books on the radio

Sociable! with Advent Book Blog & Open Book Toronto

Advent Book Blog & Open Book Toronto Present: Sociable!

The Advent Book Blog and Open Book Toronto Want You to Get Sociable! 

Get offline. Come be social. Then tell everyone on Twitter and Facebook where you are and how much fun you’re having! Twitter hashtag: #soc10

Sean Cranbury and Julie Wilson of The Advent Book Blog and Open Book Toronto cordially invite you to an event for social media geeks, publishing professionals, and anyone with a passion for books and readers.

Thursday, March 25, 2010
7:00 PM
The Pour House Irish Pub
182 Dupont Ave.
Toronto, ON

Leading up to the event, Julie Wilson of Book Madam & Associates will unveil the identity of the six inaugural Associates, many of whom will be at the event. Find them and say hello!

And be sure to get a piece of Sean Cranbury of Books on the Radio while he’s in town from Vancouver. He’s the big guy with the big voice and an bigger heart. Don’t miss him!

Many thanks to Amy Logan Holmes and Open Book Toronto for their generous support and donation of light nibblies. Nom!

Bring your insatiable thirst and enthusiasm! SOCIABLE!


SFU Summer Publishing Workshops: Sign Up Now to Attend

Sign Up Now to Study Book Publishing in Vancouver, Summer 2010.

Summertime in Vancouver

+ studying book/magazine publishing at SFU

= some kind of perfect bliss.

It’s time for you to do some serious thinking about coming out to Vancouver to bask in the glory of one of the best book publishing programs in the world.  And to experience the radiant, sublime amazingness of this city at the height of summer.

Bleeding Edge Ideas Calmly Discussed.

SFU has unveiled their program for the 2010 Summer Publishing Workshops and it looks pretty serious.

Some of the best and most experienced people in the business combined with some of the brightest lights in new media will be on hand to give students an unforgettable learning experience.

Vancouver is home to some of the best doers and thinkers in the digital area.

People who not only actively engage the web, social media and the digital landscape but who are excellent communicators about that experience.

There’s no better example of this than Lisa Manfield and Rebecca Bollwit on Marketing Magazines Online.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about the Justice League of America style panel that’ll be leading students through the session called Digital Strategy: Editor’s Intensive featuring: John ‘Hawkman’ Maxwell, Joy ‘Invisible Plane’ Gugler, Boris ‘Aquaman’ Mann and Monique ‘Super Girl’ Trottier.

Just take a moment to think about those people.  Check out those links and look at the quality of work that they do.

What kind of ideas are they capable of unlocking in you?

And I haven’t even mentioned industry powerhouse thinkers like O’Reilly Media’s Andrew Savikas, Neelan Choksi of Lexcycle, Mark Coker from Smashwords, Chris Lanbonte, Ali Cairns and Jesse Finkelstein from D&M Publishers, Sarah ‘Smart Bitches‘ Wendell, Richard Nash, and Kobo’s Michael Tamblyn to name only a few.

Learn the Fundamentals from Industry Masters.

And there’s much knowledge and wisdom to be gleaned from the best minds in traditional publishing, too.

Take a look at this roll call of industry vets:

Tom Best from HB Fenn and Key Porter Books, Randy Chan, Brad Martin and Kristin Cochrane from Random House Canada, Simon and Schuster Canada’s Kevin Hanson, Donna Hayes from Harlequin Enterprises, the legendary David Kent from Harper Collins Canada, Brian Lam from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press and Kevin Williams from TalonBooks will all be on hand to give you the 411 on the real challenges and opportunities that the book publishing industry faces going forward.

Pretty frickin’ amazing.


So here’s the deal: Think about it, then do something about it.

The best minds in traditional book and magazine publishing + guiding lights in new media + sunlight, Stanley Park, mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The answer to the question is Yes.  As in “Yes, I’m going to do it,” and “Yes, I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Imagine what you’ll learn.  Imagine the new ideas, fresh perspectives and great people that you’ll meet.

And I’ll be there, too.  I’ll be reprising and updating the talk that I gave last year called Digital Rights Management vs the Inevitability of Free Content.

