Monthly Archives: February 2011

Tools of Change: The Publishing Pie, February 15, 2011

After a blisteringly energy-packed sets-hair-on-fire Book Camp 2, the O’Reilly’s Tools of Change #toccon publishing conference in New York rolled forth on February 14-16. I gave an author’s-view keynote on February 15 called ‘The Publishing Pie,’ which you can see at:

It’s a new experience for me, speaking to techfolk- they’re so sharp their brains poke through their skulls like the pins in the Scarecrow of The Wizard of Oz — but they were kind and indulgent and showed me some new toys. In particular, Pablo Francisco Arrieta from Columbia showed me the picture he drew of me on his Ipad, which you can see below.

Most intriguing for me are the apps that can be used to draw, colour, and paint, and I think I will test some out, though crayons, watercolours, pencils and pens are more my usual speed.

I hand-drew the PowerPoint pictures, some of which you can see below; though for context and the right order I’m afraid you have to look at the video, because no matter what I do I can’t get the slides to line up in this blog the way I want them to. 😦 The book covers include Double Persephone (1961), done with a linoblock carving and a flat-bed press (re: self-publishing!); The Circle Game (1966), done with Letraset and stick-on red legal dots; and Up in the Tree (1978), which I hand-lettered in two colours only, to save money in those early days of Canadian childrens’-book publishing, and which is now out again in a facsimile edition from Groundwood Books (Anansi).

Meanwhile I am at work on the Dead Author T-shirt – two colours, I feel – and will post a link here when it’s done and available on Café Press.

The conference itself was a swirl of ideas- they’re multiplying like amoebas in a well-stocked petrie dish – but the short message is: The book is not dead. Reading is not dead. The human interest in stories is not dead. But we are in the midst of a sea change in transmission tools, the likes of which we have not seen since the Gutenberg print revolution. As with that historical moment, there was a lot of turmoil, and nobody could foresee all the consequences.

(NB: Have now supplied altered Elvis & Hendrix slide, removing the offending ‘Jimmy,’ for which I just got poop. Never COULD spell. It’s Jimi, silly bat. With an i.)

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Book Camp #book2, February 13, 2011

Well, that was a workout! So electrified was I that all my hair stood up on end like the Bride of Frankenstein. (Yes, I know, it already kind of did…)

Off I went to New York on February 13 to be a keynote speaker of O’Reilly’s #toccon book-tools publishing conference. (Speaking about the author as primary source, a sort of small anchovy that en masse fuels whales – e.g. publishing companies — or a sort of dead moose on which more than 30 other life forms draw for nourishment… How many have made a living, so far, on Dead Shakespeare? You cannot count the ways.) (Arcane reference to E.B. Browning.)

But first I went to the premises of Open Sky on 18th Street for a pre-conference industry think-tank at which many bright souls were either holding forth or taking it all in. Publishers, bloggers, e-biz book folks, hopefuls, mopefuls – all sectors were represented, though not many elderly authors such as Self.

Yes, “publishing” (the transferring of stuff from one brain to another by means other than direct vocal contact or the Tube method, as in Young Frankenstein) – publishing, I say – and this is not a world-shaking new insight – yes, publishing, I repeat in Dickensian mode –that method of brain-creation transference that has, since Gutenberg, been using the paper “book” as the mass-transference tool – this “publishing” is in turmoil. And it was said turmoil that was the subject of many a discussion at #book2.

What about blogging, tweeting, and social networking in all its forms? Should authors be expected to do these things to promote their books, and what if they don’t want to? (See for instance Codrescu’s “Soapbox” in PW of January 31, included in our TOC kit, in which he poxes on all their houses.)

What about e-books and the purloining of content therefrom? Are paper books really in trouble, or is it just bookstores who are staring down the throat of Fenris? (Arcane reference to Norse mythology.) Can we credit a comparison between musicians – downloads have cut into the record biz, but just do a lot of concerts, like Lady Gaga? (I’d say not. Which writers would you pay to take off most of their clothes, paint themselves yellow, and cavort about curvaceously with a giant egg? Please do not answer this question. There is such a thing as over-sharing.)

All in all #book2 was livelier than a gaggle of fleas on the Hunger Artist (arcane reference to Franz Kafka), and indeed hunger was at the basis of most of my eldritch questions – all very well, said I, but who pays the artist to keep the poor thing in cheese sandwiches? Or at least enough of them so s/he can get on with the writing thing.

I did try not to say such things as “In the old days, we…” and, “Before e-books and Amazon, we used to…” or, “My generation invented the…” or, “People have been wrestling with that one for at least 1,000 years.” Yes, I did say them a bit. But the young were kindly, and gave me some grapes and cheese, so, being a Fox by nature, and fond of both, (arcane reference to Aesop’s Fables) I had a fine old time. Yes, cheap date, I know; but that is increasingly the problem, for authors: primary food sources are cheap dates.

Curious encounters of the #book2 kind:

Book Blogs:

www.booksonthenightstand.com Ann Kingman

www.bookmavenmedia.com Bethanne Kelly

www.gutenberggirls.com Melissa Klug and Laura Brown

www.litlifela.com Callie Miller

www.dearauthor.com : mentioned by several

www.bookladies.net Also mentioned

www.beatrice.com Ron Hogan – one of the first

www.deborahemin.com : blog about publishing

www.vol1brooklyn.com One of the guys was there, but which one? Toby Carroll!

www.largeheartedboy.com Combines music and books and much else. He was definitely there and known to all, but I didn’t get a card, and where is the name on the website? David Gutowsky!

www.sb-tb.com Smart Bitches, Trashy Books – reviews romance novels. One certifiably smart person was there – whether a bitch or not was unclear at that moment, but she seemed very nice to me.

www.radar.oreilly.com/publishing/ The O’Reilly’s blog.

Many mentioned Bookblogger Appreciation Week.

Also there was www.dailylit.com , which does e-serialization.

www.fsbassociates.com mentioned as an aid to online stuff.

www.LibriVox.com, readers read books out loud, sometimes well

www.bookoven.com, a publishing platform

Amanda Katz, “bibliophile” column in the Boston Globe: www.amandalkatz.com

Old friend Philip Turner, Book Productions philipsturner@gmail.com

And Michel Vrana, Book Designer, at hello@michelvrana.com

And more.

The death of the book has been greatly exaggerated.

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