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Anansi puts Rob Ford on a streetcar

When House of Anansi Press was strategizing its marketing campaign for The Little Book of Rob Ford, a collection of “quips, quotes, and colourful comments” from Toronto’s mayor, it took a more subtle approach than NOW Magazine’s controversial nudie cover. They put Ford on the side of a streetcar.

Anansi’s director of publicity Laura Repas says the idea originated with one of Ford’s own quotes: “If you get stuck behind a streetcar you’re stuck! Enough with the streetcars!” Originally Anansi wanted to do a vinyl advertising wrap that would cover the entire car, but with a price tag of more than $20,000, the bold idea was cost-prohibitive. Repas says that poster ad on the side of the TTC streetcar was “an amazing deal,” especially considering the “happy accident” timing of Ford’s new transit plan announced on Thursday.

The book, conceived a day after Ford was elected and released on Feb. 16, does not have a huge marketing budget outside of the streetcar ad, which runs on the Queen Street line: “It goes by City Hall and it’s such a great, long route,” says Repas. Anansi also organized direct outreach to unconventional bookretailers like bike stores and “edgy, fun giftshops,” and set up a Tumblr page to promote the book. Anansi’s Twitter and Facebook followers are encouraged to send in their photos of the TTC ad for a chance to win a package of spring 2011 titles.

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Kim Echlin wins Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Toronto writer Kim Echlin took home the big prize yesterday at the Barnes & Noble 2010 Discover Awards. The U.S. chain named Echlin winner of the fiction category for her third novel, The Disappeared (first published by Hamish Hamilton Canada in 2009), which follows the love story between a Canadian woman and a Cambodian man during the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge.

A jury made up of authors Peter Cameron, John Dalton, and Zoë Ferraris said in a press release, “The Disappeared is a powerful and affecting novel, one that’s willing to consider the greatest devotion and the most terrible cruelty.”

In the non-fiction category, David R. Dow, a lawyer and founder of the Texas Innoncence Network, won for The Autobiography of an Execution. The winners received $10,000 plus a year’s worth of marketing and merchandising support from Barnes & Noble.

Second prizes of $5,000 went to Eric Puchner for his novel Model Home and Rebecca Skloot for her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Nic Pizzolatto’s debut novel Galveston, and Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, received third place honours and $2,500 each.

The Discover Awards honour “exceptionally talented writers” from B&N’s Discover Great New Writers program.  The 2010 winners were chosen from a pool of 60 “previously unknown fiction and non-fiction writers.”

The awards were presented during a private ceremony in New York.

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Awards presented to Shapcott, Walcott, and book apps

There’s been a flurry of book award activity over the past few days (take that, Academy Awards). The awards in this roundup range from the time-honoured and prestigious to the trendy and cutting edge.

Costa Book of the Year Award
Costa Book Awards named Jo Shapcott’s poetry collection Of Mutability (Faber & Faber) its Book of the Year. The U.K. award culls its shortlist from winners across five categories: first novel, novel, biography, poetry, and children’s book. The 2010 shortlist also featured Witness the Night, a first novel by Kishwar Desai; The Hand That First Held Mine, a novel by Maggie O’Farrel; The Hare with Amber Eyes, a memoir by Edmund de Waal; and Out of Shadows, a children’s book by first-time author Jason Wallace. Shapcott receives £25,000; the winner in each category receives £5,000.

T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry
Also based out of the U.K., the Poetry Book Society awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize to Derek Walcott for White Egrets (Faber & Faber). Walcott, 81, is a Nobel laureate and currently serves as distinguished scholar in residence at the University of Alberta.

The £15,000 prize is given annually to the author of the best new poetry collection published in the U.K. or Ireland. Anne Stevenson, chair of the judging panel, described Walcott’s collection as a “moving, risk-taking and technically flawless book by a great poet.” Also included on the shortlist were Sam Willetts, Seamus Heaney, and Pascal Petit.

Publishing Innovation Awards
Digital Book World opened last night in New York City by handing out the first-ever Publishing Innovation Awards for e-books and apps. The winners are selected based on “their merits in the areas of origination, development, production, design, and marketing.”

