Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer of Munsch!

So far, it's shaping up to be the Summer of Munsch! Earlier this week, it was announced that Robert Munsch had donated one of his unpublished stories to 8-year-old Taya Kendall in Guelph, Ontario. She got her classmates to illustrate the book, Braids, and will be selling copies to raise money for AIDS orphans in Kenya. Check out the full story at TheStar.com or GuelphMercury.com, and be sure to visit the Children of Bukati website to find out how you can buy copies of Braids!

But wait, there's more! Today, Munsch received an outstanding birthday present (his birthday is June 11) when he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame honors Canadians who have made significant cultural achievements, and the addition of nine new members this year (including Tom Cochrane, Howie Mandel, and Kim Cattrall) brings the total number of inductees to 124. You can search for their stars in the sidewalk east of the Princess of Wales Theatre on King Street West and south along Simcoe Street (or look them up online!). All of us here at Annick Press send our heartfelt congratulations to Robert Munsch and all of the Canadian Walk of Fame inductees!

Finally, to cap off this unofficial Summer of Munsch, we are proud to announce that a board book version of The Paper Bag Princess will be available this fall -- it should arrive in our warehouse at the end of August! Now even the youngest children can cheer for smart, resourceful Elizabeth as she defeats the dragon and discovers that not all princes appreciate being rescued!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

BookCamp Toronto 2009: Asking the Right Questions

(photo: Steph Troeth)

Last weekend, my colleague Susan and I spent a sunny Saturday at camp... no, not the kind with marshmallows (although there were Rice Krispie squares at lunch, which was provided by BookNet Canada). We were at BookCamp Toronto, an "unconference" put together after the demise of Book Expo Canada.

BookCamp billed itself as "a conversation about the future of books, writing, publishing, and the book business in the digital age," and what a lively conversation it was (links to participants' notes and write-ups have been posted by both Mark Bertils and David H. Burton). Most attendees were from the publishing industry (participant Miette noted a shortage of "publishing outsiders, renegades, and derelicts"), with a few exceptions here and there.

The first step in answering "how will the publishing industry evolve?" is figuring out the right questions. Should authors and publishers be prepared to give away part or all of a book in the hopes of reaching more potential readers, or will that reduce the perceived value of the author's work? Do we need Digital Rights Management on ebooks to protect the author's right to get paid for their work, or will DRM alienate consumers? How can authors and publishers find and engage with the communities who would love their books? (Quote from Hugh McGuire of LibriVox: "What does someone who loves this book want, and how can we give it to them?")

One of the big questions for me, one that I've been hearing a lot lately, was "what is the publisher's role?" Traditionally, of course, the answer was "to publish," since the money required to create and distribute books was a significant barrier for people seeking publication. However, technological advances have lowered these costs to the point that far more people are able to publish their work by themselves, whether that be through a blog, an ebook, or a print-on-demand book. In the session "What is a publisher for?" Dan Wagstaff of Raincoast Books proposed that publishers can be advocates for books, using their expertise to collaborate with authors and produce the highest quality books possible.

Our director Rick Wilks agrees, and explains:
When we’re asked how one becomes a writer our first response is to recommend “read, read and read some more.” A similar adage applies to publishing: the art of producing a book demands a skill set that is developed over years of experience in editing, design, marketing, and an acute understanding of how a literary work will deeply resonate with the reader. It often surprises people to learn that it takes at least year to bring a book to the point where it is ready for production (and frequently much longer). At Annick we don’t release a book until it’s the best it can possibly be – a process that brings together the skills of a variety of people and involves an intense working relationship with the writer.

It would be a misnomer to believe that publishing is simply about access to an audience. A professionally published book is a unique work of art – one that is appreciated by the reader for its excellence.

I'm already looking forward to next year's BookCamp – I wonder which of this year's questions will have been answered, and what the new questions will be.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

CNN Interview with Mariatu Kamara

Our author Mariatu Kamara was recently on CNN talking about her book The Bite of the Mango, which is an account of her war-time experiences in Sierra Leone. Mariatu is an inspiring speaker -- don't miss it! (She appears at 3:59 in the video below.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BEA Wrap Up!

"Might I interest you in a quality children's book?" (Me at the Annick Press booth)

I just got back from Book Expo America (held in New York this year), where we had a very lively and productive show. Lots of great people stopped by the Annick booth: librarians, teachers, booksellers, bloggers, reviewers, writers, illustrators, printers, and of course my friends from other publishing companies! I had fun recommending books for different ages and interests, and talking about children's books in general. It's so energizing to be surrounded by book lovers!

The NAPPA (National Parenting Publications Awards) staff came by to give us our winning ribbon for A Pocket Can Have a Treasure in It, which we proudly displayed.

Later, Janice Beley from Arsenal Pulp Press (they blog, too!) came by and "yarn bombed" our Munschworks Grand Treasury to promote Arsenal's new book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. I caught her in the act!

There were also some great panels; I learned more about Twitter at a session led by Michael Gruen (@gruen). (Are you following my updates @AnnickPress?)

I especially enjoyed the panel on book blogging, where I was finally able to see the faces behind some of my favorite book review blogs. For details, read the very in-depth recap on Dawn Rennert's blog at She Is Too Fond of Books.

It was a wonderful show and I'm a little sad it's over. For more photos of BEA (including the Espresso book machine and Clifford the Big Red Dog!), head on over to our Flickr set!