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Highlights from Tech Forum & ebookcraft 2019

Story by Jazmin Welch, Master of Publishing student

The MaRS Discovery District was buzzing with excitement this past week as I entered into BookNet’s annual Tech Forum & ebookcraft conference. I felt an overwhelming sense of curiosity, not knowing exactly what I would discover, but eager to soak in as much as I possibly could from some of the most innovative and prominent leaders in the publishing industry today. With my laptop open ready to take notes and a coffee in hand, I was all ears.

It was an absolute pleasure to see that the 2019 programming for both ebookcraft and Tech Forum had a strong focus on accessibility and diversity. Arguably publishers are still some of the most prominent gatekeepers of what content reaches consumers and therefore publishers have such an important duty in ensuring that diverse voices are heard and that the content they produce is accessible for all. I didn’t expect that I would be touched by the presentations at a conference about technology in the publishing world but it made me proud to be part of this traditionally colonial industry, whose current members are working incredibly hard to break away from the darker areas of it’s past to create a truly inclusive industry.

I had the incredible opportunity to chat with people from all over the world, including two men from O’Reilly in the States, and two women from Book Wire in Brazil, along with many young women from Penguin and Simon and Schuster among others. Their questions and comments brought so much more to the table.

Here is a recap of my highlights from the conference!

Masters of Publishing Student at Ebookcraft
Jaz Welsh gets creative at the Perler bead sign station. Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

Diversity & Publishing

Disrupting Bias

Ritu Bhasin of Bhasin Consulting Inc. was a stellar presenter, I felt like I was watching a Ted Talk, but the best part was that she gave the audience actionable tools to start using right away in order to create inclusive companies.

I didn’t realize that there were different levels of diversity. Compliance represents the level to which a company is simply following government regulated diversity legislature, diversity is the quantitative representation of groups which often feels like tokenism since it’s just looking at the numbers (for example how many women or visible minorities are working at a company), and lastly inclusion is the true qualitative inclusion of diversity into the company by allowing employees to bring their authentic selves to work. It is at this stage that anti-oppression and decolonization can really start to take place, and where employees don’t have to mask or deflect biases. At the inclusion level, companies can start to attack the system and unwind the underlying ideologies.

From here Bhasin went into a detailed analysis of bias which to her is the fundamental problem underlying the diversity issue. People are prone to bias as we are programmed to be afraid of people who are different from us. Bhasin takes care to back up her talk with neuroscience, really grounding her action steps in research. She says that to attack our own personal biases we need to start recognizing difference. The old way of thinking about diversity is to believe that we are all the same, but in order to actually catch ourselves and start to break down our inherent biases we need to make our unconscious decision making conscious. Bhasin defined a 2 step process:

  • Step One: In your brain consciously clock cultural identities
    • For example, “I am talking with an indigenous woman or a disabled person etc.”
    • Be aware of who you’re talking to. Identifying cultural identity is not the issue, it’s the meaning that your brain has attached to it.
  • Step Two: Try to determine what the meaning is that you’re attaching to that cultural identity but don’t beat yourself up about your biases. You have to probe yourself to find out why you have these biases. The presence of diversity in our midst is not being inclusive, you need to be having meaningful interactions to change your biases over time.

Bhasin also provided 4 strategies for inclusion:

  1. Change your behaviour: Start with the steps above.
  2. Expand your circles and practices: have more meaningful, deeper conversations, understand differences and acknowledge who you’re talking up versus talking down.

  3. Reveal your personal side: the more empowered you and your team is, the more innovative and creative. Think about one thing about yourself that’s tied back to your cultural identity that you don’t share at work due to cultural bias? Start to share it and feel like you belong as you are.
  4. Change the system: Change how we market books and hire staff to really create systemic disruption.
The crowd at ebookcraft
Jaz Welch talking with Dave Cramer, Liam Quin, and Keith Snyder. Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

I found the candid fireside chat that Bhasin had with Leonicka Valcius following the presentation equally eye opening. I’ve already started to put her methods into practice. As a straight white cis woman, I have a privilege that can’t be denied and although I grew up with the ideals that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated equally, I understand that there are relentless underlying biases that are so deeply entrenched that I personally have so much work to do to unravel hundred of years of sterotying, bias and inequality. One thing that can be hard is having those meaningful conversations that I recounted above. Bhasin acknowledged that people typically avoid conversations with those different from us in order to not offend. I can attest to this, I think I’m being overly nice and then just end up saying nothing which will do us no good in terms of breaking down those biases. Bhasin recommended asking for permission. for example, upon engaging with a person who told her that they suffer from bipolar disorder, she said she asked them if she could have permission to ask her about her experiences as a person living with bipolar disorder. From there the deeper conversation could begin. I thought this was a very simple and powerful tool to open up the floor for meaningful discussion.

