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Alternative markets: why publishers are turning to zine fairs to woo new readers

Canzine, the country’s largest festival dedicated to zines and independent culture, happens this Sunday in Toronto (the Vancouver edition is scheduled for Nov. 17). Following the success of last year’s event, writer Jason Spencer spoke to several independent publishers about the importance of zine fairs to building readership. This article appeared in the Jan./Feb. issue of Q&Q.

(Photo: Jackie Spencer)

Last October, publisher Beth Follett decided to try a new method of connecting with readers: she signed up her company, Pedlar Press, as a vendor at Canzine Toronto, a daylong celebration of indie culture presented by Broken Pencil magazine. Not knowing what to expect, Follett carefully arranged a selection of Pedlar titles on her display table just inside the front doors of the 918 Bathurst Centre, including ReLit Award winners Sweet by Dani Couture and Blood Relatives by Craig Francis Power. As hundreds of misfits, hipsters, and readers began crossing the threshold, she realized she had come to the right place.

“It’s very difficult these days to find an audience and reach new customers,” says Follett, who understands the need to build new alliances as more independent bookstores close down. “It’s very important for me to be here and not in some ivory tower, where only a slice of the populace knows about Canadian literature.”

With nearly 200 vendors, 2010’s Canzine was one of the biggest in its 15-year-plus history. Likewise, thousands of people showed up at Montreal’s Expozine, a two-day event held in November that celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011. “What does this mean for small presses? It’s a motivation to keep publishing,” says organizer Louis Rastelli. He adds that attending alternative gatherings can be eye-opening for people in the established book industry. “If the industry doesn’t get involved in what the new generation is doing, similar to the music [business], they [will] have some catching up to do.”

ChiZine’s Brett Savory (Photo: Jackie Spencer)

For some small presses, zine fairs perform a similar function to book launches. “You can do direct sales, so it’s a little cash boost, especially around the holidays when the [printer’s] bills are coming in,” says Nic Boshart, co-publisher of Invisible Publishing, which has had a presence at recent gatherings in Toronto, Halifax, and Montreal. But for many, such events are not so much about sales as they are about building relationships with new readers. Brett Savory, co-publisher of ChiZine Publications, says he attended Canzine Toronto in the hopes of accumulating social-media followers and promoting the press’s monthly Chiaroscuro reading series. Boshart adds that zine fairs are a good place to scout talent and network with presses one wouldn’t otherwise meet.

Not only do zine fairs bring scores of cultural artifacts to the public, they also provide a venue for interesting side events. In an effort to trump the previous year’s Puppet Slam, Canzine organized the Typewriter Orchestra Room, a cacophonous installation featuring a dozen poets attempting to channel Shakespeare. Canzine also hosted more conventional readings from authors such as Jonah Campbell, who read from his essay collection Food and Trembling (Invisible), and Expozine welcomed author Jonathan Goldstein, host of CBC Radio’s WireTap.

Such inventive programming can be an opportunity for authors who don’t fit in elsewhere. “If you can’t get a reading, make your own show,” says first-time Canzine Toronto vendor and seasoned attendee Liz Worth, author of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond (Bongo Beat/ECW Press) and the poetry collection Amphetamine Heart (Guernica Editions). “You really have to get creative and you have to push really hard.”

Invisible’s Nic Boshart (Photo: Jackie Spencer)

Still, publishers who want to succeed at zine fairs need to adapt in order to stand out. Given the number of exhibitors at Expo­zine  – more than 270 – Rastelli recommends that publishers avoid selling titles at list price. “A lot of customers would like a bit of everything instead of spending all their money at one table, so we encourage people to have inexpensive books,” he says. “Even a publisher of perfect-bound books can produce a small zine worth $2, and at least if someone doesn’t buy a $20 book, they can go home with a sampler.” For her part, Follett, who plans to attend Canzine Toronto again in 2012, says she doesn’t advertise prices, in order to encourage discussion with interested readers.

Follett suggests potential vendors should think twice before dismissing zine fairs as lowbrow. “[T]here is a lot of ignorance, some of it willful, about who is producing art in Canada,” she says. “This is the ground where seeds are being planted for future excellence.”

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Quillcast video: designer David Gee reveals one of his all-time favourite covers

Quillcast is a podcast and video series from Quill & Quire featuring behind-the-scenes conversations with authors and publishing insiders.

