Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Get back in yer book
When characters escape from novels, photographer Lissy Elle is there to capture the action.

Developing storm front
As reported on Quill & Quire last week, it seems the Canadian Booksellers Association doesn't want its members to have to buy books from Canadian companies. Bookseller Ben McNally had something to say about that.

Who doesn't love a good book trailer?
If, unlike me, you think book trailers are not an utter waste of effort and energy, why not nominate your favourite for the first ever "Moby Awards"?

The return of Dr Watts
As has been widely reported, Dr Peter Watts has, thankfully, returned to Canada a free man.

But is it a book?
The rise of the e-book brings up an interesting question. What, exactly, is a book? There are likely some purists who would argue that a book is made of paper and printed in ink and that anything else is simply not a book, but there are others (some quite highly qualified to speak on the subject) who would say that the paper object we call a book is just one possible manifestation of books. Which brings me to The Elements, by Theodore Gray and Nick Mann. Alex Pham at the LA Times' technology blog tweaks us to the story of how a carpentry project by Gray turned into a photography project by Mann that evolved into a website that evolved into a book that evolved into an iPad e-book (with optional 3D glasses!). Each iteration of the project is manifestly different than all the rest, yet the basic content is all the same. The respected book designer Robert Bringhurst has written about how oral cultures have invisible books that exist only inside the minds of storytellers. I would go a step further and say that all books start out as invisible and that the manner in which they appear in the world is, to some degree, arbitrary. The definition of a book, at this moment in time, is based on the technology used to produce that object, but that definition is changing because the technology is also changing. With very, very few exceptions, every paper book you read is created on a computer. The printing step is, in large part, just a concession to history and custom. We are used to paper books. But if a book exists in the mind before it exists in the "real" world, then what is to say that a paper book is the only way that the invisible book can manifest itself in the material world and still be called a book? If that book of the mind does not appear in the material world as ink on paper, but rather as, say, pixels on a screen, is it no longer a book? This is not to be anti-book (because I do love those paper things), but more and more these days I find myself reading about books on technology blogs and sometimes when I am pointing you, dear reader, in the direction of such curios, I start to wonder where the definition of a book ends. I know I am not alone in this questioning, for as Pham in the LA Times tells us: "When asked whether he considered The Elements a website, an app or a book, Gray said, 'It's something you read. It has a beginning and an end. It has all these things that are satisfying about books. But at the same time, it's not limited by the concept of paper.'"

Speaking of technology
Cory Doctorow recently ripped the iPad's DRM on Publisher's Weekly.

The bookcycle
Chicago's Gabriel Levinson peddles—and pedals—books in a thoroughly low-tech manner.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Shaun Smith

Shaun Smith is a novelist and journalist living in Toronto. His young adult novel Snakes & Ladders was published in January 2009 by the Dundurn Group.

Go to Shaun Smith ’s Author Page