Diversity by the Numbers

Both Noah Genner of BookNet Canada and Kate Edwards of ACP presented on the state of diversity in the publishing industry. The 2018 Canadian Book Publishing Diversity Baseline Survey shows that the industry is still overwhelmingly run by white people especially in leadership positions, and is mostly composed of women, but less so in leadership roles. Edwards noted some of the initiatives that publishers are starting to implement to increase diversity in their companies. These included:

  • New recruitment strategies and hiring practices
  • Only offering paid internships
  • Looking farther afield for candidates
  • The removal of publishing experience as a requirement for getting a job
  • Writing job descriptions to be more attractive for people in diverse communities
  • Offering mentorship and professional development
  • Hiring sensitivity readers
  • Ensuring boards have diverse members

Genner’s data looked at diversity from the book and content perspective. BookNet’s survey found that 62% of respondents say they seek out diverse books and 22% say they can’t find what they’re looking for. People want to see books that represent themselves. The results are in! These are high stats and as members of the publishing industry we should be acting on these numbers.

Discussions at tech forum ebookcraft
Jaz Welch talking with Laura Brady (right) and Clive Thompson (left) on the topic of paying interns. Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

Diversity and Data: Give the Readers What They Want!

The numbers presented by Genner and Edwards tied nicely into a presentation by Wattpad with Ashleigh Gardner. Wattpad is harnessing data and technology to bring more diversity into publishing. Because of their incredibly large user base of writers and readers they are able to see where people are located and the type of books they are reading. Emerging trends that Wattpad is tracking show a strong business case for diversity in publishing. For example a prominent tag right now is #muslimromance. LGBT stories are also growing in demand. People are looking for more diverse titles to read and love reading about strong women. The traditional publishing industry can be problematic to publishing diverse voices since publishers use comp titles to make a sales case for new books. In this model, diverse voices aren’t published simply because they haven’t been published in the past, but this issue is eradicated with Wattpad where users post their own stories and self tag them for Wattpad readers to find. If a book becomes popular and is read by thousands of people, there is no need for a comp title. The proof is in the data!

Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Publishing World

We continued to dive head first into data with a stacked panel on AI featuring Wendy Reid from Kobo, Joshua Tallent of Firebrand Technologies, Monica Landers of Storyfit, and Jens Tröger from Bookalope.

The consensus on this panel discussion of experts in the AI field was that AI will never operate entirely without human intelligence. For example you can get an AI to do your ebook tagging to speed up the process, but a human should still review it. An example provided was the website this person does not exist which showcases faces created entirely by AI, but you can still tell that a robot made them (for the most part). It will of course continue to get better, but it was reassuring to hear a panel of experts strongly concur that robots are not taking over any time soon.  

The benefit of AI, is that it can harness and review millions of pieces of data and spit out the results of that review very quickly, tasks that no human mind could ever complete.

A presentation at tech forum & ebookcraft 2019
Wendy Reid (Left), Senior QA Analyst at Kobo moderating a panel on AI, speaking with Monica Landers, CEO at StoryFit.

The panel also discussed neural net, a type of AI where there are no inputs added by the developer so the machine is let loose on large amounts of data to learn patterns on its own. This sounds like it would be great because there would be no bias that would be added inherently by the developer but unforeseeable issues still arise based on the data that the machine picks up. This can be problematic if people purposefully abuse the technology so that it learns unsavoury traits. Another example of this is the recent Amazon hiring story where the AI didn’t pick any female candidates because there were no women in their data set. Based on some backfiring AI’s, it seems like developer inputs are necessary. Since this is the case, there is a lot riding on the clean input of data. One of the panelists stated that, “if you garbage in, you’ll get garbage out” because your AI will spit your bad data and biases right back at you if that’s what data it’s been trained on.

