Monthly Archives: September 2018

Canadian Publishing in 2018

25 September 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

One of the great pleasures of being a journalist from the United States browsing in a Canadian bookstore—be it Type Books in Toronto, McNally Robinson in Winnipeg, or maybe Woozles in Halifax—is the realization that there are so many new books in English that I’ve never seen before and that I must read now.

Books this fall that are all likely to prove more popular above the 49th parallel than below it include DK’s recently updated Our Great Prime Ministers, about Canada’s past leaders; Fernwood Publishing’s Viola Desmond: Her Life and Times by Graham Reynolds, about the Nova Scotia civil rights activist who adorns Canada’s new C$10 banknote; Dundurn’s Riding into Battle: Canadian Cyclists in the Great War by Ted Glenn; Portage and Main’s series of indigenous YA supernatural thrillers by David Robertson; and S&S Canada’s gossipy literary memoir In Other Words: How I Fell in Love with Canada One Book at a Time, by former publisher Anna Porter.

. . . .

“Sometimes, we fear the rest of the world thinks of us as a giant Idaho,” says Leo MacDonald, senior v-p of sales and marketing at HarperCollins Canada. “As a company, we push back on that perception. Just look at a book like Forgiveness, the memoir by Mark Sakamoto that won the 2018 Canada Reads contest. That book is a very Canadian story—but, as it involves his family’s experience during World War II, is very relatable. And the theme of forgiveness is, well, universal. And it is about a family divided, which makes it very timely.”

. . . .

Earlier this year BookNet, the Canadian organization that compiles sales and other data about Canadian publishing, conducted a survey on reading habits and found that 81% of people responding had read or listened to a book in the last year, with 33.5% saying their reading or listening had increased over the previous year. What has sparked a change? It is likely the combination of several factors, including a boom in locally produced audiobooks and the popularity of homegrown international bestselling authors such as pop poet Rupi Kaur, controversial self-help polemicist Jordan Peterson, and literary icons Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje—and even an increased awareness of the availability of free-to-read material from libraries. To wit: half of Canadians have checked an item out of a library in the past year, and the Toronto Public Library, which is one of the largest library systems in the world, saw 3.7 million e-book loans, nearly one million audiobook loans, and nearly 25 million print-book loans last year. When it comes to print books, that is nearly five books loaned for each resident of Toronto, a city the same size as Chicago. And that is good for authors; Canada has a program, the Public Lending Right, which compensates writers for these library loans (alas, not publishers).

Overall, Canada’s publishing market is the 12th largest in the world and is valued at approximately $2.1 billion, according to the latest statistics released by BookMap. It’s a strong showing for a nation of 37 million people that, in effect, represents two wholly separate publishing industries: one in English and one in French.

. . . .

Sales Are Steady-ish

In 2017, sales of print books in Canada fell 4%, compared to 2016, according to BookNet. “But, when you include e-books, sales have been generally flat for the last seven years,” said Noah Genner, CEO of BookNet, during a presentation on the industry at the organization’s annual TechForum event. In total, the Canadian book industry sold approximately 51.5 million copies in 2017. The organization tracked some 700,000 ISBNs in 2017 and saw, as had been the trend in previous years, more books being published but each title selling in fewer quantities. In 2017, 60% of all print book sales were for backlist books, which was up 2% over 2016, BookNet reported.

The generally flat sales trend is one of the reasons so many publishers have poured resources into pushing harder and harder into the American book market. Those who attend industry events in the U.S. (such as Winter Institute, the American Library Association annual meeting, or BookExpo) have noticed more booths from Canadian publishers, be they Second Story Press or Coach House Books from Toronto, Talon Books or Arsenal Pulp from Vancouver, or Biblioasis from Windsor. For many publishers, U.S. sales can account for as much as 50% of sales, and for many children’s publishers, it is even more. Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press credits the U.S. with 55% of its annual sales, while at Groundwood Books the U.S. amounts to 65% of sales. In all, export sales accounted for 19% of the overall book market in 2016, rising 11.8% for the year to C$260.5 million, according to Statistics Canada. This success is enabled in part by Livre Canada Books, the organization responsible for promoting export and rights sales abroad.

. . . .

