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!
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.
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)
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)
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.
The Word On The Street takes place in Vancouver, Toronto, Kitchener, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, and Halifax.
One more time ...
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.
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.
Canadian book sales and circulation numbers are in and the National Book Count findings provide an interesting look at Canadians’ interest in reading.
The big picture: More than 3.4 million books are bought and loaned in a typical January week in Canada. 10% of English book sales are now in e-books.
Or as the National Post puts it, “By the time you read this sentence, 25 books will have been sold or circulated in Canada.”
How do we know that? Each year the National Book Count, sponsored by the National Reading Campaign (NRC), takes a snapshot of book sales and public library circulations for a typical week in Canada (not during holiday time, not summer reading, just a plain, old, regular week in January).
A total of 3,405,687 books were counted as being sold or circulated for the week of January 23-29, 2012. That’s 5 books every second in a nation of 34,278,400.
Book sales were collected by 3 book sale aggregators: BookNet Canada, BookManager, and la Société de gestion de la Banque de titres de langue française (BTLF).
Book circulation was tracked by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC).
This covers 28 public library systems (circulation to over 13.7 million Canadians), 80% of the English language book retail market and 45% of the French language book retail market across Canada.
No individual consumer information was collected.
This is also the first time e-book sales have been counted in Canada.
E-book sales comprised 10% of all books sold in English Canada. To put that into perspective:
The “Global Assessment of E-Book Markets” presentation by Giovanni Bonfanti, A.T. Kearny / Marco Ferrario, BookRepublic, in January at Digital Book World ranked the top 3 e-book reading countries: United States at 20% penetration, South Korea at 14.5% and the United Kingdom at 7%.
Since e-book lending has also been in the news lately, it’s good to finally have some numbers. The National Book Count reveals that public libraries reported that 3% of their circulation comprised digital formats.
Where are the numbers from?
Online print book sales were captured from major online retailers including Amazon.ca and Indigo.ca.
Digital downloads from public libraries were provided by the CULC, and
English language e-book sales were provided by the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canadian Publishers’ Council, and e-book sales from Kobo, Kindle, Sony Reader and Apple devices were included.
The second annual National Book Count shows that Canada is a nation of readers. Although the count is only over the course of 1 week, the combined tabulation across the spectrum of book retail and public libraries provides insights we don’t otherwise have into this industry.
Major findings this year include:
1,153,081 print books were sold by retailers including Indigo Books & Music, Amazon.ca and other national chains, as well as over 260 independent bookstores across the country. English language print book sales for the week increased 4% over 2011.
111,053 English language e-book sales were counted. As this is the first year counting e-book sales, no direct comparison can be made, but publishers report a “significant” increase from 2011.
2,141,553 print books were borrowed from 28 participating public library systems.** 63,196 e-books were downloaded. Canadian libraries saw an 8% increase in print circulation and a 50% increase in digital circulation for an overall increase of 9% total circulation for libraries that participated in 2011 and 2012.
French language print book sales increased 35% over 2011. This number primarily reflects increased count coverage, not necessarily a surge in book purchases. No French language e-book book sales were captured this year.
About the National Reading Campaign
The National Reading Campaign had its beginnings in 2008, when a coalition of readers, parents, writers, editors, librarians, bookstore owners, teachers, publishers and distributors came together to assess and consider the changing reading habits of Canadians. Their third and final summit takes place in Vancouver May 2-4, 2012.
Wow! Vancouver is holding a major Canadian poetry conference in October as part of the Vancouver 125 celebrations.
The Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference is a four-day poetry conference, October 19-22, 2011. The focus is new generation of poets, which are defined as poets who published their first book after 1990. The conference is presented in partnership with the Office of the Poet Laureate of the City of Vancouver, The City of Vancouver, Simon Fraser University’s Writing and Publishing Program, The Vancouver International Writers Festival, The Vancouver Public Library and the Listel Hotel.
This is an amazing opportunity to enjoy poetry from poets across North America.
Participants include Griffin Prize winner Christian Bök (Eunoia), Griffin and Governer Governor-General’s Award finalist Ken Babstock (Airstream Land Yacht), Griffin shortlisted poet Suzanne Buffam (The Irrationalist), G-G nominee Evelyn Lau (Oedipal Dreams), and Michael Turner (Hard Core Logo).
We have some non-poet here, but the keynote reading will feature Governor-General’s Award and Griffin Prize winner Don McKay (Strike/Slip); prolific and esteemed U.S. writer Fanny Howe (On the Ground); and fellow American Martin Espada, a Pulitzer Prize finalist (for The Republic of Poetry).