AI’s need to be trained properly. For example, Google’s capcha is one of the greatest examples of a global AI training. Everytime you choose what parts of an image have a car in them to prove that you aren’t a robot, you’re actually training a robot to pick out objects in an image. I’ve submitted countless Kapcha surveys and had never considered that I was helping out Google in the process!

The audience for this panel was not filled with AI developers, so a key message nearing the end of the panel was to encourage all of us to jump hurdles with new tech, because the pain of learning will only become harder and harder as new technologies emerge.  

All things Ebooks and Accessibility

The future of digital reading

Dave Cramer started the day off with a discussion on the future of digital reading (full presentation here). After recapping the history of ereaders and various ebook formats, he turned to the opportunities that lie ahead. Cramer spoke candidly and did not hold back his disdain for the fixity of certain ebook formats (fixed layout ebooks primarily). He noted that even big publishers make bad ebooks and that even though ebook development has come a long way, it still has a long way to go. He argued for digital publications to move to the web and away from their EPUB containers. The future of digital reading is the removal of the reading systems all together. Web publications should be produced in a browser friendly format or BFF (how great is this term), so that it “plays nice” across all devices and platforms.

Cramer often acknowledges the developers in the room who are actively working to make more accessible publications. There was a stirring sense of collaboration throughout the day. When speakers mentioned various code initiatives they are working on, they all gave acknowledgement to those who have helped them with the project and stated that it’s open access for others to build upon and refine. One speaker also linked to their project on Github in an effort to have the community actively report bugs. With this strong sense of community already forming in the morning of day one, I knew I was in for a great conference!

What makes a great EPUB?

Following Cramer’s inspiring talk, we then jumped into some specifics about ebooks (for the full powerpoint, click here). Shannon Culver from eBOUND Canada and Sabina Iseli-Otto from NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Service) talked about what’s needed to really make eBooks right. This doesn’t mean how they look, but if ebook are made properly they should be as accessible as possible and they should be built to last. They started out by explaining exactly what it means for an ebook to be accessible, which they defined using the following elements:

  • There need to be options for reading
  • Sales should be directed to an underserved audience
  • Consider timeliness (accessible version to be out at the same time as a print book)
  • The ebook must be findable (accessible versions are each to find)
  • Make it inclusive and equitable, benefitting all
  • Keep in mind internet connectivity, and
  • Remember there is a shared accountability and responsibility (by all those involved)

The speakers then moved into a discussion on the state of current ebooks and the challenges we are still facing with the EPUB format. These include:

  • A lack of semantic tags
  • A Lack of page numbers (how do you cite text in a reflowable eBook?)
  • Proper alt text for images
  • Broken or incomplete table of contents
  • Inaccessible fixed layout ebooks are still pervasive
  • Difficult searchability and discovery
  • Many publishers still use EPUB 2 over EPUB 3
Swag from tech forum and ebookcraft
Merch from Tech Forum and Ebookcraft!

I was surprised to learn that in many cases, especially academic publishing, PDF’s are still a pervasive format for digital texts. Page numbers are very important in academic fields, which is very problematic when faced with the reflowability of EPUB’s. This is a hard issue to reconcile for a standardized format and this presentation opened my eyes to how difficult it is to create an ebook format that works for everyone.

I really liked the quote the speakers included by Marisa DeMeglio who stated, “accessibility should be accessible”. This seems obvious, but for those who are trying to create accessible publications, the guidelines should be widely accessible and easy to find and follow. They then cited many resources to use to help you build accessible EPUB’s such as Laura Brady’s video on Lynda.com. Another issue related to creating bulletproof ebooks is that ongoing training is required, but it’s an important investment for publishers to make.

In the end, they made a case for “born-accessible publishing” which is the creation of documents that start accessible rather than it being an afterthought. Accessibility for edge cases really ends up benefiting everyone, such as the ramps that are designed to allow wheelchairs easy access into buildings that also help out the larger user base of parents pushing strollers up the ramps. Accessible ebooks benefit those with perceptual disabilities but they also improve SEO and discoverability. It’s good for everyone!

