BookExpo Canada opened yesterday with a one-day conference: Writers to Readers: Linking the Content Creators to the End Users. The essence of the program is well captured in that title. The computer jargon signals an emphasis on connecting writers to readers through technological means. The absence of the word “book” is deliberate. Guest speaker Kevin Smokler’s assertion that the book is only the beginning was very much the party line throughout the day. And it’s no accident that it’s the content creators rather than the content that is to be linked with end users. The focus was on promoting authors more so than the individual works that they produce.
As a reader I was interested and even excited by much of what I heard. As a writer I found it all a bit distressing. This tug-of-war persisted throughout the day. I’m plotting individual posts on a couple of the sessions, but let me begin here with a quick rundown of highlights and lowlights. I’ll start with the negative and end on an up note.
- a breakout session titled “Advanced Website Marketing and Blogging” in which blogs were mentioned only once and very dismissively
- an absurdly skewed panel which promised a debate on the questions “Who Owns Information & Who Gets to Distribute It” and instead served up infomercials for Google Book Search, Amazon.com Digital Text, and MSN’s Windows Live Book Search
- a session titled “What is a Real Best Seller" in which Michael Tamblyn of BookNet Canada managed to fascinate math-phobic me with numbers and pie charts
- Kevin Smokler’s rousing presentation on why branding books is not a soulless enterprise
- Judy Rebick’s impassioned and practical pitch for fostering communities of readers online and off
Details to follow in subsequent posts...