Monday, June 08, 2009

like camping, with books

I had to get myself out of the city in the early afternoon on Saturday -- parents' 50th anniversary party to attend -- but before heading north I stopped in at U of T for the first ever bookcamp Toronto.

Essentially a gathering of book industry types with open minds, bookcamp was one of those cool "unconferences" you've been hearing so much about lately. For the uninitiated, an unconference means you write your own nametag, feel free to speak whenever the spirit moves you, and generally bask in the warm glow of the Internet's unstoppable democratization of everything (while tweeting.)

I really wish I could have stayed for more, and am hoping to find some more detailed accounts of the happening online somewhere in coming days.

I sat in on two early sessions -- one wondering if Digital Rights Management can ever succeed in building a paying readership for e-books, and the other wondering if the Internet has managed to throw the last clods of dirt on authoritative literary criticism's grave. Both were interesting discussions, and I'm not sure if either changed any longstanding opinions in the crowd.

It's hard to come to any conclusions about an event I mostly missed, but it seems bookcamp was designed to delve into the ongoing evolution of these things called books. The short bits of unconference I experienced made it clear that we are in a very active phase of that evolution. Kindlers abound and are buying more and more electronic texts (despite DRM); pirates lurk just over the horizon justifying their thievery in the name of consumer freedom; publishers make lucky discoveries about marketing even as they worry about sustainability.

We live in interesting times.


As I was writing my post, Steven Beattie over at QuillBlog was writing one of his own. His has a link to even more info! Go read it.

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