Pagination in the Browser

The following presentation by Nellie McKesson of Hederis was incredibly exciting but also quite technical. She discussed how the platform Hederis allows publishers to create publications directly in the browser (based on paged.js). Starting with uploading your Microsoft file you can convert to EPUB and print PDF. Launching in the summer designers will also be able to go into the browser based publication and typeset the document. This was absolutely fascinating to see! I look forward to the launch of the design portion and I’m marking my calendar so that I can run one of my projects through the platform. This seems like an absolutely ground-breaking and revolutionary approach to publishing that will empower all publishers to create better works without needing a strong coding background. This was one of the best parts about the conference that I was a bit intimidated about at first: programming. Even though some presentations were technical, the speakers made them easy to follow and had valuable insights for people who know very little about the coding that goes on behind the scenes in ebook production like me!

Nellie McKesson
Nellie McKesson, president and CEO Hederis, Inc. presenting on pagination in the browser.

Ebooks that Last

One problem I hadn’t spent much time thinking about before this conference is the ebook backlist. Teresa Elsey’s presentation (found here) on the issue of old ebooks and best practices to ensure the longevity of ebooks was eye opening.

The purpose of Elsey’s presentation was to empower teams to have the knowledge to create publications that can be passed down and will last longer than the teams in publishing houses that have specific knowledge. Ebooks in essence must be built to last.

One really great insight I hadn’t considered is what a bad ebook can do to sales. Elsey was Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Senior Managing Editor (Digital) where she handled ebook issues that were reported back to the company where she and her team would work on resolving them. When an ebook and print book go live on Amazon for sale, an ebook user gets access to the publication right away, as soon as it’s purchased. If they see an issue with the file, such as no table of contents or some reading error with the text, it’s possible that they will immediately post a bad review about the books functionality. Meanwhile the print reader won’t have even received their book in the mail yet, and they would not likely post any kind of review about the content of the book until they are finished reading it however many weeks or months later. The ebook reviews come out immediately and a 1 star review on the day of the book’s launch can have an incredibly negative impact on online sales. The immediacy of the digital format makes it’s proper creation even more important.

Elsey went on to describe digital practices to ensure that ebooks can be effectively achieved without losing future functionality such as using Internet Archive to ensure that your ebooks don’t succumb to link rot (link rot of just 2 or more links in an ebook can lead to the whole book being rejected by a retailer).

Here are some specific tips that Elsey provided for ensuring the longevity of ebooks:

Ebook Design:

  • Don’t be cute: don’t have design elements that are fragile
  • Don’t be clever: being conservative is important when you’re implementing features into a 500+ book backlist, think about being bulletproof
  • Use html first over css

Ebook workflow:

  • Build all ebooks the same way (they should be automatable and low touch)
  • Edit source files not outputs
  • Save high-quality assets
  • Follow the standards
People talking at Tech Forum Ebookcraft
Jaz Welch talking with Keith Snyder, Dave Cramer, and Liam Quin. Photo by Yvonne Bambrick

The User’s Perspective

This presentation by Kai Li was incredibly important as he talked from his lived experience with a perceptual disability. This was a call to arms for publishers to hire people with disabilities for all stages of content creation, but not just as the companies spokesperson for people with disabilities. Just like the exhaustion that visible minorities feel to be the beacons of diversity, people with disabilities have more to offer than their insights on the issues with accessible publishing. Li notes that people with disabilities are incredibly innovative as they have had to become the ultimate problem solvers to navigate a world that is so often not accessible, they are also highly productive. Li also cited a report that found that companies who hired people with disabilities had a 28% higher revenue than those who did not.

If you’re interested in checking out more of the presentations, the live videos will be up soon, but the powerpoint presentations from each speaker are already live if you click on their corresponding event listing here.

One of my biggest takeaways from the conference… I need to get on Twitter so that I can interact more with the industry and speak to these amazing publishing professionals. It seems to be where the publishing conversations are taking place. In all seriousness though, I am honoured to be part of this incredible industry and I look forward to the future of publishing knowing that these incredible people are leading the charge. Now it’s time to put the learnings from this conference into practice!


Kathleen Fitzpatrick on the Power of Generous Thinking

Kathleen Fitzpatrick gave the 2019 Munro Lecture

“What might be possible for us if we were to retain the social commitment that motivates our critical work, while stepping off the field of competition?” Kathleen Fitzpatrick asked a rapt audience at SFU’s Harbour Centre last Wednesday, “We would have to open ourselves to the possibility that our ideas might be wrong.”

