Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Holidays (Virtual Mince Pies)

To all you lovely readers out there, I just wanted to wish you a very happy holiday with a plateful of virtual mince pies that I baked up just for you (my kids will eat them on your behalf).  I wish you a relaxing holiday with plenty of time to catch up on your favourite books.  What will you be reading?  I've got a stack that includes: Selected Poems of Dorothy Hewett (Kate Lilley, ed), The Vintage and the Gleaning by Jeremy Chambers, The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi, Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo, and Singing the Coast edited by Margaret Somerville and Tony Perkins, all of which I intend to read through January.  See you in 2011 with a swagfull of  reviews and interviews that include most of the above people and thanks to all of you for your support and participation this year.  For the full recipe and a little background on the pies, visit:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Coffee with that Expresso Book?

It isn't exactly dinky, but there's something a little evocative (and scary - new technology is always scary) about being able to walk into a bookshop or library, and print out any book in print in a few seconds and watch it construct in front of you.  The latest version of Espresso Book Machine® 2.0 is just 3.8 feet wide by 2.7 feet deep by 4.5 feet high (that's even shorter than I am).  You can watch a video of a book being made at The Expresso Book Machine Channel. It's pretty cool and looks a little like a big photocopier (what will they be able to expresso next?).  So will this be competition for the ebook?  Will it help authors and publishers who couldn't otherwise get shelf-space in the big chains?   Only time will tell.  I know from personal experience that book buying, particularly in a shop, is often based on serendipity - you grab what's featured, on sale, being talked about, has an evocative cover.  None of these things are conducive to using the expresso machine.  The initial launch of the book machine at Angus and Robertson in Melbourne was not a success.  However, the new machine is lighter, faster, and might be a bit cheaper.  If those things come together with the increasing cost of property, warehousing and shelf-space, then perhaps this can be a win-win for everyone who loves and lives by books.  I have to admit that I often spend many hours searching for particular titles for gifts, and knowing I can pop into my local and get anything within a few minutes, at a good rate (that's probably fairly key), would be great.  As an author, if I knew I could send readers to their local shop for a copy of any of my books, or do a reading anywhere I might happen to be visiting at the drop of a hat, with no stock and still have infinite numbers of copies to sell, then this would be a significant win.  Still, the machines retail at about 100k, which equates to a lot of stock, so probably only the big guys would have one, and those big guys might end being the supermarket or chains like Wal-Mart or Target, which would be good for authors like me, but maybe not so good for those cozy little shops down the street that know you like a friend and make wonderful suggestions.  Not that I can think of any in my area that haven't gone under to Borders or A&R.  Alas.  The future marches on. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Indie Books Holiday Giveaway Event

Over at A Word Please, the marvellous Darcia Helle is holding an Indie Books Holiday Giveaway with over 76 titles (including a number of my books) from 47 authors.  I know you all like giveaways, so I thought I'd include a little link here and let you know that the event runs throughout the month of December and is open worldwide.  Do drop by and enter - you only need to fill in a form at the site.  What's an "Indie book?"  It's a book published by a publisher that is "independent of the major conglomerates that dominate the book publishing industry. Independent book publishers include small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors."  (that's from the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group (IBPPG) website).   Because they tend not to have shareholders and high sales targets, Indie publishers often have more flexibility to be creative, innovative, and can work more quickly over longer periods of time than the conglomerates.  They are often more author friendly (especially for authors who aren't celebrities) and tend to be more focused on quality than on names or sales, and keep keep the whole industry more honest and reader/author friendly.  Of course their promotional budgets are smaller, so you might not see them in Walmart or your local supermarket, but rather in good bookstores (the kind that focus on books) or in shops like Amazon or via publisher sites.  Why not do something a little different this year and seek out smaller press, independent titles for gifts and your own reading.  You might be quite suprised at what you can find and you'll get that nice glow from knowing that you're supporting the book world in maintaining an all-important diversity.