books on the radio

Digital Piracy vs the Left Hand of Darkness

TheLeftHandOfDarkness1stEd Pirates are upon us!  They’re assailing us with their dastardly ways, their electronic disseminations, their digital altruisms.  Quickly, assemble the attorneys and dispatch them to litigate the readership!

That quivering lip is corporate book publishing wondering what to do next about file sharing, bit torrents and the stealthy denizens of the Pirate Bay.

Digital book piracy has made it to the pages of the New York Times and it seems that the hand wringing is about to begin in earnest about how to deal with digital books leaked to the web.

Kassia Kroszer lends her sensibility to the argument with this post on the issue at her Booksquare blog.  She notes while Ursula Le Guin and her publisher are dismayed to find digital versions of her book the Left Hand of Darkness on file sharing sites that it may actually indicate that there’s an unserved market for her work in this format and not an opportunity for panic.

Cory Doctorow closes the NYT article by saying, “I really feel like my problem isn’t piracy,” Mr. Doctorow said. “It’s obscurity.”

The waters are churning.


What is a Book Good For? Brian Dettmer Reimagines
May 12, 2009, 3:28 PM
Filed under: Enthusiasms | Tags: ,

Picture 2 Brian Dettmer is an artist whose medium is the book.  That’s not to say that he’s an artist of pen and ink but rather an artist of scalpel, tweezers… and books themselves.  He dissects books, he creates sublime sculptures with them.

Some mind blowing stuff.  If you’re in Chicago, San Francisco, New York or Barcelona right now – and why wouldn’t you be? – check out his website for details on the exhibitions currently wrecking minds in those towns.

Check out the Flickr feed here.  Illness.

Thanks to my buddy Zach Browman for pointing this out to me.

Negativland, Copyright and Creative Commons

Mark Hosler speaks about writing the sampling license for Creative Commons and his views on Copyright and creative culture.  Mr Hosler believes that our current copyright laws are irreparably broken if not completely misguided or totally unnecessary.  Read the Negativland essay Two Relationships to a Cultural Public Domain.

Books on the Radio Demo feat. Monique Trottier, Benjamin Brown Books
May 11, 2009, 8:52 PM
Filed under: Podcasts | Tags: , , ,

Ok!  After a near interminable wait we have the Books on the Radio demo for your listening pleasure.  Just click the link in the previous sentence and pump the volume.

But actually, wait.

Since it’s a demo and I’m working with a new handheld voice recorder and some weird editing software there’s some uneven patches to the sound.  The recording is a little rough around the edges, as they say, but that’s all on me and I’ll get that stuff worked out soon enough.

The first bit is Monique Trottier recorded live at the Shebeen Whiskey Bar in downtown Vancouver.  It’s her opening remarks to a large gathering of people who came to hear her speak on her experiences at South by Southwest earlier this year.

I will be doing another interview with Monique tomorrow where we will hopefully expand on her ideas here and explore other areas that she has barely touched on here.

The second bit is an excerpt from a conversation that I had with Meghan Spong and Christopher Aslan from Benjamin Brown Books at their offices a few weeks ago.  Will try to punch up the sound and edit down the entire interview for re-posting later.

Thanks everybody.  More coming soon.

Monique Trottier, Kassia Krozser, Richard Nash and Cory Doctorow
May 11, 2009, 7:52 PM
Filed under: Enthusiasms | Tags: , , , ,

During the early days of planning Books on the Radio I put together a Facebook group – just something quick and fun that could kind of stand as a bookmark to future intentions.  I would occasionally post links there for people to peruse but mostly I would post the links to remind myself to come back to these things later.

Well, later is now.  Here’s some of the more interesting people whose writing and ideas about books have influenced my vision for the show.

So Misguided: Monique Trottier is leading the revolution.  This is her blog about books, the book industry, technology and marketing.  Smart, passionate and ready to help.

Booksquare: Voice of the shifting sands.  Funny, passionate dissection of the publishing industry with a focus on the technologies.  Essential reading for anyone interested in the future of the book.

Richard Nash: Ex-Soft Skull guru has gone solo.  One of the strongest and most experienced voices in the conversation.  He’s not afraid to advocate experimentation.

The Book Publicity Blog – Pretty self-explanatory.  Excellent, straight-forward style.

This could go on all day.

I think that these four links are good for now – but it should be noted that you’re really not going anywhere in this conversation about books, the future of books, the ascendant technologies, copyright or whatever, without the expressed written consent of Cory Doctorow.   Check out his craphound blog and if you’re not regularly hitting up the boingboing then please check yourself for a pulse.

Bookkake, and thinking about Print on Demand
May 11, 2009, 4:03 PM
Filed under: Enthusiasms | Tags: ,

Monday morning skimming some of the bookish resources, doing a little catch up.

Today’s recommendation.


is a Print on Demand publisher of ‘new and classic works of transgressive literature’ based in the UK.  They’ve got some delicious looking books including freshly designed editions of Venus in Furs, the Torture Garden and Fanny Hill.  They don’t currently ship their books to Canada – for reasons I don’t fully understand – but I’m going to try to get my hands on a few of their books anyway.  I’m very interested in the Print on Demand technologies and it looks like Bookkake has done a nice job here.  I would like to take a closer look at the production/design quality.

They also have a kick ass blog that features an excellent piece on the whole #amazonfail fiasco, linking it to the recent censorship storm at the Dubai festival which I also find interesting.

Then there’s, which is a site that exists to ‘report, catalogue, investigate, stimulate and debate the future of literature’.  It’s curated by the people who run Bookkake.

Great stuff.

Amazon Kindle 2 is following me on Twitter!
May 9, 2009, 4:36 PM
Filed under: Enthusiasms | Tags: , ,

If I wasn’t so scatterbrained I would be all over this already – a smooth operating social networking multi-platforming mixologist in command of the various technologies that deliver and receive all of the transcendent ideas floating or twittering in the aether.  A kind of human radar.

As I wrote the above sentences my blackberry vibrated, indicating that someone somewhere was tugging on my coat about something.  Reaching over to pick up the blackberry I toggled the rollerball and brought the screen to life.

And what news appeared?  Well, apparently Amazon Kindle 2 is now following me on Twitter.


I am always looking for a reliable light source in the permanent dusk of the new media environment.

Chris Webb’s blog on publishing and technology is an excellent source of illumination. Chris works as an Associate Publisher for Wiley in the states and tackles a lot of questions and ideas that I find interesting.  Great style and I’m looking forward to devouring all of it.

That’s today’s recommendation.