books on the radio


Announcing Bookcamp Vancouver 2010: Friday October 1st!

Friday, October 1st, 2010. SFU Harbour Centre. Cost = Free.

Happy to make an official announcement about Bookcamp Vancouver 2010!

The second annual installment will occur in downtown Vancouver on the classic binary date of 01.10.10.

It will be hosted again this year by the good people at SFU Harbour Centre, more specifically the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing which features the Masters of Publishing Program and the Summer Publishing Workshops – both of which feature amazing faculty and produce the leaders of tomorrow.

Our friends at BookNet Canada have once again generously sponsored the event! They rule, we love them, you should too.

The organizing team will be taking a more active curatorial role this year in an effort to bring everyone a more focused and informative day. We have decided to cut back the number of sessions, too, while including more time for conversation between sessions.

We hope that these decisions will provide a better experience for everyone.

Please check out our wiki and become a fan of our Facebook Page, too.

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments please don’t hesitate to let me or any of the organizers know.

See you in October!



Thoughts on the Arrival of Amazon to Canada

Cultural Industry? Online sales? Protecton from Competition?

A week or so ago I wrote a piece criticizing Chapters/Indigo for not having any stock of David Shields’ new hard cover front list title, Reality Hunger, a day after the announced release date.

Not only did they have no stock, they had yet to place an order for this book that was getting embarrassingly good media coverage among the tastemakers of the pop culture world and the pillars of the establishment.

Fine.  Not a single physical copy available for sale in the entire country.

If I was responsible for sales for the largest publisher in the English speaking world I’d be satisfied with zero copies available for purchase in the largest chain store in an entire territory, as well.  Who wouldn’t?

That’s how you support the people in marketing & publicity who have just busted their asses to get the word out via Bookslut, Fader Magazine, The NYT, Globe and Mail, the Millions etc… right?

By not having books physically available for sale.

*

But whatever, as my friends working in the industry exclaimed at once, your expectations are too high for both parties.

“Why don’t you just go online and buy it?” They asked, as tho they’d suddenly become a chorus from Thucydides.

*

Cold realism & harsh efficiency.  Those are the touchstones of book publishing.

Don’t bother us with your questions about a new book of literary criticism, we’ve got LOLCat Colleckshuns to sell.

Get over it, Cranbury, buy the fucking book online and quit having expectations based on this antiquated notion of brick and mortar supply chain fulfillment.

What do you think this is, 2004?

*

So we’ve collectively recognized publicly and finally that brick and mortar stores are a tertiary concern.  Well down the list of checkable priorities.

Online ordering is how people shop – hell, I buy a lot of books thru Amazon – and that’s just the plain facts.

Fine, no problem.

We’ve seen Chapters/Indigo, Costco, Amazon, Wal-Mart and their kin eviscerate any semblance of competition from independent booksellers in this country and elsewhere over the past 15 years and completely change the book publishing landscape.

We’ve learned to accept that.

BookExpo Canada, like poor old Humber Humbert, died of coronary thrombosis in the spring of 2009.

It’s over, the game has changed.

OK, I get it.

*

So why is there even an agrument against Amazon coming in to Canada and setting up a distribution centre?

Increased efficiency & lower prices.  That’s what we want, right?

Competition drives the price down and keeps everybody honest.  Hell, books might actually be available when customers want them.

Who needs a traditional supply chain?

And, really, why would we seek to protect Chapters/Indigo from competition?



Advent Book Blog: Arriving December 1st, 2009
November 27, 2009, 12:06 AM
Filed under: Enthusiasms | Tags: , , , , , ,

On December 1st, Julie ‘Book Madam‘ Wilson and myself, will unveil our new collaborative project, The Advent Book Blog: Great Books Recommended by Great People.

The idea behind it is simple: authors, publishing professionals, bloggers, and booksellers will write short enthusiastic recommendations of their favorite books that have been published in the last year.  We’ll publish a few of these every day, including pics and links for the books.  We’ll also publish short bios and photos of everyone who contributes.

It’s what we’re calling the Digital Handsell 3.0.  Just in time for the Holiday Season.