Fitzpatrick is Director of Digital Humanities at Michigan State University, the former Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association, and—most recently—the invited speaker at this year’s Munro Lecture at SFU.

Named after Jock Munro—an economist and former SFU Vice-President, Academic—the lecture series has hosted a number of acclaimed scholars over the years, including Linda Tuhiwai Smith on decolonizing the research process and Arthur Hanson on China’s green economy. This year’s edition continued the conversation started during last fall’s President’s Dream Colloquium on Making Knowledge Public.

Juan Pablo Alperin, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, and Joanne Curry at the Munro Lecture on Generous Thinking
Juan Pablo Alperin, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, and Joanne Curry at the Munro Lecture on Generous Thinking

In her talk, Fitzpatrick discussed the individualistic nature of academic life and how it impedes the relationships that exist between universities and the communities that surround them. Drawing from her newly released book, Generous Thinking, she explored the many challenges that stand in the way of a more engaged academic system and offered a radical approach to how overcoming them—starting with a complete shift in how we think about public scholarship.

Her passionate appeal resonated with many in the audience, with nods, sighs, and the occasional “Yeah!” permeating the presentation. “Generous thinking,” it seems, had been on many listeners’ minds.

As John Maxwell, Director of SFU’s Publishing Department, aptly put it, “Kathleen Fitzpatrick has elegantly articulated what many academics have been thinking—that the black and white framing of university and society is not serving anyone well, and that our culture of internal competitiveness undermines any effort to be engaged and relevant.”

So what can today’s academics do to become more engaged, relevant, and connected?

“All… possibilities begin with cultivating the ability to think generously,” Fitzpatrick offered at the end of her lecture, “To listen to one another.”  

Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Munro Lecture on Generous Thinking was presented in partnership with the SFU President’s Office, SFU Public Square, and SFU’s School of Publishing. For those who missed it, a video is available from the SFU Library.


This blog post was first published on the Scholarly Communications Lab Blog, and has been reposted here with permission.  



Making Research Knowledge Public Award | Interview with recipients Hannah McGregor and Juan Pablo Alperin

SFU Publishing's Hannah McGregor looking happy and vibrant in downtown Vancouver.
SFU Publishing’s Hannah McGregor is a recipient of the Research Excellence Award for Making Research Knowledge Public. Photo by Christopher M Turbulence.

“Sometimes people need to be told that your work is for them, or invited in some way,” says Hannah McGregor, an assistant professor in Simon Fraser University’s Publishing Department and the host and producer of the podcast Secret Feminist Agenda. “There are lots of ways to invite people into your work, but I think one of the best is to think about the kind of language and media that you use.”

The podcast, which she describes as “a weekly discussion of the insidious, nefarious, insurgent, and mundane ways we enact our feminism in our daily lives,” is just one of the many ways McGregor invites the public to engage with her work. She’s also active on social media, a co-editor of a new book exploring the state of Canadian Literature, and the organizer of Publishing Unbound, a workshop that brought together authors, activists, scholars, and publishing professionals to discuss inclusivity and accountability in Canadian Literature.

As of this December, she is also a co-recipient—with ScholCommLab director Juan Pablo Alperin—of the inaugural Research Excellence Award for Making Research Knowledge Public. Adjudicated by a university-wide panel, the award was jointly presented to the duo in recognition of their “demonstrated excellence in making research outcomes and insights public and in engaging new communities with scholarly or artistic work.”

Juan Pablo Alperin (centre) at the Research Excellence Award ceremony with SFU Publishing Director John Maxwell and FCAT Associate Dean Stuart Poyntz
Juan Pablo Alperin (centre) at the Research Excellence Award ceremony with SFU Publishing Director John Maxwell and FCAT Associate Dean Stuart Poyntz

Like McGregor, Alperin is an assistant professor in the Publishing Department and a strong believer in the importance of public scholarship. But while McGregor takes a public-focused approach to making research knowledge public, Alperin’s work is centred within the academic system itself—dedicated to investigating the ins and outs of open access publishing, the barriers that prevent academics from engaging in public scholarship, and more.

In celebration of the award, we asked Alperin and McGregor to share their views on making research knowledge public and the challenges that sometimes stand in the way.

What does “making research knowledge public” look like to you? 

