BookCampTO 2014 – Sessions

I, Algorithm – 12 pm
Publishers and booksellers have yet to come up with the perfect readers’ advisory experience online. Why? Well, we all know that online book suggestions lack the intuition and understanding that comes from a good old Q & A with a living, breathing, knowledgeable human being, that’s why. So what to do? What will it take to get the right book in the right hands when algorithms (as yet) don’t have a soul? Or should we just leave all that heavy lifting to trained librarians who have been doing it for centuries? (Or maybe there’s a place for all of us. Aw!) Join Janet Murie, National Account Manager, Library and Educational Retail Accounts at Scholastic Canada and Sharon Bailey, librarian at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to chat/spar about discoverability, readers’ advisory, and where publishers, booksellers, and librarians could go from here.

Creating a Reader – 12 pm
Book conferences often focus on the industry or business of books – publishing, digitizing, facts and figures, how to market to book buyers, the hottest trends and newest releases. But without the book readers, there is no industry or business.  In a world with constant distractions; which often seems to discourage us from sitting down with a book, how can we nurture bibliophiles and create life-long readers.  Join Roxanne Deans (Co-creator of StoryMobs and former bookstore owner) for an open conversation on how to get and keep people reading.

The State of Canadian Poetry – 12 pm
According to BookNet data, Poetry sales in Canada rose 4% in 2013! That’s a big leap for a niche market and a positive sign for Canadian poets. The League of Canadian Poets’ Ayesha Chatterjee and Wolsak & Wynn’s Paul Vermeersch lead a discussion on the state of poetry in Canada; what’s working, what’s not, and how poets and publishers are changing.

We Have Skills! – 12 pm
Some areas of publishing, and other book-related activities and positions, allow people to move from one area to another, but for others, it’s a little more difficult or involves thinking outside the box. Nic Boshart (The Walrus Magazine and Ryerson University) and David Ward (Wolters Kluwer Canada and Ryerson University) have both moved laterally from one facet of publishing to another in very different organizations. What skills lend themselves to this kind of movement? Is everyone doomed to professional silos?

eBOUND’s Best Practices Study Session – 1 pm
Krys Ross, CEO of eBOUND Canada, and Diane Davy, President of Castledale Inc. will discuss findings from the new study Book Publishing: Current and Emerging Best Practices in Promoting and Marketing Digital Content. The study was commissioned by eBOUND and produced by Castledale with financial support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Genre Doesn’t Suck (Even if you Think it Does) – 1 pm
“Romance books all follow a formula.”

“I liked horror in my teens, but now I read books with literary merit.”

Genre fiction has ardent supporters, but in larger circles it’s often dismissed. Let’s talk about the stereotypes and stigmas attached to fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, and sci-fi, the challenges of writing, acquiring, and publishing, the joys of reading and discovering, and more. We’re four genre editors (who also happen to be readers, writers, reviewers, and speakers) and we want to know: Why do we read genre? How do we define literary merit? And how can we stop the “I don’t read books with Fabio on the cover” fallacy once and for all?

Reviewing in Review – 1 pm
Join book critics Heather Cromarty, Emily M. Keeler, and Jeet Heer in a rousing discussion of the state of book reviewing in this country. How has the function of literary criticism changed in recent years, where more books are being published than ever, even as review spaces across the country shrink? Why is criticism worth paying for? Why write criticism for free? Why write book criticism at all? These and other questions will be considered, please bring some questions of your own for this informal discussion panel.

Freelancing Without Resorting to Food Stamps – 1 pm
For some it’s the dream; for others, the fallback. Freelancing has always been a staple of the publishing industry, from editorial to layout and design. As the industry changes, so too must freelancers learn flexibility and new tactics for finding work in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Join freelancers Avril McMeekin, Evan Munday, and Andrew Wilmot for an enlightening AMA about all things freelancing: from finding your first clients to building a roster, networking, and eventually expanding your horizons and your skill set.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? – 2 pm
Despite all the upheaval of recent years, one truth remains: most publishing side-projects are labours of love. But what if the normal pressures associated with them (print costs, distribution, marketing) are removed and are actually served by the shiny tools of the digital age? Is digital publishing actually easier than print publishing? Can anyone do it? Would anyone do it? Are the rewards as tangible? And who is making the rules for digital publishing these days? In no particular order,Troy Palmer (Little Fiction), Bryan Ibeas (Found Press), and Aoife Walsh (The South Circular) will tackle these questions and preconceptions. They’ll wonder out loud about whether digital has created a ‘new publishing ethos’, they’ll describe the advantages of being a lean start-up and the challenges of sustainability in a seemingly fickle digital world.