The ACP reported in a press release in 2017 that “books imported to Canada from the U.S. contribute to a trade deficit with the U.S. book industry of approximately C$375 million each year.” It went on to state, “Without the government programs and policies the cultural exception makes possible, this deficit would grow and limit the domestic industry’s capacity to publish new Canadian-authored books and educational resources.”

What’s more, it’s not just Canadian publishers who need be concerned about the relationship between Canada and the U.S. Some 245 publishing companies are Canadian-owned, but several of the 15 conglomerate publishers in the country are not. In fact, the foreign-controlled companies accounted for 53.8% of revenue in 2016, while 46.2% was generated by Canadian-controlled firms. All this means that Germany’s Bertelsmann, which owns Penguin Random House Canada, as well as U.S.-owned HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster (both of which have large Canadian operations), are paying attention to what happens in Washington and Ottawa.

But if there is one company that needs to keep an eye on the relationship between Trump and Trudeau, it is Indigo. The dominant Canadian bricks-and-mortar retailer is opening its first store in the U.S. in New Jersey later this year, and it has expressed ambitions to open three to five more in the near term. The company has also been rumored to be a possible buyer for beleaguered Barnes & Noble, something that the company will not address.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG notes the OP manages to touch on just about everything relevant to understanding the Canadian book market except


25 September 2018

Originality is undetected plagiarism.

~ William Ralph Inge

This Is What Being an Elementary School Librarian Means to Me Today

25 September 2018

From Brightly:

In one way or another, I have worked in the world of kids’ books for more than two decades now — yet, it wasn’t until I began my job as a librarian four years ago that I truly realized how much books connect and create community. As an elementary school librarian, I am the one person on campus who interacts with every student in every class on a weekly — and for many, daily — basis. My hours are spent cultivating connections with my 600 students, learning their reading levels and interests, putting the right book in their hands and creating a warm, welcoming, and, yes, noisy space where they feel safe and know they belong.

Children’s books and literacy are my passions and I am grateful for every day that I get to share this love with kids. I could spend my days tracking down lost books, collecting fines, running reports, and teaching the Dewey Decimal System, but that would drastically cut into the time I have to share my love for books and the marvels of reading, see the excitement in the faces of my students when I describe a book I just read, and show them the next, newest book in a series they are reading.

Less than half of the third, fourth, and fifth graders at my school are reading at grade level, and working with kids who struggle with reading was a new experience for me when I became a librarian. During my many years as a children’s bookseller, I found myself interacting most often with kids (and adults) who were book lovers and only occasionally encountering reluctant readers. On a more personal level, growing up in a house filled with books, my three kids naturally gravitated towards them and had little choice but to become readers.

I have learned a lot from engaging with students who struggle to learn read. From the hurdles English language learners face to the dynamics of language acquisition and building vocabulary, I am experiencing kids’ books — and kids themselves — in a whole new way. Where I used to read every new kids’ book that caught my eye, both for review on my website and to share with customers, I’ve found that many new releases are not accessible to my students. I now work to bring high interest, low-level books, especially with diverse characters and authors, to the shelves of my library. Now I spend my days helping students find books, listening to them tell me about the books they are reading, and reading the mini-book reports I reward (bribe) students for writing.

Link to the rest at Brightly

PG says the author sounds like a terrific librarian.

Who Owns Graffiti?

25 September 2018

From ArtNet:

The Swiss street artist Adrian Falkner, also known as Smash 137, will have his day in court with General Motors. A federal judge in Los Angeles has rejected GM’s attempt to dismiss the artist’s claim that the automaker infringed on his copyright when it included a photo of one of his murals in its 2016 Cadillac ad campaign.

Falkner’s attorney, Jeff Gluck, told the Detroit Free Press that the move was “a massive victory for artists’ rights.” A ruling in the artist’s favor could set a precedent for future lawsuits in connection with the unauthorized reproduction of graffiti art.

A photo featuring Falkner’s 2014 mural on a Detroit building facade was promoted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in GM’s “The Art of the Drive” social media campaign. Even though it was not part of GM’s larger advertising strategy for the Cadillac XT5, Falkner argued in his complaint that the image was likely seen by millions of people and “damages his reputation, especially because he has carefully and selectively approached any association with corporate culture and mass-market consumerism.”