Juan Pablo Alperin: I see open access as a very basic, initial step toward making research knowledge public. We never know who in society might care about our work, regardless of how niche an audience we might have in mind. My own research and other evidence points to the fact that there are members of the public who want to know. Even if faculty don’t want to change anything else about what they do, they can make sure that their research is at least accessible to anyone who wants to see it. For me, making research knowledge public is about enabling and supporting an ecosystem in which that becomes the norm.

Hannah McGregor: I think open access should be the default and baseline, particularly for journals. But access goes beyond just paywalls; it also has to do with language and discoverability. Journals—open access or not—still circulate within particular systems of discoverability that are available mostly to people who know how universities work.

The side of things that I have been working on is what my colleague Jon Bath calls public-first scholarship. I’ve been thinking about what it means to do your work in the public from the get-go, rather than doing it within the university and then making it public later. I’m making podcasts, because podcasts are not a university medium. They are a medium that has their own logic, a logic that is inherently open and inherently public-facing. I want the audience for my work to not be precluded by people who have access to scholarship.

What are the top challenges when it comes to public scholarship? 

JPA: What I see as the biggest challenge is getting academics to think and care about non-academic audiences—to start believing that making research available matters. Everyone cares in a very abstract way, but not everyone thinks about non-academic audiences as important constituents who they have a duty to share their work with. We need to shift that perspective so that faculty see public scholarship as a primary objective of their work, and not way down the list of things they have to do. We need to make it a priority.

“We need to shift that perspective so that faculty see public scholarship as a primary objective of their work, and not way down the list of things they have to do. We need to make it a priority.”—Juan Pablo Alperin

HM: For me, it’s the finitude of our time and energies. I’ve been working on my podcast for a year and a half. I love making it, but I also can do almost nothing else while I’m working on it. Many, many scholars doing this kind of work have been facing this challenge for ages: you end up having to do twice the work. You have to do all of the traditionally recognized scholarship in order to secure a job and then secure promotion and tenure. But at the same time, you want to do this other work—the work that, in my view, really matters.

The podcast is great and brings me a lot of public interest in my work. But can I get tenure for a podcast? Maybe not.

If you could change one thing…

HM: I’d like to see some pretty significant transformations in how, at the departmental level, research is valued. I think non-traditional scholarly options need to be taken seriously as the primary output of scholars. Based in part on conversations that I’ve had with other academics and in part on research that came out of this lab on public scholarship and the degree to which it’s represented in tenure and promotion documents, we know that the vast majority of university departments do not care about public scholarship. They care about published journal articles in peer-reviewed journals. People have finite energy, and if one thing is going to get you a job and the other is going to get you a thumbs up, but ultimately no financial security, what thing are you going to choose?

“Non-traditional scholarly options need to be taken seriously as the primary output of scholars… People have finite energy, and if one thing is going to get you a job and the other is going to get you a thumbs up, but ultimately no financial security, what thing are you going to choose?”—Hannah McGregor

What do you think researchers could do better? 

JPA: There’s a lot more that could be done around sharing, disseminating, and talking about our work in a wide range of venues. We need to look for broader audiences for our research—be that by posting on social media, doing outreach to media, or creating infographics and other simplified forms of communicating our results.

We need to widen our conception of who our audience is. An audience could be anyone, so just put your research out there in slightly different forms and different ways—as many as come to mind and as you have time and resources for.

This blog post was first published on the Scholarly Communications Lab Blog, and has been reposted here with permission.  


Subverting the Genre: Connie Walker on Podcasting and Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

As Connie Walker’s hit podcasts, Missing & Murdered—”Who Killed Alberta Williams,” and, “Finding Cleo”—approach the 20 million download mark, we take you behind the stories, into the editorial decision making, and into the struggles behind one of Canada’s most downloaded podcasts. How has the media transformed over the last five years when reporting in Indigenous communities? What is the importance of understanding the role of trauma in our communities in our news and feature stories?

Following a public talk, Connie will be joined by Ryan McMahon, creator, writer, and host of the Thunder Bay podcast, for a Q&A with the audience.

Connie Walker is an award-winning investigative reporter and host of the CBC News podcast, Missing & Murdered. In 2017, “Missing & Murdered: Who killed Alberta Williams?” won the RTDNA’s Adrienne Clarkson Award and was nominated for a Webby Award. Walker and colleagues at the CBC’s Indigenous Unit, won multiple awards including the 2016 Canadian Association of Journalists’ Don McGillivray investigative award, a Canadian Screen Award and the prestigious Hillman Award for its “Missing & Murdered: The Unsolved Cases of Indigenous Women and Girls” interactive website.