Bookselling – 2 pm
The state of Toronto bookselling from three viewpoints, based on three different business models— what strategies and directions are practiced in common as booksellers? Where do those models diverge? Discussions will focus on the ecology of bookselling right now as a day-to-day enterprise, rather than the standard narratives that dominates headlines.

Sanity and Beauty – 2 pm
David Gee and Michel Vrana, two celebrated Canadian book designers, are here to answer your questions about book design. There will likely be ringers (everyone has an opinion!) for what will assuredly be a lively question-and-answer discussion period on cover design, interior design, keeping authors and publishers happy, and, most importantly, keeping sane.

Today’s Lit Mag Landscape – 2 pm
Do you want to talk about your favourite magazine? Understand why you get junk mail from them, or why everything isn’t easily available online, when the technology exists? Start your own publication?

This session will take a close look at the lively, vaguely mad landscape of Canadian literary magazines – the titles that cultivate & publish authors before they’re signed to book deals, help publicize new releases and foster a community of readers more generally. Nadia Szilvassy (Publisher & Managing Editor, Brick) and Alastair Cheng (Co-Publisher, Literary Review of Canada) will be there to talk shop, with Paul Vermeersch (Senior Editor, Wolsak & Wynn) providing a writer and book publisher’s perspective on how things work. General session topics will include key challenges and opportunities for cultural magazines today – government funding/cuts, internships, technological change and new publisher activities, from merchandise to live events – as well as how magazine and book people can work together to foster great Canadian writing. And to find it an audience, of course.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Editors – 3 pm
Presented by the Editors’ Association of Canada

Good editors must be flexible and adaptable when it comes to finding solutions to the problems they encounter in their work — and, increasingly, when it comes to defining what exactly the job of “editor” encompasses. With the rise of self-publishing and the increasing digitization of publishing, the editor’s role has at once contracted and expanded: shrinking editorial budgets and timelines lead to a collapse of the traditional editorial process, yet the demand for editors is greater than ever before. How do professional editors respond to these changes in the field? What challenges do they encounter and what new creative opportunities exist? What skills must an editor have in their toolbox in order to be successful in this expanded field? Join panelists Gillian Buckley and Jaclyn Law and moderator Avril McMeekin as they attempt to answer these questions and more.

Self Pubs – 3 pm
Alas, the session has nothing to do with pubs or beer. An increasing proportion of books are being self-published, usually badly. Actually, “self”-publishing is a bit of a misnomer—increasingly, the successful authors we’ve seen are hiring editors, designers, marketing experts, and even administrative assistants. Helping people self-publish can be rewarding and even lucrative. But it can also be frustrating and disappointing for the authors and for the publishing professionals trying to help them.

We’ll talk about project planning and funding, editing, design, formatting, sales, print and ebook distribution, marketing, and dealing with authors’ fears, frustrations, and often-unrealistic hopes and expectations.

Book, Events, Book, Book, Events… – 3 pm
Join Amanda Hopkins (Writer’s Trust), Monique Mongeon (Giller Light), Sarah Smith-Eivemark (Coach House Books), and Heather Kanabe (Word On the Street) for questions and answers about the exciting (and nerve-jangling) world of events – BOOK events. How are they done? How do you get people there? How do you pay for it? What are the benefits and what are the drawbacks? Book events are some of the most rewarding but difficult events to arrange. And how do their organizers keep it all (and themselves) together?

Diversity in Publishing – 3 pm
There have been several articles published recently which have been critical of the lack of diversity in North American publishing. Anecdotally, most of us in the Canadian industry must be aware that our companies do not reflect the diversity of our society. Many of us go a step further and argue that this situation is troubling and problematic. Join Scott Fraser (Penguin Random House) and Léonicka Valcius (Scholastic) to discuss the diversity gap in Canadian publishing both in terms of the staff in publishing houses and in the books they produce. We will dig deep and look at the role played by the institutional organization of major publishing houses. We will also look at Canadian publishers through the framework of Canadian multiculturalism. There won’t be any easy answers, but hopefully through the participation of the audience we can understand the nature of the problem and begin to map out how to move from “here” to a more colourful and diverse “there”.

Bringing it all together / Blowing it all up – 4 pm
Bring your overflowing brain (and heart!) to this last session of the day where we’ll look back over the day’s sessions and try to see around the next corner of this industry. Through all the upheaval of the last 5 years, what’s held constant? What do we take for granted today that was inconceivable 5 years ago? And when all the dust settles (will it ever settle?) who’s doing what jobs? What are the new career paths for people who love reading or writing? And where’d the old ones go? Note: no guarantee that we’ll answer even one of these questions.

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