. . . .

GM had argued that its use of Falkner’s mural was legal because copyright law allows photographic depictions of architectural works. “This right to photograph an architectural work extends to those portions of the work containing pictorial, graphic, or sculptural elements,” the company argued in a July legal filing. “Because [Falkner’s] mural is painted onto an architectural work, it falls squarely within the ‘pictorial representation’ exemption, and his copyright infringement claim should be dismissed.”

The judge looked at a similar case in which artist Andrew Leicester sued Warner Brothers for filming the courtyard of a building that housed his sculptural work, which appeared in Batman Forever. That case was decided in favor of Warner Brothers because Leicester’s work was designed in tandem with the rest of the structure, and were thus considered part of the architectural design.

. . . .

“Graffiti artists often aggregate their work on public and private property,” says Sam P. Israel, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law but is not involved in this case. “If GM loses the trial and the plaintiff’s graffiti is deemed to have a copyrightable identity separate from the architectural configuration, it boggles the mind to think of the licensing costs for depicting architecture that’s been enhanced by multiple artists.”

Link to the rest at ArtNet

If the preliminary holding in this case holds, PG wonders how difficult it might become to photograph a city street or any group of buildings in an area with a lot of graffiti and publish that photograph or post it online.

4 Ways Busy People Sabotage Themselves

25 September 2018

From The Harvard Business Review:

You’ve left an important task undone for weeks. It’s hanging over you, causing daily anxiety. And yet instead of actually doing it, you do a hundred other tasks instead.

Or you’ve been feeling guilty about not replying to an email, even though replying would only take 10 minutes.

Or maybe the last time you needed stamps, you went to the post office to buy a single stamp because you couldn’t find the 100-pack you purchased a few months ago. You know it’s around… somewhere. But you just don’t have the time to clean your desk to find it.

. . . .

1. You keep ploughing away without stepping back and prioritizing.

When we’re busy and stressed, we often default to working on whatever has the most imminent deadline, even if it’s not particularly important. Stress causes our focus to narrow to the point where we’re just keeping going, like a hamster on a wheel. We respond to emails and go through the motions of getting things done, without actually stepping back and considering what’s most important to work on. You might find yourself spending several hours on a task that wasn’t that important to begin with, even though you have a mountain of other things to be doing.

The solution is to step back and work on tasks that are important but not urgent. Use the “pay yourself first” principle to do items that are on your priority list first, before you jump to responding to other people’s needs. You might not be able to follow this principle every day, but aim to follow it for several days of the week.

. . . .

4. You use avoid or escape methods for coping with anxiety.

People who are overloaded will have a strong impulse to avoid or escape anxiety. Avoidance could be putting off a discussion with your boss or avoiding telling a friend you can’t make it to her wedding. Escape could be rushing into an important decision, because you want to escape needing to think about it further. This can lead to a pattern of excessively delaying some decisions and making others impulsively. Avoidance and escape can also take other forms — an extra glass of wine (or three) after work, binge-watching TV, or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. It might even be ticking less-important things off your to-do list to avoid the urgent task that’s making you anxious.

If you want to deal constructively with situations that trigger anxiety for you, you’ll need to engineer some flexibility and space into your life so that you can work through your emotions and thoughts when your anxiety is set off. With practice, you’ll start to notice when you’re just doing something to avoid doing something else.

Link to the rest at The Harvard Business Review

Clicktivism is taking over the Canadian copyright debate

24 September 2018

From Hugh Stephens Blog:

How a supposed grass-roots movement has used the latest technology to give the impression of huge local groundswells of public opinion against protections for intellectual property.

Open Media is at it again. This Vancouver-based self-described advocate of Internet freedom, an organization that claims to believe in “participatory democracy” and “freedom of expression,” has been busy manipulating public opinion and trying to influence lawmakers in various countries, including Canada, with spurious astroturfing campaigns against copyright protection.

It has been caught red-handed more than once engaging in these activities and is unapologetic, even bragging about its successes on its website using euphemisms such as “crowdsourcing” and the “engagement pyramid” to justify its actions.

What is astroturfing? This is now the term of choice to describe the use of technology to create the pretence of widespread public support, or protest. It is usually used in the negative sense, to create the impression of a “groundswell” of public opinion against a particular measure that is under public discussion.