For more info on what courses are available, a full list of faculty and details on costing and accommodation please check the SFU Publishing Workshops website and/or send me an email.

Hope to see you there.

O’Reilly Radar Picks Up the Future of Publishing Interview

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Mark Sigal at O’ included a link to the Open Book: Toronto interview that I recently did with Book Oven‘s Hugh McGuire in his most recent O’Reilly Radar posting.

To be mentioned positively on the O’Reilly Radar is a huge enough honor but to be included in a piece about the revolutionary prospects of the forthcoming Apple tablet… well, that’s just beyond words.

Mr Sigal’s piece begins with this quote:

“It is August, 1927, and Al Jolson is industriously, unwittingly, engaged in the destruction of one great art form and the creation of another…In four short years, the ‘talkie’ will completely subsume the silent movie.” – from The Speed of Sound by Scott Eyman

Here’s what he had to say about our interview:

In “The Future of Publishing,” Sean Cranbury and Hugh McGuire do a beautiful job of getting to the it of what makes a book, a book.

They say that the primary thing a book has to do is “fulfill its promise as a transmitter/inspirer of ideas, art, thoughts, story, entertainment.”

Thanks again to Amy and Clelia at Open Book: Toronto for being so great.  And to Hugh McGuire for being an amazing accomplice in this.

Viral Book Marketing and the ISBN

The ISBN – International Standard Book Number – is the unique 13 digit number or commercial book identifier that adorns the upc bar on the back of every book that’s available through standard trade channels.  It’s the completely innocuous string of numbers within the little white rectangle on the back of the book jacket, usually in the bottom right corner. Out of the way, where no one can see it.

The ISBN is relegated to that remote jurisdiction because it’s not intended for use by the customer.  It’s an industry identifier that booksellers, publishers, distributors, etc… use to specify and differentiate one book from another.

For instance, Penguin may have several different editions of a particular book still in print. Classics like Crime and Punishment are available in different translations, or newly reprinted editions and can be simultaneously available in trade, hard cover or mass market editions, each of which will have a separate, unique ISBN.

To the average book customer the details of the ISBN are useless.  They just need to provide the bookseller with title, author, whether they want the book in hard cover or paperback, what they’re willing to pay and how long they’re willing to wait if the book is not currently in stock.  That’s it.  The ISBN does not need to be a part of the conversation.

Yet publishers insist on including the ISBN number in their print and digital advertising and it doesn’t make any sense.

I’ll use the otherwise masterful viral book trailer for Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice as an example.

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The above picture is a screen capture from the very end of the Pynchon book trailer and it gives the customer all the information she needs to make a purchase: name of the author, title of the book and date of release.  Done.  Customer has the info and can walk to their neighborhood bookstore or order it online.

The Penguin Press throws their logo in there as they should, then there’s some extra promotional writing in the upper right corner which is just a little narrative snapshot for the benefit of the customer and that’s fine, too.  A really tight little package that the marketing/publicity people at Penguin should be proud of.

But they just can’t stop themselves from including the ISBN!  It’s that mess of numbers to the right of the author/title info at the top of the video.

You know, 9781594202247.

It shouldn’t be there for a couple of reasons but mostly because it looks like crap.  It’s visual clutter and it’s completely unnecessary.

For instance, since the book just recently came out and it’s the only book with that particular title by that particular author in print what are the chances that a customer will order the wrong copy of Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon by calling her favourite bookstore or punching those details into the search bar at Amazon? Zero, right?

Some have suggested that Penguin included the ISBN because it helps booksellers with their orders but that doesn’t make any sense either.  If there’s a bookseller in North America that isn’t aware of the imminent appearance of a major new book written by a major author and published by one of the biggest publishers in the world then someone somewhere isn’t doing their job and it shouldn’t take a video posted on YouTube on the day of release to alert them.

Good marketing like good writing happens when you remove all the unnecessary parts and give the reader the pure essence.

The ISBN is not a part of that pure visual essence.  It has its place and that place is not as a part of the advertising and marketing of a book.