In the second video of the series, freelance book designer David Gee discusses the creative process behind one of his favourite covers, Corey Redekop’s debut novel Shelf Monkey (ECW Press).

Gee, who works full-time as director of creative services at the Toronto International Film Festival, designs books for a variety of clients, including HarperCollins Canada, Penguin Canada, and ECW.

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Photos: Richard Crouse launches Raising Hell

On Oct. 1, cinephiles, friends, and other well-wishers gathered at Toronto’s No One Writes to the Colonel to mark the launch of film critic Richard Crouse’s Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils (ECW Press).

Crouse, a regular contributor to Canada A.M., was joined onstage by CTV’s Seamus O’Regan.

Click on the thumbnails to see photos of the evening.

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Photos: Dave Bidini launches A Wild Stab for It

Dave Bidini donned his vintage Hockey Night in Canada jacket to launch his latest non-fiction title, A Wild Stab for It: This Is Game Eight from Russia (ECW Press), on Sept. 11 at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto.

Bidini, one of Canada’s most prolific writers on hockey culture, read from the book, which collects stories from the 1972 Summit Series between the Soviet and Canadian teams, and performed a few tunes with the Bidiniband.

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ECW Press launches pop culture series

Chances are the Zit Remedy will appear in a few proposals for ECW's new pop culture series

When U.K. publisher Continuum put out a call for its popular 33 1/3 music-essay series earlier this year, it received 471 submissions. Judging from that number, Toronto’s ECW Press will have no problems finding people who want to write for its new line of pop culture books.

Pop Classics will offer “intelligent but accessible arguments about why a particular pop phenomenon matters,” according to an ECW press release. Each title will run between 20,000 to 40,000 words, and can be about any TV show, book series, author, film, band, or video game – whatever subject “has you giving a well-intentioned Skinny Puppy CD to your grandma or Degrassi DVDs to your dad.”

Submission guidelines are available on the ECW website.

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Pet project: Mark Dillon’s Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys

A page from Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys (photo: ECW Press)

When Toronto journalist Mark Dillon decided to make the Beach Boys the subject of his first book, he knew there would be obstacles ahead. The biggest was how to write about the revered pop group in a way that was fresh. After all, typing “Beach Boys” into Amazon’s search engine nets over 6,000 results for books alone, including one published last year entitled The Beach Boys FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About America’s Band.

Coincidentally enough, it was while walking on a beach that Dillon remembered the band’s 50th anniversary takes place this year. He had also noticed how prevalent the Beach Boys had become in mainstream culture. Young musicians kept citing them as an influence, and several TV shows (including Men of a Certain Age and Big Love) were using their music as theme songs.

Dillon decided to run with the “50” idea, and set out to interview 50 people about 50 of the Beach Boys’ most notable songs, turning each interview into a chapter. The result, Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys: The Songs that Tell Their Story (ECW Press), is a fascinating addition to the Beach Boys canon that keeps the music front and centre, and makes clear the band’s long-lasting influence on popular music.

Interviewees include former Beach Boys collaborators like Pet Sounds lyricist Tony Asher and producer Steve Levine; contemporary indie musicians like the Shins’ James Mercer, Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, and She & Him vocalist and actress Zooey Deschanel; and, most hard-won, all five surviving Beach Boys: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks.

Though Dillon is a long-time fan of the band, he bucked the trend that’s seen writers like Dave Bidini, Kevin Chong, and Robert J. Wiersema pen hero-worshipping memoirs to their musical idols. Instead, Dillon put to use the skills he honed as a freelance entertainment journalist and as former editor of Playback, the Canadian broadcast industry trade publication.

“I took the fan knowledge I had but really tried to make the book a journalistic enterprise, using whatever chops I have in terms of chasing down interviews and asking the right questions,” says Dillon, who interviewed Brian Wilson for Maclean’s in 2010 (excerpts of which appear in Fifty Sides). “The book celebrates the band’s music but is not so much about what I feel about it. There might be a few people out there who care what I think, but I’m pretty sure more are interested in what other musicians and the Beach Boys themselves think.”

This approach required persistence. For every interview published, there are approximately nine others Dillon wasn’t able to get, including Smile lyricist Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson’s early muse and first wife, Marilyn. “I cast a wide net,” he says. “Pretty much anyone you’d think I’d approach I probably did. But I have to say that those who responded were, for the most part, at the top
of my list.”

