Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You Can Watch WATCH

We're hosting a pretty cool event tonight at 7:00 PM at Titles Bookstore McMaster University.

Robert J. Sawyer is beginning the 10-city tour for his latest novel WATCH right here in Hamilton, right here at McMaster, right here at the bookstore I'm privileged to spend my days at.

I was tickled when I found out that Rob was not only willing but interested in starting his launch at our store. I thought back to the last time I had been honoured to host an event for Rob and realized that it went back at least 10 years.

While I had remained in bookselling between 1999 and 2006, I had been working at the Chapters/Indigo head office rather than at a store, so was out of the "hosting" loop for a while.

But here's the neat thing. The last event I'd hosted for Rob was when I was working at the Chapters in Ancaster. The event was part of his tour for his novel FlashForward. (Yes, THAT FlashForward, which is the basis for the hit ABC TV series in which the consciousness of the entire human race jumps into the future for about 2 minutes)

Interesting that, in Rob's novel from 1999, there's a scene in which a couple of characters walk into a bookstore, order a book, then sit down for a coffee while the book is printed on a POD machine in the store. About a decade later, Rob is returning to a store where I work and perhaps twenty feet from where he'll be reading and talking about his latest novel, Watch, will be an Espresso Book Machine, one of only 6 in Canada right now and a handful in the world. They're rare, but the technology DOES exist.

Speaking of rare, Rob is one of only 7 writers in the world (and the only Canadian) to win all three of the world's top science fiction awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

It will be great seeing Rob and Carolyn again this evening. (It seems like forever since we've had a chance to sit down and chat -- it's been at least a year, I think) I'm quite looking forward to having dinner with them this evening before the event and doing a little catching up. Then, I'm going to be delighted to introduce Rob to the McMaster and Hamilton community.

But here's where it gets really cool -- particularly if you're outside of the Hamilton area or find it impossible to get to the McMaster campus for 7 PM tonight when Rob's reading/talk and book signing start.

As booksellers, authors and book lovers know, nothing beats an in-person appearance with an author -- a chance to see them, enjoy the experience of hearing them read live and asking questions face to face while getting a book autographed.

But if you can't, we'll be broadcasting the event live to the internet via a uStream feed.

And, since there'll be a chance for people to ask questions via the uStream "chat" box, people who aren't physically at the event will still be able to ask questions. We'll have someone monitoring the chat box as well as twitter (see below) and injecting those questions to Rob during the Q&A. We're suggesting that if people want to tweet their questions that they do so using the hashtag #sfwriter ( being Rob's website). Of course, the hashtag can also be used by people wanting to talk about this event, or, heck, the whole rest of Rob's book tour as well.

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