. . . .

Open Media is part owner of, a for-hire entity which facilitates and mounts large-scale online campaigns designed to give the impression to the target audience (e.g., Members of the European Parliament [MEPs]; Canada’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology which is reviewing Canada’s copyright laws; Members of the US Congress) that there is a rising grassroots movement, in this case against copyright protection. New Mode describes itself thusly:

“We founded one of the world’s largest and most successful online campaigning organizations, OpenMedia, and led campaigns for progressive advocacy organizations and politicians. Our founders saw the power of community-driven campaigns first-hand.

Now, we’re putting the powerful tools used by the world’s leading campaigns into more campaigners’ pockets.

New/Mode was born to help progressive organizations activate grassroots power and win more change.”

In a recent case of Open Media astroturfing, meticulously documented by blogger David Lowery in The Trichordist, New Mode/Open Media was behind much of the misinformation spread by anti-copyright elements in Europe against the EU’s proposed Article 13. Article 13 was one element of proposed revisions to EU copyright law that would require websites who primarily host content posted by users to take “effective and proportionate” measures to prevent unauthorised postings of copyrighted content or be liable for their users’ actions. As a result of an online lobbying campaign led by Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda and facilitated by New Mode/Open Media, which focused on the claim that Internet companies would become “censorship machines,” in early July EU lawmakers narrowly rejected the proposal. The good news is that after further discussion and amendments, it was passed resoundingly on September 12, a victory for content creators. However, further steps are still required before it becomes law and major astroturfing can be expected as opponents rally against the most recent vote.

Link to the rest at Hugh Stephens Blog


24 September 2018

Self-plagiarism is style.

~ Alfred Hitchcock

12 Unforgettable Sci-Fi Movies About Memory

24 September 2018

From io9:

Filmmakers love to explore memory problems—in the form of amnesia, dementia, manipulation, conflicting recollections of the past, you name it. And this thematic fascination isn’t limited to any one movie genre; it’s the one thing OverboardMemento, and Rashomon all have in common.

But for our purposes today, we’re specifically looking at science fiction movies—so, sorry, fans of the Bourne movies, Shutter Island, Angel HeartSpellboundDesperately Seeking SusanThe NotebookThe Manchurian Candidate, and on and on. And while there are tons of sci-fi movies that use memory as a plot device, here are 12 of our favorites.

4. Blade Runner (and Blade Runner 2049)
Do memories count if you’re not actually human? Both Blade Runner movies (like Total Recall, inspired by Philip K. Dick) feature replicant characters who fervently believe their memories are real. In the original film, Rachael (Sean Young) doesn’t initially know that she’s not a real human, in large part because her recollections of her childhood are so vivid. In Blade Runner 2049, K (Ryan Gosling) is well aware that he’s a “skin job,” but begins to suspect he might be the sought-after child born to Rachael and Deckard (Harrison Ford) when he visits an orphanage and finds a small toy horse stashed exactly where he (seemingly) remembers leaving it. Both Blade Runners point out how important memories really are in constructing individual identities; it’s no wonder its characters are devastated when they realize their minds have been manipulated to believe things that aren’t authentic.

9. The Giver
A robust cast (Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, and there’s even a somewhat distracting Taylor Swift cameo) elevates Phillip Noyce’s adaptation of Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel. It’s about a society where the pursuit of order and perfection has come at the expense of emotions, free-thinking, and creative expression—basically, anything that might upset the status quo. A teenaged boy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites, soon to be seen as Dick Grayson on Titans) is informed that his prescribed career will be taking over from Bridges’ character as “receiver” of the community’s collective memories. But once “the Giver” begins to pass on his knowledge, the kid realizes exactly what his life has been missing—not just the power of memory, but also things like fear, joy, love, and excitement—and he can’t suppress his urge to share what he’s learned with everyone else. (The Giver illustrates his awakening literally, shifting the movie’s palette from monochrome grey to lush and colorful.) Bridges is great as the gruff, weary teacher, and the story offers a familiar yet earnest cautionary tale about the perils of conformity—with suppressed memories representing the greatest loss of all.

Link to the rest at io9

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