The toughest get was Beach Boys guitarist and sometime lead vocalist Al Jardine, who took 16 months to warm to the idea. Dillon reached him by phone, only to have Jardine say he still had to think about it. “My deadline was approaching and I had one spot left for ‘Help Me, Rhonda,’” Dillon says. “I really needed him to talk about it. It was a number-one song and he sang it!”

Dillon, to whom Jardine eventually gave a generous interview, chalks up the wariness to the fact that most Beach Boys books focus on the sordid aspects of their career: the drug use, the partying and girls, the abusive Wilson patriarch, and Brian’s mental illness. While he didn’t shy away from those subjects – there is, for example, a revelatory interview with one of Dennis Wilson’s childhood friends about the drummer’s close ties to Charles Manson – Dillon used that context to shed light on the songs.

Dillon’s next challenge was convincing a publisher to take a chance on the book.

“There was a lot of rejection,” he admits. “A lot of publishers thought the approach was unmanageable. Like, ‘How are you going to tell the story by 50 people talking about the songs, jumping time frames, et cetera?’ They felt it was going to be a mishmash going off in a lot of different directions.”

So he refined his approach, making each chronological chapter less about the commentator and more about where the band was at that point in its history. Early on, he pitched the book to ECW Press, which had published Jon Stebbins’ well-received 2000 biography of the late Dennis Wilson. (Stebbins discusses the 1965 song “Do You Wanna Dance?” in Dillon’s book.) But it wasn’t until Dillon had written 40 or so chapters that ECW committed.

ECW publisher Jack David says the contractual details took some time to work out, but he was interested in the manuscript from the beginning because it wasn’t just another Beach Boys biography. “It was a different book and therefore appealing,” he says.

Co-publisher David Caron expects the U.S. will account for just over half of overall sales, consistent with other ECW titles. The initial print run is 5,000 copies, and customers who purchase the book will also receive a free ebook version by contacting ECW directly for a digital file in their preferred format.

The one factor Dillon and ECW have on their side is timing. To their knowledge, no other books about the Beach Boys will be released to coincide with their reunion tour, which kicked off April 24, and the band’s new album – the first Brian has been actively involved with in 35 years – is scheduled for release on June 5, four days after Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys hits bookstores.

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BookNet bestsellers: sports

As the National Hockey League playoffs get underway, this week’s bestsellers list is dominated by books about Canada’s favourite sport.

For the two weeks ending April 8:

1. The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods, Hank Haney
(Crown Publishing/Random House, $31 cl, 9780307985989)

2. Moe and Me, Lorne Rubenstein
(ECW Press, $19.95 pa, 9781770410534)

3. Anatomy of Muscle Building, Craig Ramsay
(Firefly Books, $24.95 pa, 9781554078165)

4. Playing with Fire, Theo Fleury with Kirstie McLellan Day
(HarperCollins Canada, $19.99 pa, 9781554682409)

5. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall
(Knopf Canada, $17.95 pa, 9780307279187)

6. The Game, Ken Dryden
(John Wiley & Sons Canada, $24.95 pa, 9780470835845)

7. Cornered, Ron MacLean with Kirstie McLellan Day
(HarperCollins Canada, $33.99 cl, 9781554689743)

8. Tough Guy, Bob Probert with Kirstie McLellan Day
(HarperCollins Canada, $19.99 pa, 9781443404624)

9. My Year of the Racehorse, Kevin Chong
(Greystone Books, $22.95 pa, 9781553655206)

10. NHL Records Forever
(Fenn/McClelland & Stewart, $32.99 pa, 9780771051036)

11. Moneyball (movie tie-in edition), Michael Lewis
(W.W. Norton & Company/Penguin, $18.50 pa, 9780393338393)

12. Survival Circle: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere, John Wiseman
(HarperCollins, $24.99 pa, 9780007274932)

13. The Final Call, Kerry Fraser
(Fenn/M&S, $21.99 pa, 9780771047985)

14. Moneyball, Michael Lewis
(W. W. Norton/Penguin, $18.50 pa, 9780393324815)

15. SAS Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure, John Wiseman
(HarperCollins, $19.95 pa, 9780756690380)

16. Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, Chris Jericho and Peter Thomas Fornatale
(Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, $8.99 mm, 9780446538169)

