I was delighted to participate in the Parkland Regional Library Conference – Where Magic Happens, held on September 26, 2016 at the Memorial Centre in Lacombe, Alberta. I discussed book publishing in Alberta with the librarians who attended my session as well as the history, the present, and the future of book publishing in Alberta.
These notes (which include links and supplementary material) may be helpful to those who attended my session – and interesting to others who were not at this conference.
The Importance of Books and Stories
Culture is conversation. Writing, reading, editing, printing, distributing, cataloguing, reviewing, can be fuel for that conversation, ways of keeping it lively. It could even be said that to publish a book is to insert it into the middle of a conversation, that to establish a publishing house, bookstore or library is to start a conversation – a conversation that springs, as it should, from local debate, but that opens up, as it should to all places and times.
Zaid’s idea of inserting a book into a conversation created interest in our group. Publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians and readers recommend and promote books to their audiences and friends. We do our best to choose books which will be successful in meeting the needs of readers and we insert those books into as many conversations as possible.
The world is made of stories, not atoms. Books and other art forms help us to create and sustain those stories. We not only tell stories – we are stories. Librarians help us to find the stories that have been published, and they encourage writers and publishers to tell us more about our culture and our environment.
Publishing Books in Alberta
The Book Publishers Association of Alberta was created in 1975, with five founding members. The Association is a broadly-based professional organization representing and providing services and support for 28 book publishers in Alberta. The BPAA serves as an information source for its members, authors, and the public, and provides joint projects, programs and opportunities to assist publishers with book promotion, and professional development, helping them to thrive and adapt in a highly competitive industry.
The BPAA was one of the exhibitors at the conference, displaying and discussing books from their publishers, including those which won awards at the recent BPAA Book Publishing Awards gala.
While most of us continue to think of books as conventional paper products an increasing number of readers are using e-books in addition to paperbacks and hard-cover books. People who travel extensively may prefer to read books on their iPads, and students may prefer to do the same. Readers want the opportunity to choose the formats and products that best meet their needs.
We discussed how e-books can be used to promote and inform, and how some publishers have created enhanced e-books and apps to provide a different types of reading and learning experiences.
The BPAA is currently aggregating the collection of e-books that have been published by their members, with the goal of making them available to all Albertans through the library systems. There will be approximately 1200 titles in the collection. The project also includes the acquisition of new e-book titles as they become available as ongoing additions to the collections. The goal is to have the collection available through libraries in October.
Short Run Publishing
Some printers now provide short print runs for individuals, groups and small publishers, coupled, in some cases, with marketing and promotion services. On Demand Books has produced the Espresso Book Machine which prints a conventional book in several minutes. Espresso Book Machines are located in a number of Canadian institutions and private bookstores including the Toronto Public Library, the Edmonton Public Library, McNally Robinson (Winnipeg), Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto Bookstore, University of Prince Albert University Bookstore, and the University of Victoria Bookstore.
Books Discussed in the Session
Alternative Futures For What We Currently Call Publishing – An exciting exploration of the future of publishing, produced by the BPAA in 2012, featuring chapters by Todd Anderson, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Jessica Legacy, Donna Livingstone, Jerome Martin, Paul Martin, and Kirby Wright. This is a free e-book, available on the BPAA site.
Golden Prairie – Jerome Martin. 2007. This is a free e-book, with text, audio, and photographs. Spotted Cow Press.
London – Jerome Martin. 2009. This is a free e-book, with text, audio, and photographs. Spotted Cow Press.
To The Horizon and Beyond: Student Ministers in Golden Prairie, Saskatchewan, 1929 – 1975 – Jerome Martin. 1990. Spotted Cow Press.
Looking at Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man – iTunes app.