loved about both was that neither ever misplaced a word. The sentences were tight, the quality of the storytelling was epic and their magnitude as authors was greater than great.
I never met Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but I did spend 2 months in his country of birth and the culture of that part of South America was heavily infused in his writing. Reading Marquez was a way to venture back to that place and to basically feel like a time traveller.
A Nobel Literature prize winner. A great author. He died on April 17 at the age of 87.
My favourite copy of 100 Years of Solitude is in shabby condition, thanks to an ill-fated lending of said copy to my now husband. I should note that he bought me a lovely collector’s edition as an apology, but I held on to my original version and still prefer it.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Love in the Time of Cholera are two other favourites. And there are countless scenes that will stick with me forever, in particular the clouds of yellow butterflies.
I wish Alistair Macleod had stayed with us until 87 but he was only 77 years young when he passed away on Easter Sunday, April 20.
His first short story collection, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, is a slim volume that packs a hefty punch. Each story is a masterpiece. Before I was properly introduced to Alistair Macleod’s writing in a Canadian literature class in university, I was familiar with the cadence of his voice from listening to some of the stories read on CBC radio. Every time I read Macleod’s writing, I can hear his voice. It’s a wonderful experience.
When he published No Great Mischief in 1999 I had the pleasure of meeting him at BookExpo in Toronto. I had two girlfriends who were working at McClelland & Stewart at the time and one had the task of typing up pages and pages of text from Macleod’s handwritten, yellow foolscap. When he won the $10,000 Trillium Book Award, he chuckled that the kids could get another topping on their pizza now. I have my signed copies of Lost Salt Gift of Blood, No Great Mischief and Remembrance.
Macleod and his economy of words will always be my barometer for good writing. Be brief, be brilliant, be gone. I suppose it’s fitting that the last time I saw Alistair Macleod was at the Vancouver International Writers Festival and he read from his short story “Remembrance.”
Officer of the Order of Canada and multiple award winner, Alistair Macleod will be greatly missed.
Posted by Monique at 01:10 PM.
A report published in this month’s edition of Libri: International Journal of Libraries and Information Services ties Vancouver and Montreal for the top spot, while Chicago, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Toronto rounded out the top five.
Posted by Monique at 08:39 AM.
“Is it bestiality if he turns from a dolphin into a human while they’re having sex?” – October 14, 2013
Kobo COO Michael Tamblyn at FutureBook 2013, “Infinite Shades of Grey: The Promise and Peril of Self-Publishing,” on 9 days of hell.
On October 12th, Kobo had a significant catalogue of self-published titles in the UK. Tens of thousands of authors and hundreds of thousands of titles, a thriving part of our UK business. Living the dream, as they say.
On October 14th, we had zero self-published titles available in the UK from zero authors and our 300-year-old retail partner had suspended their web presence.
For more context please read this first:
Or start with the video and transcript here:
Posted by Monique at 07:49 AM.
Third Generation Bookseller BLACK BOND BOOKS Celebrates 50 Years! (CNW Group/Black Bond Books)
Oh hooray for Black Bond Books! Canada’s largest independent bookselling group—based in BC—is celebrating their Golden Anniversary this October. Black Bond Books was founded in Brandon, Manitoba in 1963, by Madeline Neill, now retired. She moved to BC in 1972, and with the help of her children, Cathy, Vicky and Michael, the company grew to 10 locations over the years. A true, family business, Madeline’s daughter Cathy Jesson is President, granddaughter, and third generation bookseller Caitlin Jesson manages the Vancouver location, and Mel Jesson, business partner, keeps the financials in order. (Source: Press Release)
Posted by Monique at 07:11 AM.
Calling All Historians & Journalists! Do you know about the Michael Fellman Award? This $1000 award was co-established by the SFU History Department and The Tyee to honour a piece of publicly accessible writing that offers a bold, erudite political analysis tied to history.
