books on the radio

Globe’s Book of the Decade: Zero Comments, Wrong Cover**

US edition of The Deathly Hallows is the Globe and Mail's Book of the Decade.

This is a follow-up to my previous piece on New Rules of Engagement for the book trade in terms of literary journalism and book promotion.

In that piece I took the Globe Books section to task for showing no evidence of being able to connect to or engage an audience online.

What the image above is showing us is the original post for their Book of the Decade piece that first appeared on December 22.  The image above was screen captured on Monday January 4th.

It shows the US cover art for the Harry Potter book and also indicates that there have been zero comments about this post.  (The Globe has since corrected the mistake as a result of Dan Wagstaff’s tweet discussed below and, as of this rewrite, there are now 2 comments attached to the post.)

So, to quickly recap: US cover displayed in Canada’s National Newspaper for the biggest selling book in the history of Canadian publishing and no one notices for 2 weeks.  And a shocking lack of debate attached to the post.

Book. of. the. Decade. Equals. Zero. Debate. Really? Really Really?

Was the choice of Harry Potter so utterly paralyzing to the readership that no one could even be bothered to object, offer an alternative or agree?

Apparently so.

A Breakdown of Some of the Details in this Case:

Book of the Decade inspires zero comments in nearly 2 weeks online.

This is the killer.  Zero comments in nearly 2 weeks on a post featuring what is arguably the pinnacle piece of the past 52 weeks if not longer.

An example of the engagement vacuum happening at Globe Books online.

What is happening here?  Am I missing some crucial metric?

Should a post that distills the greatness of the past 10 years of literature not elicit some kind of debate?  Isn’t an open and passionate exchange of ideas at least part of what literature inspires in people?

Isn’t Globe Books supposed to engage or inspire us in this way?

Take this quote from the Globe Books Facebook page (which hasn’t been updated since August 2009): [Globe Books will] provide readers in Canada with a compelling destination for “one-stop-shop” Books coverage. Also… a new Focus & Books section will be introduced by The Globe as a weekly Saturday section, reaching even more readers with its combined audience base.

Emphasis mine: compelling destination & reaching even more readers.

Online reach is universal – any web page can be read by people all over the world – while content, reputation and community engagement creates a compelling destination.

Here’s a screen capture from my tweetdeck of @GlobeBooks on Monday, January 4th.

@GlobeBooks has 2,346 followers. List 173 times.

The attempt to engage an audience via twitter is there and this is a good sign.  The link included in the above tweet takes the reader to the Book of the Decade piece.

However, when one says that something ‘didn’t get chewed over enough‘ another might be inclined to believe that there was actually some chewing involved.  But there was no chewing of this piece at all.

As noted, GlobeBooks has 2,346 followers and is listed 173 times.  Yet it yields zero feedback.

The 12 ‘thumbs up’ that the Book of the Decade piece received are the equivalent of nods between strangers passing one another on the subway platform at rush hour.

Not really what I’m considering to be engagement.

Here’s a really interesting piece on shifting media landscapes and/or old trusted voices falling on deaf ears: in this case, the once venerable Bono.

and, finally…

Dan Wagstaff of Raincoast Books responds.


The updated page with the Canadian cover of The Deathly Hallows.


Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection. Recommended


Recommended Halloween Reading: Seattle-based writer and filmmaker Don Roff and Oakland, California-based illustrator Chris Lane share an abiding taste in the macabre and have produced the extremely cool and well executed – if you’ll pardon the pun – Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection published by their reanimated minions at Chronicle Books.

Zombies 2

The manuscript that makes up this book documents the author’s time spent living among the undead during those first few months of 2012, or as it’s more commonly known, ‘The Year of Infection‘.

It provides important documentation of the various stages of anatomical deterioration for a victim in the pre and post-mortem states and also notes invaluable anecdotal observations of zombies at close range.

Books on the Radio found the insights, observations and scholarly attention to detail in this book to be crucial in our own recent encounters with wraiths, vampyres and a ghoulish graveyard clerk.  Buy Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection now because it’s a great story and as a manual for recognizing the undead and coping with the the upcoming worldwide necrotic infestation it is not to be missed.

Zombies 3

Zombie Cover