Bookcamp Model and The Domino Project: Returning to Action.

Bookcamp Teepee.

Bookcamps in North America started in Toronto before spreading to Vancouver, Halifax, New York City, San Francisco and elsewhere.


Toronto and Vancouver happened in 2009 when the realities of the digital wave still seemed conquerable to the book publishing industry. This was pre-iPad, of course, when the inevitability of massive change had yet to become completely recognized.


If 2009 was a year of disruption and 2010 became a year of reckoning in book publishing, then it seems like 2011 will be the year of transformation.


One can see this in the anecdotal evidence that rips across Mike Shatzkin‘s website, Publisher’s Weekly and Globe Books. Authors are becoming autonomous in the face of half-million dollar cheques, paranormal romance writers are taking that money in reverse transactions that sees their popular digital first efforts become lucrative traditional print deals, and Seth Godin has created the Domino Project.


These realities are the echoes of the voices that came to speak at the Bookcamps that I have participated in.


It means that we have become activated. That we have moved from talking about it to acting on the opportunities that digital provides. Instead of trying to fit digital into the traditional shoebox, the outliers are experimenting with the potential.


Seth Godin distills the essence:


We are reinventing what it means to be a publisher, and along the way, spreading ideas that we’re proud to spread. Our core beliefs:


  • Exceptionally high quality ideas, created without regard for what bookstores and middlemen want.
  • Ideas packaged with cogency and urgency in mind, not a word wasted, no filler.
  • Permission at the heart of the model. Ideas for our readers, not more readers for our ideas.
  • Virality first. An idea that requires a direct sale won’t thrive in a world where the most powerful ideas spread from hand to hand. Create content that works best when spread, and then package it so it’s easy to spread.
  • Reward the sneezers who stand up and spread these ideas.
  • No patience for obsolete institutions. Bestseller lists are not worth compromising for.
  • Speed triumphs. Rapid time to market, rapid evolution, rapid response to reader feedback.
  • Format agnostic. Kindle, audiobook, paperback, collectible… all good.
  • Different products for different customers. A variety of price points and formats to match audience desires.



Sean Cranbury is the Executive Editor of Books on the Radio. He's also Founder and Creative Director of the Real Vancouver Writers' Series. Sean is General Manager at the legendary Storm Crow Tavern and consults with literary arts organizations on digital communications strategies.

1 Comment

  • Reply June 29, 2011


    “No filler”. OH GOD would that it were true.

    Sadly, mainstream publishing has no lock on filler. I’ve seen more than my share of “high-level, game-changing, paradigm-shifting new media manifestos” this year that have basically been nothing BUT the statement “engage authentically with your audience,” plus 200 pages of filler.

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