Inherent Vice vs. Gravity’s Rainbow: An All Pynchon Friday

OMFG!  The greatest book trailer ever produced.  An absolutely brilliant sell job by the folks in marketing/publicity at Penguin USA.  Great cinematography, excellent editing, great music, great voice, great tone.  Whoever was in charge of making this happen just lapped the field, set the bar and shouldn’t be the one buying drinks until some time in 2010.

(However… come back from lunch, book people… is it really necessary to put the ISBN 13 in the title of the video?  What are you thinking?  Just for the record, just so that we can move past this point: nobody cares about the ISBN number.  Nobody.  Not a single person that I know ever thinks about it.  At no point has anyone ever said, “Gee, that book sounds familiar, maybe if you tell me the ISBN number it’ll jog my memory.”  Just sayin’.)

And why not follow it up with a glimpse back in time to those old, cold days of the Nixon Administration in 1973 when Thomas Pynchon won the National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow?  Cool little video featuring George Plimpton and the man who accepted the award on behalf of Mr Pynchon, Irvin Corey.

Thomas Pynchon.  One of the truly great writers of our time.  Have a great weekend.

Indie Writer Uploads to Kindle, Scores 2 Book Deal

cover_thearkBoyd Morrison is certainly an interesting guy.  Not only does he represent the first known instance of a writer completely subverting the traditional submission process for turning a manuscript into a printed work – he went around the slush pile like water around a rock – but he’s also worked for NASA, Microsoft and he’s been on Jeopardy!  And he’s an actor.  And he lives just a few hours away in Seattle, Washington.  All good, as they say.

Bronwyn Kienapple brought this up over at Book Ninja earlier today and it’s bound to generate a lot of discussion.

If nothing else Amazon/Kindle is looking really good right now while Simon and Schuster may come off looking like geniuses.  Or early-adopting opportunists but why split hairs?  For his part – from my experience with his website – Morrison seems like a shrewd self-promoter with enough technical expertise, writerly talent and gumption to subvert the traditional publishing acquistions process.  A trail blazer, you might say.

Both the Ark and another book in the series will be published in hard cover next year.  The details of how this happened and who at Simon & Schuster recognized the potential in the author and book is still nebulous.

Some details are available at Susan Tunis’ blog and while we’re all waiting for an official story I’m going to try to contact Boyd for a Books on the Radio interview!  For people who are interested in some of the meta-details here’s a link to a Kindle discussion board hosted by the author.

BC Bookseller’s Round-Up: Initiating and Adapting to Change

During the past weekend I spoke to the British Columbia Booksellers Association at their annual conference.  I was asked to speak to the group about social media, community building and engaging the digital world to get the word out.  An interesting proposition, for sure, but everything went really well.  The booksellers were really enthusiastic, asked a ton of questions and I think that everybody came away from the weekend feeling like they had learned a few things and made a few new friends.  I know that I did.

One of the ideas that I suggested to booksellers interested in learning more about blogging and other social networking opportunities is to start their digital journey by listening to and reading the people who are already really good at it.  I recommended Kassia Krozser of Booksquare and Julie Wilson of Toronto’s House of Anansi Press and Seen Reading as excellent resources for the beginner.

To my joy and delight Booksquare has published the perfect blog post to support my recommendations.  To quote…

“It is surely the rare soul in the publishing ecosystem who believes the business tomorrow will resemble the business of today. Change, being change, is messy stuff, best managed through experimentation. You can design the best process in the world, but until real people get their hands in the system, you don’t really know what will work and how. Change is iterative…

…The booksellers who remain standing — and there will be many! — will react to these losses by changing their retail mix to accommodate new customers while incorporating new sales channels, such as digital. In the physical sense, there is only so much shelf space, and booksellers will, necessarily, be more particular and more aggressive about fresh product. The sheer volume of annual releases, with new titles coming out weekly, leaves the bookseller little room for chancy purchases and backroom stock.

Inventory management will be elevated to an art form as booksellers try to balance the slower reactions of customers who rely upon word-of-mouth with those who chase the latest and greatest. Factor in the enduring popularity of catalog titles, and it’s not hard to see that booksellers will be leaner and meaner (oh, and leaner and meaner indicates that booksellers will be purchasing fewer units because, well, managing returns for credit or cash is not a cheap endeavor).”