17. Baseball Prospectus 2012
(Wiley, $29.95 pa, 9780470622070)

18. The Beginning Runner’s Handbook, Ian MacNeill
(Greystone, $19.95 pa, 9781553658603)

19. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
(Anchor/Random House, $18.95 pa, 9780385494786)

20. Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories, Part 2, Don Cherry
(Doubleday Canada, $19.95 pa, 9780385670050)

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Bestsellers list: poetry

From Tupac Shakur to Don McKay, this week’s bestsellers list honours National Poetry Month. For the two weeks ending March 25:

1. The Iliad, Homer; Stephen Mitchell, trans.
(Simon & Schuster Canada, $35 cl, 9781439163375)

2. Rain; road; an open boat, Roo Borson
(McClelland & Stewart, $18.99 pa, 9780771012983)

3. Paradoxides, Don McKay
(M&S, $18.99 pa, 9780771055096)

4. The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, Pablo Neruda; Ilan Stavans, ed.
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux/D&M Publishers, $21.95 pa, 9780374529604)

5. Assiniboia, Tim Lilburn
(M&S, $18.99 pa, 9780771050084)

6. Whiteout, George Murray
(ECW Press, $18.95 pa, 9781770410879)

7. The Iliad, Homer; Robert Fagles, trans.
(Penguin, $18.50 pa, 9780140275360)

8. A Wild Peculiar Joy: The Selected Poems, Irving Layton
(M&S, $24.99 pa, 97807710494840)

9. Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems, Billy Collins
(Random House, $21 pa, 9780375755194)

10. The Rose That Grew from Concrete, Tupac Shakur
(MTV Books/Simon & Schuster, $18.99 pa, 9780671028459)

11. The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri; John Ciardi, trans.,
(Penguin, $25 pa, 9780451208637)

12. Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen
(M&S, $21 pa, 9780771022296)

13. The Pleasures of the Damned, 1951–1993, Charles Bukowski
(HarperCollins, $19.99 pa, 9780061228445)

14. Joy is So Exhausting, Susan Holbrook
(Coach House Books, $16.95 pa, 9781552452226)

15. Beowulf, Seamus Heaney, trans.
(W.W. Norton/Penguin, $16.50 pa, 9780393320978)

16. The Odyssey, Homer; Robert Fagles, trans.
(Penguin, $19.50 pa, 9780140268867)

17. 101 Famous Poems, Roy Cook, ed.
(McGraw-Hill Ryerson, $15.95 cl, 9780071419307)

18. Puffin Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, Raymond Briggs
(Penguin, $12 bb, 9780141337739)

19. The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri; Allen Mandelbaum, trans.
(Everyman’s Library/Random House, $32 cl, 9780679433132)

20. Metamorphoses, Ovid; Charles Martin, trans.
(W.W. Norton, $21 pa, 9780393326420)

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Spring preview 2012: Canadian non-fiction

In the January/February issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the spring season’s new books.

MEMOIR AND BIOGRAPHY

Revolutionary activity in the Middle East and North Africa has created an appetite for stories about life in these regions. Among them is the story of CBC News foreign correspondent Nahlah Ayed. In A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring (Penguin Canada, $32 cl., April), the Winnipeg-born journalist traces her passion for reporting on the Middle East to her Palestinian roots and the time she spent in a Jordanian refugee camp as a child. • When Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a Vancouver-raised beauty queen, first heard of Nazanin Fatehi, a teen on death row in Tehran for the murder of her would-be rapist, the two young women had only a name and their Iranian heritage in common. The Tale of Two Nazanins (HarperCollins Canada, $31.99 cl., May), co-written with Susan McClelland, is the story of how the women found common ground in the struggle for Fatehi’s freedom.

While on a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006, reservist Trevor Greene had an axe plunged into his skull and lived to tell the tale. Read it for yourself in March Forth: The Inspiring True Story of a Canadian Soldier’s Journey of Love, Hope and Survival (HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 cl., Feb.), co-written with his wife, Debbie Greene.

