Congratulations to Alex Krilow, a third-year Communications and Publishing student who has won the first-ever Greg Younging Undergraduate Award in Publishing!
The Greg Younging Undergraduate Award was established in honour of Dr. Gregory Younging, who devoted his life advocating for Indigenous publishers, creators, writers, and designers across Canada. This $1000 award is granted annually to an Indigenous undergraduate student enrolled in our minor in Print and Digital Publishing to encourage the training of emerging Indigenous publishers in Canada.
Below is our interview with Alex Krilow, who is the recipient of this year’s award.
1.How do you feel as the first-ever recipient of the Greg Younging Undergraduate Award?
I am very honored to be the first-ever recipient of the Greg Younging Undergraduate Award. Throughout his life, Greg Younging has made incredible contributions in many different spaces such as publishing, the Indigenous community, the art council, public services, federal initiatives, and much more. I am thankful to win an award that has been dedicated to such an amazing man.
2.Why did you apply for the Greg Younging Undergraduate Award and how will it impact you?
I received an email from the Indigenous Student Centre at SFU and applied because I met the qualifications and thought it would be a good opportunity. This award will allow me to concentrate more on my studies and continue school without being stressed about my finances. As well, I hope to attend graduate school in the future, so completing my undergraduate degree without having any debt would be a great foundation.
3.How does Greg Younging inspire you and why is the award meaningful to you?
Seeing how much Greg has accomplished in his lifetime is inspiring because he motivates others like myself to follow in his footsteps and shows us what we can possibly achieve. This award is meaningful to me because much like Greg Younging, I want to support the Indigenous community. Currently, I am working for the Indigenous training program with Canada Border Services Agency, where I help with federal initiatives related to Indigenous studies. I am also volunteering as a social media assistant for the North Fraser Metis Association
4.Why do you think it is important to have more Indigenous voices in the publishing industry?
Throughout history, Indigenous voices have been put on the backburner, and in many situations, our voices have been under shadowed by other prominent figures in society. In the past, many Indigenous voices were suppressed, especially those who attended residential schools. Moving forward, it is so important to have our voices be heard and encourage more Indigenous writers and publishers to tell their own stories. Having more Indigenous voices and acting as a role model for other future Indigenous writers can inspire them to accomplish their own goals.
Recently, our MPub students had the chance to share their Magazine Media projects with industry professionals and classmates of the publishing community. The three teams presented their plans to a panel of industry experts: Jessie Johnson, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Asparagus Magazine; Anicka Quin, Editorial Director of Western Living and Vancouver Magazine; and Tania Lo, CEO & Co-founder of Tandem Innovation Group. The three panelists gave their feedback and advice on the different aspects of the team’s business plans including their mission, audience, competitors, business goals, marketing channels, and sustainability strategy.
The first team was The Modern Local, a digital publication that encourages readers to live local and connect with their neighbourhoods by sharing stories about community issues, arts and culture, and activities. As an online lifestyle magazine for a community-minded generation, their mission is to serve readers exclusively in the tri-cities: Langley, New Westminster, and Maple Ridge. The panelists praised them for their creative tagline, “Find the good life close to home” and for their workshop idea of creating a “best of local” award show to cultivate sponsorships.
Next to present was Spoil, a sumptuous web and print magazine showcasing food and cooking culture from across the world. Spoil is committed to fostering curiosity, connection, empathy, and diversity through a deep and nuanced passion for food. In particular, the panelists were impressed by the team’s chic design and quality of their magazine, noting that it was “delicious to look at.”
Last to present was Sprouts, an accessible hub of trusted information for parents with research-based content that contains actions and activities to help include kids in the conversation about the world we live in. Sprouts aims to curate actions and activities to do together to help kids learn and shape their future. Specifically, Sprouts was applauded for their content creation and audience personas.
The presentations allowed the teams to showcase their months of hard work to the publishing community and a panelist of industry professionals. Thank you to everyone who joined, we are looking forward to seeing you again for next year’s Magazine Media Presentations.
With the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit coming up from February 9-February 12, we had a chance to speak to one of our keynote speaker’s Craig Riggs. As an MPub alumnus and former MPub instructor at SFU, we are excited to have him back to speak with our students! See what he has to say about the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit and get a sneak peek of his presentation on February 11.