Here’s how it works:

We’ve asked our participants to respond to the following imaginary scenario: You’re working in your favorite bookstore and a customer walks into the store and tells you that he/she needs a good book.  A gift for a curious, open-minded and adventurous reader.  The customer is someone that you’ve helped many times before and they trust your taste implicitly, but they’re in a hurry.

In 25 words or less (or more, depending on your sense of restraint) what book do you recommend?  What book, regardless of genre, format, relative bestsellerness, colour or shape, gets your unequivocal stamp of awesomeness?

Tune in on December 1st to find out!



Makers: The Cory Doctorow Interview (Built from Scratch)
Cory Doctorow Banner

Cory Doctorow Photo by Jonathan Worth.

This interview has it all.  Well, some of it.  In pieces.  Kinda glued together.

Click here to hear the podcast of my interview with Cory.

I called Cory on Thursday November 12th, 2009 from Control Booth B at CJSF.  He was in his hotel room getting started on a day of media publicity for the launch of his new book, Makers, published by Tor Books.

I have no idea whether I was his first interview of the day but I am certain that I wasn’t his last.

He did TVOntario, CBC’s The Hour with George Strombo and countless other interviews throughout the day.

He eventually finished with a talk at the Toronto SF reference library, the Merril Collection, where his old friends at Bakka Phoenix Books (where Cory once worked as a bookseller) sold out of books for him to sign.

His talk the next day at the National Reading Summit was a huge success according to all of my sources in Toronto.

Well, all of my sources except the Globe and Mail’s John Barber, who apparently couldn’t be bothered to actually show up.  Not that a little detail like being physically present prevented him from writing about it.

But back to the interview that you may or may not have already started listening to.

It’s a bit of a reanimated corpse brought together by magic and electricity.  The sound quality is off and my recording software kinda crashed about half way through then came back to life again and then died for good.

So I apologize for the quality and I promise that I’m going to get this whole ‘sound’ thing figured out.  I finish the show off with a recording of Cory’s reading from the Makers that night at the the Merril Collection Science Fiction Reference Library in front of his home town audience.  It’s a great piece about Suzanne Church’s first encounter with a few of the Makers. A scene that I allude to earlier in our talk.

I still like the interview, though.  I’m sorry that an infernal machine ate chunks of our conversation about DRM and most of the talk on Google Books and everything about his With a Little Help Project that he’s cataloging for Publisher’s Weekly.

Here’s the video from his excellent talk on TVOntario:



Me and the Book Madam: We’re Cookin’ Somethin’ Up!

Some of my most dedicated readers know that I’m good in the kitchen.  I’m always workin’ with the heat and mixin’ the ingredients and layin’ surprise concoctions of extreme tantalization upon your tongues!

Well… this Holiday Season I’m stepping away from the charcoal broiler, the freshly oiled cedar planks and the dwarf-sized oak peppermill and I’m stepping back into the ring of Bookseller.

A kind of Bookselling 3.0 Digital Handsell / Best Books of the Holiday Season by the People Who Should Know – the Writers, Booksellers, Editors, Designers, Publicists and other Creators who help bring great books into the world.

The irrepressible Julie Wilson aka the Book Madam (and the artist formerly known as the Seen Reading lady, who may or may not be making a surprise reappearance of her own in a certain iconic American digital periodical)  is joining me in largest non alcohol related herding of book publishing professionals in Canadian History.

The 2009 Advent Books Calendar

Julie and I are working to gather some of the best people that we know in books – from the booksellers to the writers to all points on the publishing compass – to bring you their selections for the best books for gift giving this holiday season.

We’ll be publishing 3+ book reviews a day on out TBA Blog.  Each review will be written in 25 words or less!

That’s right.  Maximum enthusiasm, minimum space.

Micro-reviews of the best books available to make your shopping easier.

If you’re in publishing and we haven’t contacted you yet and you’re sure that we would because, seriously, what are we, crazy?  Then drop me a line sean[at]booksontheradio[dot]ca.

It all starts on December 1.



Impact of Piracy and P2P on Book Sales: Frankfurt

Impact Of Piracy And Free ( T O C F F)

View more presentations from bfoleary.
Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media has updated the data for his Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales.  He presented this update at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair.
Brian’s research and methods have been very influential on my own work.


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).”