Walker is from the Okanese First Nation, in Saskatchewan. She currently lives with her family in Toronto.

This talk is presented as part of the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit

As Connie Walker’s hit podcasts, Missing & Murdered—”Who Killed Alberta Williams,” and, “Finding Cleo”—approach the 20 million download mark, we take you behind the stories, into the editorial decision making, and into the struggles behind one of Canada’s most downloaded podcasts. How has the media transformed over the last five years when reporting in Indigenous communities? What is the importance of understanding the role of trauma in our communities in our news and feature stories?

February 13, 2019

7:00pm  to 9:00 pm | Room 100 | Asia Pacific Hall

SFU Centre for Dialogue | 580 West Hastings Street

Admission is free, but reserve your seat through Eventbright


Publishing undergraduate design students exhibition: The Sum of Our Memories

The PUB 431 exhibition explores different facets of memory while investigating the formats of publication and the act of publishing itself, to explore how form and content can affect the experience of reading the material at hand. The exhibition features unique student projects on the theme of memory.

Nostalgic candy will be provided to enhance the experience while supplies last.

Find out more at fb.me/pub431memories

 


Using Online Annotations to Promote Learning

Juan Pablo Alperin (Publishing Program) has been using an online annotation tool to facilitate reading-based discussions in his classes. Now he wants to share the tool with other instructors.
Juan Pablo Alperin (Publishing Program) has been using an online annotation tool to facilitate reading-based discussions in his classes. Now he wants to share the tool with other instructors.

By Mark Bachmann, Teaching and Learning Centre 

“For four years, Juan Pablo Alperin has been using an online annotation tool called Hypothes.is to generate reading-based discussions in his classes. The results have been so positive that this year he applied for a Dewey Fellowship (a teaching and learning–focused position granted by SFU’s Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines) in order to spread the word.

‘I applied for the fellowship because I’m so excited,’ says Alperin, an assistant professor in the Master of Publishing program. ‘I want to use it to get more people to know about this option.'”

Read the full story on the Teaching and Learning Centre blog.


Dr Juan Alperin awarded Open Scholarship Award 2018

The Canadian Social Knowledge Institute has awarded Publishing@SFU’s Dr Juan Alperin their Open Scholarship Award for 2018, in honour of Dr Alperin’s many contributions to open scholarship and open access in his research and long-time contributions to the Public Knowledge Project (PKP).

The PKP blog has a nice write-up on it: https://pkp.sfu.ca/2018/04/16/pkps-juan-pablo-alperin-receives-open-scholarship-award

 

 


Reflections on the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit

We were halfway through the intensive Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit before we realized that we, the Master of Publishing cohort, were the Emerging Leaders.

It was also around this time that our conversations with industry leaders, which took the form of keynote lectures, panel discussions, workshops, and one-on-one mentorship sessions, began to change. At the beginning of the week we talked data, marketing, trends, and growth. But as we began to talk diversity, inclusion, and responsibility, we discussed not just the problems in publishing, but what we can do to make a positive difference.

Discussions centered around how to create space for marginalized groups, the importance of mentorship and support, and ways in which we can make our industry more representative and balanced—both in terms of who works in the industry and what is published. These things matter so much.

“It was intense…it was daunting and overwhelming at times,” said MPub student Jesse Savage. “It was great to have everyone come out and hear everyone’s stories, and gain some perspectives and start conversations. I think after hearing everyone talk, I’m really interested and excited to see how things are going to change…it’s pretty clear that things have to change.”

Industry leaders from a variety of publishing backgrounds (including Simon & Schuster Canada, Penguin Random House Canada, Indigo Books and Music, Rakuten Kobo, Theytus Books, Orca Book Publishers, and a variety of smaller publishing houses), along with academics and authors, also noted the impact the week of listening, discussing, and learning had on them. The deeper conversations have inspired MPub students, external participants, and professionals alike to get back to their important work with a renewed sense of fidelity and responsibility.

