books on the radio


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).”

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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.



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.