A pair of memoirs out this spring feature sons coming to terms with their late fathers’ true identities. Deni Béchard follows his fictitious family saga, Vandal Love, with a personal story. Cures for Hunger (Goose Lane Editions, $29.95 cl., May) finds the novelist dealing with the fallout from discovering his dad’s criminal past. • In Cold Comfort: Growing Up Cold War (Talonbooks, $18.95 pa., May), poet Gil McElroy writes about discovering his father’s hidden past working on the controversial Distant Early Warning Line.

In The Many Voyages of Arthur Wellington Clah: A Tsimshian Man on the Pacific Northwest Coast (UBC Press, $29.95 pa., Jan.), historian Peggy Brock creates a portrait of Arthur Wellington Clah, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee who left one of the few first-hand accounts of colonization in Western Canada written from an aboriginal perspective. • In 2008, the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria commissioned a chronicle of the globetrotting life and unconventional work of artist and printmaker Pat Martin Bates. The result is Balancing on a Thread (Frontenac House Media, $49.95 cl., April), a biography and critical analysis by Pat Bovey, former director of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Internationally renowned composer and music educator R. Murray Schafer recounts personal and artistic growth in My Life on Earth and Elsewhere (The Porcupine’s Quill, $27.95 pa., May), which follows his journey from aspiring painter to sailor to vagabond before deciding to dedicate his life to music. • As an octogenarian, Naomi Beth Wakan considers herself somewhere between old and “old-old,” and thus amply qualified to comment on retirement homes, elder abuse, death, and the disconnect between self-image and society’s perception of seniors. Liquorice and Lavender: Some Thoughts on Roller-coasting into Old Age (Wolsak & Wynn, $19 pa.) appears in April.

William Stevenson may be best known for his book A Man Called Intrepid, about the similarly named British spy William Stephenson, often considered the real-life model for James Bond. Stevenson tells his own life story, touching on his career as a war reporter, in Past to Present: A Reporter’s Story of War, Spies, People, and Politics (Lyons Press/Canadian Manda Group, $28.95 cl., June). • B.C. cowboy and rodeo regular Bruce Watt spins a few yarns about the good, the bad, and the ugly of ranching in Chilcotin Yarns (Heritage House, $16.95 pa., May).

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS

As the Canadian government works toward repatriating child soldier Omar Khadr, McGill-Queen’s University Press is set to publish a timely anthology exploring the Canadian-born man’s background, his incarceration at Guantanamo Bay, his treatment at the hands of Canadian authorities, and the implications raised by his legal case. Omar Khadr, Oh Canada ($24.95 pa., May), edited by Janice Williamson, includes contributions from Sherene Razack, Roméo Dallaire, Charles Foran, Judith Thompson, George Elliott Clarke, and Maher Arar.

Nora Young, host of CBC Radio’s Spark, explores issues such as the real-world impact of online communities and why it’s essential to ensure digital privacy in The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us (McClelland & Stewart, $29.99 cl., April). • Some form of monarchy has ruled Canada since the start of the nation’s recorded history. The Secret of the Crown: Canada’s Long Affair with Royalty (House of Anansi Press, $29.95 cl., March) by John Fraser is a witty look at our country’s enduring appetite for all things regal.

HISTORY

A number of titles this season take an unflinching look at Canada’s history of racism. In Orienting Canada: Race, Empire, and the Transpacific (UBC Press, $34.95 pa., Jan.), John Price, associate professor of history at the University of Victoria, exposes anti-Asian racism at home and in foreign policy through examples such as the 1907 Vancouver race riots and Canada’s early intervention in the Vietnam War. • Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: Two Centuries of Bondage (Véhicule Press, $27.95 pa., May), George Tombs’ English-language translation of the late Marcel Trudel’s groundbreaking work on the history of slavery in colonial Canada, identifies Canadian slave owners and reveals the extent to which national leaders tried to cover up this unsavoury past. • Bryan Prince looks at slavery in One More River to Cross (Dundurn Press, $24.99 pa., Jan.), which tells the real-life story of Isaac Brown, a slave who was falsely accused of murder and made a daring escape from New Orleans before coming to Canada.

Educator Paul Keery and illustrator Michael Wyatt borrow from the graphic novel tradition to make Canada’s military history accessible in Canada at War: An Illustrated History of Canada in the Second World War (Douglas & McIntyre, $24.95 pa., May). • Originally published in Italian in 2003, Pietro Corsi’s Halifax: The Other Door to America (Guernica Editions, $15 pa., March), translated by Antonio D’Alfonso, explores the city’s role in the immigrant experience through a first-hand account.