1) How does it feel to be back at SFU as a speaker and how has the MPub program helped you with your career today?
It feels great to be back as a speaker! I have always had a strong attachment to the Master of Publishing program, both as an alumnus and also having taught in the program for about four years. It is a pleasure to be back and I’m always happy to contribute in any way I can.
Prior to the Master of Publishing program, I had no experience in the industry. I was looking for a way to transition to a career in publishing and that’s exactly what the MPub program was for me. It was a great way to begin to build a network in the industry and to learn about the different aspects of publishing and the publishing process.
2) Could you tell us what your presentation will be about and what attendees can look forward to?
My presentation will be about direct-to-consumer sales channels and how the landscape is changing in the publishing industry. The focus of the presentation will be on the shift in sales from brick-and-mortar stores to online channels. The session will also look at some of the important changes in book marketing, especially in online spaces. Historically, most book marketing has had a business-to-business orientation, but there is a shift there too and most publishing houses now give a lot more weight to consumer marketing and engaging directly with readers. Attendees can look forward to learning more about the changes in book marketing with respect to the shifts in consumer behaviour and technology.
3) The theme for this year’s conference is about driving change and innovation. As a partner at Turner Riggsand the founder of Readerbound, how do you drive change and innovation in your organizations?
With Readerbound, we were trying to establish a platform that could efficiently produce purpose-built websites for book publishers. The idea is to give publishing houses a toolbox so that their website is more powerful, but also more affordable and easier to manage.
It’s fair to say that book publishing has not always had an easy relationship with new technologies and tools. New systems and tech projects often cost more, in terms of dollars and staff effort, than first expected. The industry is full of examples where publishing organizations run out of either time or budget before their goals are fully realized. Against that backdrop, we think the key to selecting and successfully adopting new technology is to partner with a vendor that offers both industry expertise and technical know-how. That is what we are offering with Readerbound, and we believe that that combination of technological and industry expertise creates a space where innovation happens.
Readerbound has helped some of the industry’s most respected publishers with their websites. Learn more about Readerbound by visiting their website.
4) Who do you think should attend the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit and how can they make the most out of it?
I think anyone in the publishing industry should attend! It’s always exciting coming back as an alumnus and learning new ideas and perspectives. If you are early in your publishing career and looking to build a network and gain insight, an event like this is fantastic. If you have more experience in the industry, you can still learn at events like this. This is a valuable opportunity to learn more about publishing and exchange ideas together. Since we are all working remotely nowadays, it is especially important to get the industry together and share ideas.
Thank you to Craig Riggs for allowing us to conduct an interview with you! Visit his websites to learn more about Readerbound and Turner Riggs.
For more information about the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit, visit our post here.
It’s often said that the pandemic has accelerated changes already underway in business, and that’s proven especially true for book publishing. Even though the industry is often considered slow and not as susceptible to technological change (and print just enjoyed its most robust sales in more than a decade), it’s been a transformative time for the business of books.
In the end, no one will go unaffected—not authors, editors, marketers, or booksellers. Jane will discuss the big-picture changes still unfolding, the questions it raises for the industry, and what to watch for in the months and years ahead.
The confluence of voices, languages, and poetic traditions in Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek’s poetry reflects her sense of belonging and migration across many places. In this wide-ranging conversation, Acholi Canadian poet Okot Bitek will talk about her writing process as a poet, her experiences with publishing in Canada, her collaborative projects with poets and visual artists, and her practice of listening across histories, identities, continents.
The year 2020 will long be remembered for the global Covid 19 pandemic. Lockdowns impacted work spaces as people scrambled to reorganize their work and home lives.
The whole world suddenly seemed to be online and publishers and retailers had to quickly up their game in the virtual space. Ironically, demand for books skyrocketed. Everyone was stuck at home and desperate for ways to pass the time. The 2021 Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit reflects this changed world by going virtual and through discussing the many ways book publishing led innovation and embraced entrepreneurship, as well as the many challenges still left to meet.
As the Master of Publication application deadline fast approaches, we had the chance to interview Olivia Johnson, who is part of this year’s 2020/2021 cohort. Learn more about Olivia Johnson’s publishing experience and don’t forget to apply by February 1!