The inaugural winners are:

Fiction:  DRACULA: The Official Stoker Family Edition (PadWorx Digital Media)
Non-fiction: Logos Bible Software (Logos Bible Software)
Children’s:  A Story Before Bed (Jackson Fish Market)
Reference:  Star Walk for iPad (Vito Technology)
Comics: Robot 13 (Robot Comics)

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Daily book biz round-up: new Oprah pick coming; money for Ontario textbooks?; and more

Today’s book news:


California group to Apple: you lie!

Consumers in California have banded together to sue Apple for its claim that reading an iPad is just like reading a book. More at ebooknewser:

“Indeed, according to the website, ‘[r]eading on iPad is just like reading a book.’ However, contrary to this promise, using the iPad is not ‘just like reading a book’ at all since books do not close when the reader is enjoying them in the sunlight or in other normal environmental environments. This promise, like other portions of Apple’s marketing material for the iPad, is false.”

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Why social media does/doesn’t matter and why you should/shouldn’t just shut up about it already

  • Journalist Dave Obee uses author Dave Bidini as an example of why artists shouldn’t quit Facebook
  • Author Maureen Johnson’s hilarious rant on the tedium of social media marketing: I Am Not A Brand
  • A marketing specialist discovers that all the time you spend hawking your work via social media is not paying off in sales at all
  • and because it is Friday … a little something special

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UPDATED: David Davidar to leave Penguin

Penguin Canada president David Davidar – who took over the firm in fall 2003 and has been widely credited with returning it to good health – will soon be leaving the company and returning to India, his homeland.

[UPDATE] According to Penguin Canada director of marketing and publicity Yvonne Hunter, Davidar will not be continuing on with Penguin India, either. He is leaving the company altogether to pursue his writing career and other projects.

John Makinson, the U.K.-based chairman and CEO of Penguin Group, flew in to Toronto yesterday to join Davidar in conveying the news to staff and to explain how the company will be structured going forward.

Once Davidar leaves – which is likely to happen in July – staff will begin reporting to Penguin U.S. CEO David Shanks. According to Hunter, this is a permanent arrangement and Davidar will not be replaced. The most senior figure at Penguin Canada will now be publisher Nicole Winstanley, who is going on maternity leave in August. Ivan Held, publisher of Putnam U.S., will oversee the publishing program in Winstanley’s absence, and Nick Garrison, formerly of Doubleday Canada, will be handling the editing on several of her titles. Both Shank and Held will be flying to the Toronto offices next week to meet with staff and hammer out more of the arrangements.

When asked if the new reporting structure might mean changes to the Canadian publishing program, Hunter was emphatic: “Absolutely not. We have a really dynamic publishing program … that we absolutely intend to sustain.” Meanwhile, Winstanley stated in a press release that “the Canadian division will continue to publish robustly…. The new imprints that we have launched (Hamish Hamilton Canada in 2009 and Allen Lane Canada this year) reiterate our commitment to publish the best writers in Canada and abroad … and that is the direction we’ll continue in.”

Penguin Canada will continue to ship all lines from the Pearson Canada distribution centre in Newmarket, Ontario.

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The changing face of DIY

In a recent column in The Globe and Mail, Russell Smith makes an excellent case for dismantling the stereotype of traditional publishers as obstinate elitists resistant to change:

Of course, everyone wants to get into selling e-books. No one is resisting this idea. The problem is that not everyone wants to buy them yet. Furthermore, no one has yet agreed on who will be in control of these sales, and in particular of how much each of these books is going to cost. Both the publishers and the booksellers want to set the prices, and the booksellers will want to set the prices much lower than the publishers will.

Smith goes on to discuss how e-books are helping change the face of self-publishing; he thinks that, in the age of PayPal, vanity presses may not be considered inferior to traditional publishing, despite continued lack of support from arts councils and awards juries:

Some of the most popular writers on the Internet are unpaid and unpublished in print. Furthermore, even successful published authors are beginning to experiment with putting their own works up for sale online. In this case, it’s not a lack of renown that causes authors to self-publish, but the opposite: If an author is a really big name, she knows she already has the following to generate sales without the help of a publisher’s marketing and sales departments.