POP CULTURE

In The Weakerthans: Watermark ($12.95 pa., April), the second instalment in Invisible Publishing’s Bibliophonic music series, author Dave Jaffer makes the case that the Winnipeg indie rockers are among the country’s best musical acts.

SPORTS

Hockey-shmockey. This season’s ice sport of choice is Arctic aviation. Based on the Canadian TV series of the same name, The Ice Pilots: Flying with the Mavericks of the Great White North (Douglas & McIntyre, $21.95 pa., Jan.), by Survivorman series co-author Michael Vlessides, follows pilots at Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife as they haul supplies and passengers in their Second World War–era propeller planes to remote Arctic outposts. • Frontenac House Media is set to publish Yukon Wings ($59.95 cl., May), an illustrated history of the territory’s aviation sector by industry veteran Bob Cameron.

Much has been written about Leanne Shapton’s quirky style and seemingly charmed career. Swimming Studies (Penguin Canada, $26.50 cl., June) dives into new territory: the illustrator’s lifelong passion for swimming, and her former dream of making it to the Olympics. • Speaking of the Olympics, a former athlete and coach have authored a pair of books on leadership. In The Power of More: Achieving Your Goals in Sport and Life (Greystone Books, $22.95 pa., May), three-time Olympic gold-medal rower Marnie McBean explains how to break down big tasks, set goals, strive for more, and recognize success. • In Leave No Doubt: A Credo for Changing Your Dreams (McGill-Queen’s University Press, $19.95 cl., March), NHL coach Mike Babstock (with co-writer Rick Larsen) expands on a pep talk originally intended for Team Canada, whom he coached at the 2010 Winter Games. • Start your own journey from novice to Olympian with Paddle Your Own Kayak (Boston Mills Press/Firefly Books, $29.95 pa., March), a fully illustrated guide by longtime paddlers Gary and Joanie McGuffin.

Vancouver writer Kevin Chong recounts how he unexpectedly found a new life direction as part-owner of a horse in My Year of the Racehorse: Falling in Love With the Sport of Kings (Greystone, $22.95 pa., April), a look into the tradition and faded elegance of the horse-racing scene.

GARDENING

When friends Rachel Fisher, Heather Stretch, and Robin Tunnicliffe ventured into business together they came up with Saanich Organics, a co-operative of small organic farms around greater Victoria. They’ve teamed up again for All the Dirt: Reflections on Organic Farming (TouchWood Editions, $29.95 pa., Feb.), in part a personal reflection on food entrepreneurship, in part a how-to for small-scale organic farming. • Get growing with Canadian Gardener’s Guide (Dorling Kindersley/Tourmaline Editions, $30 cl., March), an illustrated handbook by prolific food writer and urban gardening guru Lorraine Johnson.

FOOD AND DRINK

In 2009, Lynn Crawford resigned as executive chef at Four Seasons New York to launch a restaurant in Toronto and kick off a new travel series for Canada’s Food Network. The spin-off book, Lynn Crawford’s Pitchin’ In: 100 Great Recipes from Simple Ingredients (Penguin Canada, $37 cl., Jan.), includes recipes the chef acquired in her travels across North America. • While Crawford peddles local foods, University of Toronto geography professor Pierre Desrochers and economist Hiroko Shimizu suggest a different approach in The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet (Public Affairs/Perseus Books Group, $30 cl., June). The duo argues the locavore ethos is little more than a well-meaning marketing strategy that distracts from global food problems.

A perfect counterpoint to last season’s roster of meat-heavy cookbooks, Eleanor Boyle’s High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat (New Society Publishers, $17.95 pa., June) investigates the ecological, health, and social problems caused by conventional meat production, and offers guidance on supporting sustainable livestock practices. • University of Toronto Press’s Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History ($34.95 pa., May), edited by Franca Iacovetta, Valerie J. Korinek, and Marlene Epp, is a rare scholarly examination of food culture and traditions from a Canadian point of view. • For nearly three decades, Toronto’s FoodShare has fought to make healthy eating possible for everyone. Share: Delicious Dishes from FoodShare and Friends (Between the Lines, $24.95 pa., May), by Adrienne De Francesco with Marion Kane, brings together favourite recipes from the FoodShare community that emphasize healthy, affordable, culturally diverse, and seasonal meals.