The inaugural prize honours this historian’s skill at unpacking complex issues and providing context to current day and historical events. Fellman passed away in 2012 and the Michael Fellman Award was created to reflect his spirit of public engagement, bold thought, clear analysis, and writing that rests on well-researched historical understanding.
The submission deadline is fast approaching! Entries are due before November 1.
Deadline: Nov 1
Full details are available here:
More about Michael Fellman, professor emeritus of history at SFU and historian of the 19th Century, the Civil War, and American Violence: Michael Fellman in Memoriam: an essay by Christopher Phelps
Posted by Monique at 08:22 PM.
Very excited for my friends Jesse Finkelstein and Trena White who have just launched their new publishing venture, Page Two.
Page Two is a new form of agency for non-fiction authors needing help navigating the full range of publishing options from traditional publishing routes to self-publishing and digital publishing. Jesse and Trena are publishing veterans with a ton of experience and high-level of detail so there’s no doubt in my mind that their clients will be in good hands.
Author and publisher services:
• Writing coaching and editorial support
• Career strategizing that considers the full range of publishing options, including self-publishing
• Traditional author representation to the book trade
• Sourcing printers, POD, and distribution services
• Sourcing skilled freelancers to work on your project
• Managing or expanding corporate publications programs
• Transitioning print content to digital
• Cross-format content licensing, including contract drafting and review
• Strategic planning and business development
• Editorial and acquisitions strategy
Posted by Monique at 06:43 AM.
The time has come! Publishers, in particular Goose Lane, are now accepting manuscript submissions electronically.
I remember my Raincoast “slush pile” days. Sitting in the back room with inch-thick manuscript submissions and reading (or rather weeding) through boxes of submissions. Now the glut of paper is finally ending with the ease of reading facilitated by tablets. Thank you iPad.
[Press Release excerpt] Beginning this Canada Day, Goose Lane Editions will accept fiction submissions only in electronic form and solely via electronic submission.
In early 2012, Goose Lane equipped its acquisition editors with new tablet computers for reviewing manuscripts. Now, halfway through 2013 and after almost 60 years of accepting manuscripts exclusively in paper, the company will begin the overall transition to full electronic submissions.
“Aside from the ecological benefits of doing away with mountains of print manuscripts,” Goose Lane’s publisher Susanne Alexander says, “this change will allow for a more rapid response to submissions and queries and will result in substantial savings for prospective authors.”
The electronic process for fiction submissions will soon be followed by poetry and non-fiction submissions, which are currently accepted only in paper form, which I suspect is the preference of the editor. The release did say that the publishing house expects these two genres to transition to the electronic submission process.
Full details on the new submission process is available at http://gooselane.com/submissions.php
Posted by Monique at 07:53 AM.
In publishing news yesterday, Amazon bought Goodreads. The big question in the minds of users and publishing industry folks is “what will they do with it?” In particular will they remove the buy buttons for other retail sites? Word on the street is that Goodreads was working on a bookstore function for the site, hence the acquisition by Amazon. Like Facebook and Google, Amazon likes to take any competition off the table. They already own Shelfari and have a stake in LibraryThing, so maybe owing Goodreads was always in the cards.
People like publishing consultant and Digital Book World partner Mike Shatzkin think it’s definitely because of the bookstore competition though. And why is Goodreads competition? Because they have an awesome recommendation engine and rapid user growth. Add a bookstore to that and they stand to make a nice bag of coin.
With 12 million users as of late 2012, Goodreads is the largest book-focused social network so it will be interesting to see how Amazon, the largest bookseller, is going to capitalize on that. The Digital Book World site has a good article on the acquisition — Amazon Acquires Goodreads — and they’ve provided a few logical guesses at what Amazon will do with Goodreads.
- Use the site’s data to augment and improve its own book recommendations.
- Remove buy buttons for other retailers’ books.
- Supplement its own reviews with Goodreads reviews.