As Digital Broadcaster Ryan McMahon said, “We’ve made this connection, and now we’re all going to continue to work together on this conversation, and that’s a really amazing offer by everyone who participated.” McMahon also gave a special public talk on the Wednesday evening, where he problematized Canada’s recent race to Indigenize everything, and challenged people to really think about how thoughtless actions and platitudes will only further harm Indigenous Peoples. He also talked about how we need to be aware of who is in spaces—and who is missing; why the conversation about colonization needs to happen before we talk Indigenization; and why building relationships needs to be at the centre of all we do if change is going to happen.

Much of what he and other guest faculty shared led to the MPub cohort looking at publishing with fresh eyes. We leave with the language to have these hard conversations, a better understanding of what needs to change, and ideas on how we personally can affect change. I hope that moving forward from this week we will continue to not be afraid to ask hard questions, push for better representation in the industry no matter our positions, and break down barriers within the publishing industry.

As promised, the week was one of transformative change and learning.

Faculty guests included: Dave Anderson (Rakuten Kobo), Kristin Cochrane (Penguin Random House), Gregory Younging (Theytus Books), Hazel Millar (Book*hug), Will Ferguson (award-winning author), Noah Genner (BookNet Canada), Kevin Hanson (Simon & Schuster Canada), Robyn Harding(bestselling author), Rania Husseini (Indigo), Jónı́na Kirton (Indigenous author), Ruth Linka (Orca Book Publishers), Janice Lynn Mather (Bahamian author), Nita Pronovost (Simon & Schuster Canada), Felicia Quon (Simon & Schuster Canada).

Next year Emerging Leaders in Publishing will be held February 4-8, 2019 and is open to everyone interested in learning more about the publishing industry in Canada.


Publishing Unbound: Inclusivity and Accountability in Canadian Publishing

This February, Publishing Unbound is coming to Vancouver (February 9-11, 2018). This event came about as a way to bring together authors, activists, scholars, and publishing professionals in Canada to discuss inclusivity and accountability in the publishing industry.

Over the last year or so, many necessary conversations have taken place in the world known as CanLit. We have talked about the structural role racism, sexism, and colonialism play in the publishing industry; now we need to talk about what concrete steps we can take to change this industry for the better.

Publishing Unbound spans two and a half days, organized in conjunction with the Simon Fraser University Publishing Program’s Emerging Leaders Symposium (a weeklong event which fosters connections between MPub students and industry professionals). It begins on Friday, February 9 with en evening of readings and talks open to the public. Registration for this evening is currently full, but there is a waitlist in case of cancellations.

Speakers on the Friday night panel include Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, an Anishnaabe writer of mixed ancestry from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation and founder of Kegedonce Press; David Chariandy, Associate Professor of English literature at Simon Fraser University and 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize winner for his novel Brother (McClelland & Stewart); Jordan Abel, a Nisga’a writer from BC pursuing a PhD at Simon Fraser University and the winner of the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize for his third book, Injun (Talonbooks); and Vivek Shraya, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Calgary, founder of Arsenal Pulp Press’s new VS. Books imprint, and an award-winning artist whose body of work includes several albums, films, and books. The panel will be hosted by Erin Wunker, Assistant Professor of English at Dalhousie University and author of the award-winning Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life (BookThug).

Assistant Professor in Publishing Dr. Hannah McGregor, who was instrumental in organizing Publishing Unbound, said, “The inspiration for [the event] came when I was trying to add readings to the PUB 800 [Text & Context: Publishing in Contemporary Culture seminar class] syllabus. I was new to the [Master of Publishing] program and I wanted more readings on the syllabus that spoke to race, class, gender, disability, and sexuality.”

She put out a call on Twitter, expecting to be inundated with papers and articles and assuming there was lots of work that she just hadn’t heard of.

Instead, she received an underwhelming number of responses and was struck by the realization that there is a significant gap in publishing studies as a field that speaks to the systemic barriers to access in the industry.

McGregor knew that these conversations were happening on Twitter and through other informal channels, and she wanted to find a way to host these important discussions on a more formal platform. After discussions with Heidi Waechtler of Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC), Sylvia Skene of Magazine Association of BC, and Erin Wunker, Publishing Unbound was born.

While the second day and a half of this event consists of closed roundtable workshops (no audience), Publishing Unbound will be disseminating the results of the discussions to the public at a later date.

For those unable to attend the Friday night session, the event will be recorded and shared publicly.