BUSINESS, FINANCE, AND ECONOMICS

Economist Jeff Rubin follows up his bestselling Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller with The End of Growth (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., May). This time, Rubin posits that the tendency for governments to tie economic well-being to population growth will ultimately lead to disaster. • Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty tread similar territory but offer a solutions-based approach in The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-state Economy (New Society, $26.95 pa., June), about shifting from growth to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

Rob Carrick, a columnist at The Globe and Mail, has written a personal finance guide for the Boomerang Generation. How Not to Move Back in with Your Parents: The Young Person’s Guide to Financial Empowerment (Doubleday Canada, $22.95 pa.) comes out in March, just in time for the end of the academic year. • Toronto ad man Rick Padulo – the brains behind the slogans “Leon’s Don’t Pay a Cent Event” and “Black’s Is Photography” – shares the story of his climb up the agency ladder, and spills a few trade secrets, in I Can Get It for You Retail: Down and Dirty Tales from a Canadian Ad Man (Dundurn, $29.99 cl., March).

HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

It seems a new health and fitness fad springs up every week. Timothy Caulfield, director at the Health Law and Science Policy Group at the University of Alberta, has tried some of them so the rest of us don’t have to. Through first-hand research and analysis, Caulfield’s The Cure for Everything! Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness, and Happiness (Penguin, $32 cl., Jan.) exposes the special interests behind many scientific claims in the health industries, and suggests getting healthy is not as complicated as it seems. • In Thinking Women and Health Care Reform in Canada (Canadian Scholars’ Press, $39.95 pa., Feb.), the Women and Health Care Reform working group sets out its argument for why changes to Canada’s health care sector are women’s issues. Researchers raise the issue of gender in such areas as privatization, home care, medical insurance, access to treatment, and maternity care. • When a group of women in Parry Sound, Ontario, decided to raise money for a new mammogram machine at their local hospital, they opted for a fundraising project that was fun, creative, and cheeky. Compiled by the West Parry Sound Health Foundation, Support the Girls: Bra Art for Breast Health (Second Story Press, $21.95 pa., April) features the personal stories and bra-based artwork of breast cancer sufferers and survivors, their loved ones, and health-care workers. A portion of proceeds will go to breast cancer research.

Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Nancy Reeves has travelled throughout North America facilitating workshops on grief, trauma, spirituality, and art therapy. A Path Through Loss: A Guide to Writing Your Healing and Growth (Woodlake Books, $19.95 pa., Feb.) contains self-guided journalling exercises Reeves has employed and honed over the years.

ENVIRONMENT

David Suzuki is back with another collection of thoughts on the environment. The aptly titled Everything Under the Sun: Toward a Brighter Future on a Small Blue Planet (Greystone, $24.95 pa., June), co-written with Ian Hannington, broaches topics such as solar-energy dependence, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the difference between human hunters and other predators. • Documentarian Amy Miller investigates the effects of carbon-emissions trading and carbon credit–funded projects in Carbon Rush (Red Deer Press, $24.95 pa., June), a scathing exposé of a system that bankrolls large-scale industrial operations and endangers all manner of life.

Cameron Dueck’s The New Northwest Passage: A Voyage to the Front Lines of Climate Change (Great Plains Publications, $24.95 pa., April) recalls the journalist’s trip through one of the least accessible places on the planet to encounter the effects of climate change on Arctic life. • In Save the Humans (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., April), Rob Stewart, the filmmaker behind Sharkwater, turns his attention from marine life to the human cost of environmental carelessness. • Couched in tales of hard-living fishermen and the history of the West Coast fishing industry, Bluebacks and Silver Brights: A Lifetime in the B.C. Fisheries from Bounty to Plunder (ECW Press, $22.95 pa., May), by Norman and Allan Safarik, presents a dire ecological outlook for the Pacific Coast thanks to government mismanagement and overfishing. • In Nevermore: A Book of Hours ($20 pa., April), the third title published by Quattro Books’ non-fiction imprint, Fourfront Editions, David Day elegizes species that are long extinct, with illustrations by Maurice Wilson.

