The last time that I was in Toronto on official business was way back in 2006 when I was pulling a double duty investigation of my twin passions – books and music. I was assigned to cover the North by Northeast Festival for Discorder Magazine with my friends Calvin and Sofie by night while attending Book Expo Canada during the day.
It was a kind of Jekyll and Hyde existence.
During the afternoons I would hook up with my compadres on a Queen Street patio to discuss our musical options for the night. Over Caesars and fried chicken we’d scour the NXNE festival guidebook for venues and bands that we would like to see and photograph. Once we’d narrowed it down we’d order another round of drinks, contemplate the majesty of Toronto, bullshit about old times then pay the bill.
With our All Access lanyards dangling around our necks we’d hit the streets.
The next day I’d wake up, grab some coffee and hit the convention center where Book Expo Canada was being hosted. I’d sit in on a symposium or two on new developments in book publishing but mostly I was there to prowl the publisher’s booths where they were displaying books for the upcoming fall season..
The first clear indication that Book Expo Canada was going to be a pain in the ass and the source for many a frustrated rant was the slogan that adorned the sandwich boards and posters advertising the event.
“Book Expo Canada: Connecting Content Creators with End Users.” Talk about throwing up a little bit in my mouth.
But the book industry isn’t really about that, at least not in those terms. That slogan was probably concocted by some weary hack at Reed Expo – the company that organizes BEC and it’s gargantuan cousin, Book Expo America – and was probably bled dry of any humour, passion or nuance during a thousand production meetings.
The book industry is about people. It’s about the writers, editors, sales people, the booksellers and publicists, the readers, designers, the technical people, and everybody else who helps to give a book life.
They are the reason that the book industry is interesting and even worth talking about.
And now that Reed Expo has clearly understood the writing on the wall and pulled the plug on the Machine That Goes Bing that was the BEC – the people who are interested and passionate about books can get to work on resuscitating the patient.
Thus, I am pretty excited to have signed up for BookCamp Toronto. Just look at the people who will be there and the events that have been created already. Their site is wiki-powered – which is something that I don’t really understand, yet.
Anyway – thank you to the good people in Toronto – BookNet and company – for making this thing happen. I am really looking forward to it.