- Add Goodreads to its suite of marketing solutions for publishers.
- Nothing. The company is growing quickly (nearly tripled in users since the end of 2011).
I think they’ll definitely use the site’s data, and they will likely remove or make much more prominent the Amazon buy button. At the moment Barnes & Noble is the prominent call to action. I do not think they’ll replace their reviews with Goodreads’ reviews because for SEO reasons they’d want the content to be unique on both sites so they have have a double whammy in search results. Goodreads does have a good marketing program, including author chats and advertising, so perhaps that becomes part of an offer to authors and publishers. Oh the anticipation!
Posted by Monique at 06:47 AM.
A limited number of signed collectors’ editions of Alice Munro’s Dear Life and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi have been printed on straw paper and are being sold for $250-500. The special sale is a campaign to demonstrate the versatility of straw paper developed by Second Harvest Paper in partnership with Canopy. At present, 50% of forests cut in North America currently become paper. This new straw paper contains only straw left over from grain harvesting and recycled paper, with no virgin forest materials used at all, and therefore no damage to our limited forest ecosystems.
Press Release (Vancouver) – Celebrated authors Alice Munro and Yann Martel have collaborated with award-winning environmental group Canopy to print collectors’ editions of their bestselling books Dear Life and Life of Pi. Printed specially on forest-saving paper made from straw rather than trees, the books highlight a viable solution to logging carbon-rich forests for paper. Published by Random House of Canada, a limited number of signed copies of each book will be available from these printings. All proceeds go towards Canopy’s continued forest conservation work and development of alternative paper sources.
“Future generations will only know bears, tigers, orangutans and caribou as fictional creatures unless we protect their habitat in the Boreal, tropical and temperate forests now,” said Yann Martel, after last week’s Oscars win by the film based on his novel. “Using straw paper for my book demonstrates that there are elegant solutions that keep the world’s towering trees standing.”
Canopy arranged the production of these rare special editions with Random House of Canada as part of their campaign to diversify the North American paper fibre basket. Kick-starting commercial-scale development of straw-based papers will significantly reduce the stress on endangered forests.
“Now more than at any other time in our history, we need to bring our intelligence and imagination to sustain our life support systems,” said Alice Munro. “With a pure passion and unwavering conviction Canopy has been working to protect the world’s forests and inspire innovation. This is exactly the kind of practical solution required.”
Both Alice Munro and Yann Martel, and their respective publishers, McClelland & Stewart and Knopf Canada, have worked closely with Canopy since 2000 when the organization first started its work to green the book publishing industry. At the time, no publisher was consistently printing on environmental papers.
“A decade ago Alice Munro and Yann Martel were amongst the first authors to work with Canopy and their publishers to curtail books being printed on paper from ancient and endangered forests,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s founder and executive director. “Today, they are yet again helping to pioneer solutions that will keep more than 800 million trees standing in North American forests every year.”
Every year millions of tonnes of wheat straw and flax straw, left over after the grain harvest in Canada, could be used to make commercial-quality paper. As of February 2013 Canopy’s ongoing market survey quantified an annual North American demand for more than 1 million tonnes of straw paper. The paper used in Alice Munro and Yann Martel’s titles is made from wheat straw, flax straw and recycled paper, and has half the ecological footprint of conventional paper. It is the product of a unique partnership that Canopy forged with paper producer Cascades Fine Paper, technical collaborators at Alberta Innovates, and printers Friesens and Webcom.
Signed special editions of Life of Pi will be available for purchase beginning March 6, 2013. Signed special editions of Dear Life will be available for distribution as of mid-April 2013, in time for Mother’s Day, but can be preordered today. Both books are available exclusively at canopyplanet.org.
Canopy is a not-for-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting forests, species and climate. Canopy believes collaboration is the key and that businesses can be a powerful force for solutions, and work with more than 700 companies to help ensure their supply chains are sustainable. Canopy’s partners include Sprint, The New York Times, Random House, Hearst, Scholastic, and Lonely Planet. For more information, visit http://canopyplanet.org.