The National Post examined the phenomenon of DIY publishing in a recent article:

It’s a curiosity of modern culture that an indie CD or film is cool, while a self-published book still carries a whiff of stigma. Don’t believe it? Just try to get your indie book reviewed in most publications that habitually fawn over indie music and film.


The book industry: this week in quotes

“We’ve had the ‘woe is me, alas’ memoir, the ‘feeling orgasmic over the touch of linen on my toes alone in bed in Italy on Tuesday’ memoir, the ‘Thank Christ she wasn’t my mother’ memoir, the ‘I got rid of my husband and everything makes sense’ memoir, and now, in the case of Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story, we arrive at the “nothing in particular, on me holidays with me mum, we might be having a crisis but you’ll need a magnifying glass to find it” memoir. Publishers trot this tripe out because of the chance it might be lifted by the winds of marketing and carried to every middle-class dinner table.” – Anakana Schofield, from The Globe and Mail‘s Daily Review for Jan. 12

“A new independent study, conducted by the online monitoring and enforcement service Attributor, found that ‘nine million illegal downloads of copyright-protected books were documented during the closing months of 2009,’ according to the [Association of American Publisher's] release….Indeed, those are staggering numbers – and something that must be contended with. And yet they’re kind of perversely encouraging in a way: That many people want to read that many books, and are willing to steal to do so…. At least that goes against the ‘nobody reads anymore’ and ‘it’s the death of publishing’ story we’ve been hearing so much of. And that glass of rare Chateau Lafite 1787 is half full.“  - Mobylives

“How surreally wonderful to discover that an entire exhibition devoted to the ‘works’ of David Foster Wallace’s fictional creation James Incandenza is set to open later this month. A cult filmmaker, Incandenza is the star of Wallace’s seminal novel Infinite Jest… As was his wont, Wallace included a footnote in the novel about the filmography of Incandenza, and now using the author’s ‘detailed list of over 70 industrial, documentary, conceptual, advertorial, technical, parodic, dramatic non-commercial, and non-dramatic commercial works’, Columbia University’s Neiman Centre has commissioned artists and filmmakers to make the movies.”- The Guardian

“Three weeks after Highsmith’s arrival, a new resident appeared at Yaddo: Flannery O’Connor. Does your imagination not crackle at the idea of Highsmith and O’Connor living under the same set of roofs? As Highsmith drafted Strangers on a Train, O’Connor worked on Wise Blood…. Highsmith did not think much of O’Connor, who was disinclined to join the other colonists on their treks to the taverns of Saratoga Springs” – The New Yorker

January is SUAWOYN month … according to Colson Whitehead.

“Canada’s literary scene does not financially support more than a handful of authors, so don’t limit your work to Canada if your goal is to make a living as a novelist. You will either starve or die of frustration. It’s hard enough trying to make it as a writer without adding obstacles in your path.” – author Jeffrey Round on Open Book Toronto


Vancouver librarians told to cover up non-Olympic logos

According to CTV, librarians in Vancouver have been warned by city officials to use only approved Olympic sponsors in any Games-themed events they host next month, and to conceal the logos of any non-Olympic companies that may pass in front of patrons’ eyeballs.

The memo, written by marketing and communications manager Jean Kavanagh, tells staff to avoid such companies as Pepsi or Dairy Queen – neither of which is an official sponsor, unlike, say Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. And she suggests taking unusual steps to avoid displaying the logos of non-sponsors, writing: “If you have a speaker/guest who happens to work for Telus, ensure he/she is not wearing their Telus jacket, as Bell is the official sponsor.”

She also writes that any rented sound equipment have its brand name covered by cloth or tape – if it’s not a machine from sponsor Panasonic.

Though Kavanagh goes on to say that her list of Olympic dos and don’ts doesn’t constitute censorship, Alex Youngberg, president of the local library union, disagrees:

“There’s something in my library to offend everybody,” [Youngberg] said. “And that’s our job. Our job as library staff is to not ever censor any information.”

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Book Pictures

Do you have great photos from a recent book event in Canada that you'd like to share with us? Submit them to the Quill & Quire Flickr pool and they'll show up here.

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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