According to a recent Vancouver Sun article, there was a landmark 1963 poetry conference, which brought some U.S. superstars to town. Hm, clearly time for another major poetry event.
The conference will be at SFU Woodward’s in October. The 90-minute sessions will be for readings and discussions.
Plus V125PC coincides with the Vancouver International Writers Festival, which means there will be a lot of literary madness going on in this city.
Anna Marie Sewell can add Poet Laureate to her impressive list of artistic accomplishments. The writer of poetry, theatre, stories and songs becomes the City of Edmonton’s fourth Poet Laureate on July 1, 2011.
Her first book of poetry, Fifth World Drum, was nominated for numerous awards including the Stephan G. Stephansson Award. City of Edmonton Book Prize, the Alberta’s Readers’ Choice Award and the ReLit award. The book won critical acclaim across Canada and I’m looking forward to reading it, now that it’s back on my radar.
The National Book Count is running from January 10-16. Ugh, I’m a day behind.
Here’s the Press Release:
Vancouver, January 10, 2011
Canadians like to think we are a nation of readers. This week we’re going to test this cherished belief. We are counting how many books are purchased in stores and checked out from public libraries—both adult and children’s book in French and English. How many books do we buy and borrow on a typical week in January?
For the next seven days (January 10-16) The National Reading Campaign in partnership with BookNet Canada, BookManager, la Société de gestion de la Banque de titres de langue française (BTLF) and The Canadian Urban Libraries Council is going to count the total books sold in Canadian retail outlets or checked out from eighteen major public library systems across Canada.*
Never before have these organizations worked together to tabulate one number for the acquisition of total books in Canada. We estimate we will capture more than 80% of book retail sales and the circulation habits of ten million Canadians. What will the number reveal?
On January 19th on the eve of TD National Reading Summit II: Toward a Nation of Readers we will announce the results. The National Book Count will shed new light on how central reading is in Canadians’ lives today and will serve as a baseline number for Book Counts in years to come and for comparative Book Counts with other countries.
It all begins this week.
About the National Reading Campaign
In 2008 a group of concerned librarians, parent activists, authors, booksellers, teachers, publishers and corporate leaders came together with a common goal—developing a national reading strategy for Canada and Quebec.~ Out of this initiative the TD National Reading Summits were born. Summit I was held in Toronto in 2009, Summit II will be in Montreal and Summit III is planned for Vancouver.~ For more information on the program, speakers, accommodations or information on last year’s summit visit http://www.nationalreadingcampaign.ca
*The combined aggregators will reach an estimated 80% of the total retail market and The Canadian Urban Libraries Council will track circulation figures for the public libraries in Halifax, Gatineau, Brampton, Burlington, Hamilton, Kitchener, Markham, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Whitby, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Burnaby, Greater Victoria, Richmond, Surrey and The Vancouver Island Regional Library system.
My artist friend Rachael Ashe (who does the awesome altered books) is participating in Vancouver’s Eastside Culture Crawl from Friday, November 26 to Sunday, November 28!
The Eastside Culture Crawl is an annual free 3-day visual arts event that involves more than 10,000 people visiting over 375 artists in their studios. The studios are all in the Eastside, the area bounded by Main Street, Victoria Drive, First Avenue to the waterfront.
Please come visit Rachael’s Studio and buy some beautiful artwork. It’s her first year in the Eastside Culture Crawl.
Although the altered books are my favourite, they may not be yours. That’s ok! Rachael also does wonder collages and metal prints. There will also be a large-scale paper craft tree and the series of encyclopedias most recently on display at the Container Art show at the PNE.
FYI: There is no live broadcast of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. It starts at 6 pm PST this Friday night, and runs 2 hours and 8 minutes. If you’re interested, good luck.
CTV and NBC intend to package it and transmit it in the early afternoon Saturday (check your listings).
As for watching the Games, CTV plans to only broadcast the sledge hockey games that include a Canadian team live, and is only carrying a total of 25 English hours of about 200 hours available, most of it in nightly 90-minute packages. For those of you who tried to watch NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, the Paralympic coverage will be even worst. NBC plans a total of 20 hours, some of it weeks after the events are held.
For diligent, internet-bound viewers, you can watch the Opening Ceremony live. The International Paralympic Committee has a web broadcast site that will carry it (and most of the Games competitions) live.