Posted by Monique at 11:21 AM.
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
A Season in Hell: My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda
A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring
Here We are Among the Living: A Memoir in Emails
Pinboy: A Memoir
Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age
Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile
Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy
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)
Posted by Monique at 10:22 AM.
Media outlets are reporting that two of the big six publishers have merged.
It’s interesting to see the coverage, in particular the Canadian opinions of the merger. What we have are two of the publishing industries biggest players forming one super publisher, Penguin Random House.
Realistically both were already owned by international media giants Bertelsmann (Random) and Pearson (Penguin). The new super publisher is “super” because it merges the publishing divisions and imprints across North America, Latin America, the UK, Australia & New Zealand, India, South Africa and operations in China and Spain. Wow.
The media reports, likely from the merger press releases, are spinning this as a fight against the dominance of Amazon. The idea being that a larger entity can play ball better with the dominant retail vendor. Even though Random House is quite advanced in terms of their digital publishing and data savvy, and Penguin is advanced in terms of innovative digital publishing and brand recognition, we still have two publishers (now one) against a data and technology machine. I’m not sure what people are expecting can be leveraged here. Nor why they think that their publishing buddy, if they are successful in playing better with Amazon are somehow going to open the door for smaller publishers.
My take is good for Penguin and Random House. I hope they don’t spin their wheels trying to consolidate operations and create efficiencies that likely don’t exist.
My concern would be for authors and agents and the diminishing diversity of established publishers because I do still believe publishers have a lot of valuable industry knowledge not yet earned by innovative publishing startups. We’ll see how merged these operations and imprints become but I suspect there will be reductions.
My advice to all publishers is to look closely at the skills Amazon has developed since the late 90s and catch up as quickly as possible. Look at your direct to consumer marketing, look at your brand experience, look at your website usability, look at your purchase funnels, go mobile, get your head around the data, stop looking at what other publishers are doing and look at the leaders in b2c retailer/ecommerce, assess your products, find your audience, find the budgets, hire the right staff and doggedly seek the winners. (I know you think you’re doing that, but if you step way back and take a look at you vs. them, you’ll see the difference.)
As Joe Wikert says, ‘Instead of just merging I’d rather see one of the big six stand up like this small publisher and say “we’ve walked on eggshells for far too long…it’s time for us to get serious about building that direct channel and not worry about how our existing channel partners will react.”’ (TOC.OReilly.com)
Dennis Johnson of Melville House has a good review of the media reports on the Penguin Random House merger.
Posted by Monique at 09:21 AM.
Book Publisher •
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.
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.
And my favourite: Word Under the Street is happening again in the downstairs area of the library.
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.
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).
Posted by Monique at 09:15 AM.
Attention writers: The Telegraph-Journal, New Brunswick’s provincial daily newspaper ( http://www.telegraphjournal.com ) recently launched a new short fiction prize.
The Salon Fiction Prize, which opened July 7, is for a work of short fiction in English between 1500-3000 words. The winning piece will be published in an issue of the Telegraph-Journal’s art and culture section “Salon”, and the winning author will receive a prize of $1,000.
The trio of judges are from Atlantic Canadian universities: Thomas Hodd (University of Moncton); Alexander MacLeod (Saint Mary’s University); and Sue Goyette (Dalhousie University).
The contest is open to all residents of Canada. All entries must be unpublished material and not under consideration in any other contest of competition. Entries will not be returned, so keep a copy.
- Deadline: Entries must be received by Oct. 1, 2012.
- Entries must include a contact email and telephone number where the author may be contacted.
Posted by Monique at 10:35 AM.
On February 22, the Writers’ Union of Canada presented Canadian author Lawrence Hill with the 2012 Freedom to Read Award.
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.
Posted by Monique at 06:26 PM.