SCIENCE

Carolyn Abraham travels around the world, DNA kits at the ready, to probe the genetic background of her spotty family tree. Along the way, she struggles with the ethics behind using genetic tests to trace bloodlines. The Juggler’s Children: Family, Myth and a Tale of Two Chromosomes (Random House Canada, $32 cl.) lands on bookshelves in April. • In developing neurological exercises to overcome her own severe learning disabilities, Barbara Arrowsmith Young pioneered a cognitive training program that demonstrated the possibility for neuroplasticity – the notion that behaviour and training can alter brain function. The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: Stories of Transformation from the Frontier of Brain Science (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, $29.99 cl., May) recounts Arrowsmith’s story and sets out her methodology.

ESSAYS

Author and writing teacher Douglas Glover shares the finer points of the writing life, as well as a few exercises to get scribbling, in The Attack of the Copula Spiders and Other Essays on Writing (Biblioasis, $21.95 pa., April). • Thirty-three writers with ties to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, including Michael Turner, Madeleine Thien, and Wayde Compton, recast the maligned neighbourhood as a hub of creativity and humanity in V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95 pa., April), edited by Elee Kraljii Gardiner and John Mikhail Asfour. • Edited by Kathy Page and Lynne Van Luven, In the Flesh: Twenty Writers Explore the Body (Brindle & Glass, $24.95 pa., April) contains essays by André Alexis, Trevor Cole, Lorna Crozier, Candace Fertile, Kate Pullinger, and Brian Brett that explore aging, illness, and insecurity through a specific body part.

FINE ART AND GRAPHICA

Canadian cities provide a rich source of inspiration for a number of fine art and non-fiction graphica titles this season. Dave Lapp combines new and previously published comics about encounters and conversations on the streets of Toronto in People Around Here (Conundrum Press, $17 pa., April), a follow-up to 2008’s Drop-in. • Toronto streets are brought to the fore in Full Frontal T.O. (Coach House Books, $24.95 pa., May), a chronicle of the Big Smoke’s ever-changing streetscapes by photographer Patrick Cummins and Stroll author Shawn Micallef. • Meanwhile, illustrator Michael Cho wanders Toronto’s backstreets for Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 pa., May), a collection of vibrant illustrations of the city’s hidden streetscapes.

Heading West, Michael Kluckner’s Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 20 Years (Whitecap Books, $35 pa., April) updates the artist’s classic book of the same name two decades after its initial release. The new edition documents the city’s rapid development and features more than 200 images, including the author’s own watercolours and brush-and-ink drawings. • Rocky Mountain Books celebrates 100 years of the Calgary Stampede with Cowboy Wild ($39.95 cl., May), a photo book by David Campion chronicling a decade of the greatest show on earth, with text by Samantha Shields.

The latest from D&Q’s Petit Livre art book imprint is Idyll: Dream-filled Landscapes, Portraits, and Abstracts in Beautiful Detail ($19.95 cl., March) by Amber Albrecht. Inspired by the dreaminess of childhood, Albrecht’s paintings, screen prints, and drawings employ folklore and female iconography to address loneliness and loss.

HUMOUR

Just in time for summer break, Thomas Allen Publishers will release Almost There: The Family Vacation Then and Now ($24.95 pa., May), Curtis Gillespie’s take on family travel. • A “good mommy” is as real as a unicorn or Bigfoot, argues Willow Yamauchi in Bad Mommy (Insomniac Press, $19.95 pa., April), which celebrates the kind of parenting that falls somewhere between Joan Crawford and June Cleaver.

RELIGION

Conservative commentator and Sun News Network host Michael Coren’s latest book, Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity (Signal/M&S, $29.99 cl., April) picks up where 2011’s Why Catholics Are Right left off, challenging popular assumptions about Christianity regarding issues such as homophobia, sexism, and racism. • To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, in which the Roman Catholic Church updated its practices for an increasingly secular world, Novalis will publish Vatican II: Fifty Years of Evolution and Revolution in the Catholic Church ($18.95 pa., May) by Margaret Lavin, associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Regis College.

The fine print: Q&Q’s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2012. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.

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Event photos: Evan Munday’s The Dead Kid Detective Agency launch

On Sept. 29, Evan Munday launched his first YA novel, The Dead Kid Detective Agency (ECW Press), at No One Writes to the Colonel in Toronto.

Munday, who was soliciting “deadly”-titled songs on Twitter for the event’s playlist, was interviewed on stage by CBC Books’ Erin Balser.

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Book Pictures

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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