On Saturday May 15, I had an absolute blast at the 2nd BookCamp Toronto.
The theme for this "unconference" where everyone is welcome (ie, writers, technologists, publishers, readers, editors, designers, book sellers, book buyers, printers, librarians ... anyone who cares about books) was "Book Publishing Is Going Digital, Now What?"
This day long conference, or rather unconference was completely free, but did have a limited number of spaces, requiring pre-registration, and the pre-registration filled up in something like 24 hours if I remember correctly.
The basic premise for an unconference is that all attendees are participants at the event. All points of view, backgrounds, and levels of experience are welcome. Of course it also means all participants are responsible for themselves. While there is a certain amount of mob rule at a BookCamp, attendees are encouraged to vote with their feet, clean up after themselves, and speak-up when they encounter something they don't like -- in other words attendees are generally encouraged to act like adults.
BookCamp Toronto was organized by Alexa Clark, Hugh McGuire, Erin Balser, Mark Bertils and BookNetCanada. Of course, it was also supported by dozens of other friends and volunteers who helped make the day fantastic.
One of the ways I could tell the day was a success was that of the 4 concurrent sessions taking place, I knew I'd want to be in AT LEAST 2 of them at the same time. Now that's a GREAT sign of a phenomenal schedule, and a wonderful problem for a programming line-up to have. I was able to attend the following sessions:
- eBooks in Education & Academic
- Where are you at? Geolocation
- Leaping off the Page: Transmedia Storytelling*
- A Bucket of Cold Water: The Future Is Now
- Building and sustaining a community of readers online
* I had to attend Leaping off the Page, since I was co-leading the session with Jill Golick.
Here's a link to the full schedule, so you can see these were just a small portion of what the day offered. Again, it was one of those fantastic schedules where I truly wanted to be able to be in two or three places at once.
Rather than try to capture the pure essense of the wonderful day, I thought I'd share the top 10 quotes I jotted down during BookCamp Toronto (or #bcto10) as a sort of quick "snapshot" into some of the great discussions that took place that day - I did my very best to properly attribute the people speaking, but must admit I wasn't adept enough to always identify the person speaking.
1) "People will pay for content but not if they feel you're shafting them." Evan Leibovitch from York University, discussing open access content in the eBooks in Education & Academia session.
2) "There's not a single ebook reader that supports tabbed reading . . . having multiple books open at the same time." Evan Leibovitch discussing how academics often use books for research and study.
3) "Please, please, please, no DRM." John Dupuis, York University Library, stated after explaining in great detail how as a librarian he will ALWAYS be willing to pay for content, will never stop paying for content to support his academic institution.
4) "I have a feeling every single panel today is going to devolve into this type of discussion." John Dupuis after listening to yet another merry-go-round discussion of "print books vs ebooks."
5) "The agility of paper and pen." - okay, in all honesty, I missed the first part of this statement, but quite liked the way that Bob Logan of sBook perfectly described the reasoning behind the habit of writers and editors, though heavily using digital media to create their works, often still default to printing and hand-writing notes. Because I'll admit that though I do more work on the screen, I DO still have to print for a better final edit (at least for fiction and not for things I write on this blog - though I regularly do catch nasty typos and errors on this blog).
6) "Did you have an onion on your belt - was it the style at the time?" Ryan Bigge, content strategist and cultural journalist in response to a comment during the "print vs ebook" discussion that suggested new technology would never be as good as the way it has always been done.
7) "We talk about computers and ebook resources as unlimited, but they're not. There is a cost." Unattributed female participant in eBook in Education & Academia session wanting to ensure the discussion considered unseen costs, such as electricity and the huge volumes of "throw-away" trash waste involved in the rapid updates to hand-held devices and other hardware.
8) "Because they're not in Canada." A statement from one of the enthused and engaged Pearson Education editors at the eBooks in Academic session in response to the question John Dupuis posed as to why their bosses, the "big decision" makers weren't there. [Of note, there were about half a dozen folks from Pearson at the discussion, but, as interested as they were in digital strategies they are, and as involved in developing content for the products being discussed, they, are, unfortunately, not the people making the high level decisions that drive the company -- Too often, I see the sad result of the really smart and eager to progress people being held back from bringing a company to success by high level mandates that prevent them moving forward -- okay, Mark's editorial aside is over now]
9) "The only problem with using these great apps on mobile devices where traveling to other countries are the roaming charges, where a Rogers rep pops out and punches you in the face." Ron Nurwisah, The Afterword co-editor, National Post as part of a great discussion on some really cool geolocating apps and projects.
10) "If we can figure out how to get everyone paid properly, we can finally get somewhere." Deanna McFadden, Harper Collins Canada. [Ah, Deanna has a way of saying things that go right after my own heart. I think I'll go watch her BookNet Canada Tech Forum presentation again - I found it truly inspirational]
Okay, this is a tough one as I just realized something. These aren't the Top 10 quotes I jotted down at BookCamp Toronto, these are the first ten quotes I found from the 6 pages of notes I made, and are mostly from the first couple of morning sessions. Once I started typing out this list I realized I was in way over my head. I made more notes than could easily be summed up here in a single post.
So think of these like a "teaser" to the rest of the day, and, if you see an unconference, particularly a BookCamp styled event coming in your area, plan on registering EARLY and getting yourself there quickly.