1) What was your background before applying to SFU’s Master of Publishing Program?
Before I was a student of SFU’s Master of Publishing Program, I majored in English literature at UBC. After graduating, I thought I was going to go into journalism and got accepted into the Ryerson School of Journalism. After one class, I realized that journalism was not a good fit for me. Instead, I switched to the publishing program at Ryerson because I was more interested in the editorial and marketing aspects of publishing. After completing the publishing program at Ryerson, I applied to the Master of Publishing Program at SFU.
2) Why did you choose to apply to SFU’s Master of Publishing Program?
I chose to apply to SFU’s Master of Publishing Program because it is Canada’s only master’s program for publishing. The publishing program at Ryerson was highly informative and interesting, but I wanted a more hands-on publishing experience. SFU’s Master of Publishing Program offers exactly that, where you get the opportunity to go more in-depth and have the chance to do an internship and more collaborative work. Also, SFU’s Master of Publishing Program was back in Vancouver, my home city.
3) What is the most valuable experience from SFU’s Master of Publishing Program so far?
I think the group projects are valuable because you get to take everything you learned in class and create something from start to finish. For example, in one of our projects, we created a business from scratch and learned about all the steps to develop and make the idea tangible.
One of the projects that Olivia worked on with her group was a catalogue for the Fall 2020 Book Project. Olivia’s group was an imprint company of Greystone Books, calling themselves Judith Press. Their catalogue includes all non-fiction titles they came up with and had to sell for their project.
4) What are some skills you have learned from SFU’s Master of Publishing Program so far?
I learned a lot about hands-on design and working with different software such as Adobe to create those designs. I also learned a lot about the different stages such as editing, designing, and business to create the final publication. For each of these stages, it is very in-depth, so you get a chance to figure out what you like. I also find that you can really have your own input in the program. You are definitely not lectured at but taught how to do things and be hands-on. The more effort you put in, the more you learn and take from the program.
5) Upon obtaining your Master’s in publishing, what do you aspire your future career to look like?
SFU’s Master of Publishing Program does a great job at allowing everyone to explore lots of different categories, so you know where your interests lie. For me, since completing the publishing program at Ryerson, I knew that I wanted to work in publishing. Upon obtaining my Master’s in publishing, I can see myself pursuing a career in a marketing or publicity position in literary fiction or nonfiction books.
6) Who do you think should apply to the Master of Publishing Program program?
People who are looking to learn more and become more hands-on in publishing should definitely apply. Publishing is not just about books all the time. You get to learn so many skills that you take onto different careers such as marketing, freelance, editing, and more. If this is something that you want to do, I highly recommend applying.
7) What is your advice for people who are applying to the Master of Publishing Program or considering applying?
I think this is a valuable program because you get to interact with so many industry professionals and receive advice or feedback from them. As well it is such a small cohort, so you get to always work closely with the same people who share the same passion as you. I highly recommend reaching out to the publishing team to ask any questions or concerns you may have because they are super helpful and kind.
I’ve worked in publishing for about 15 years, but every year I’m caught off guard by the January phenomenon of aspiring authors who’ve resolved that this is the year they’re publishing a book. Manuscript submissions and calls about the publishing process become more frequent, as do inquiries about how to get into the industry itself. When we field these calls at the Association of Book Publishers of BC, we direct these individuals to various resources and wish them luck, but in 2021, I’d also suggest they pay close attention to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic when pitching themselves to the industry, whether as an author or a publishing professional.
The year 2020 was tough: at the end of it, BC book publishers were projecting a 30 to 40 per cent decline in their annual sales, in line with what was being reported across the country. While many bookstores were reporting strong sales leading into the holiday season, store closures through the first and second waves continue to impact publishers’ cash flow, forcing difficult decisions about acquisitions, printing, marketing and overall business operations. It’s too early to say if the fourth quarter results of 2020 will indicate a gradual return to normalcy.
Industry consolidation also presents challenges for independent publishers, who invest in new and diverse voices. The pending sale of Simon & Schuster, announced in November 2020, to Bertelsmann/Penguin Random House, will create a behemoth that dominates market share. Books written by established and bestselling authors, and published by well-capitalized multinational companies, have a competitive advantage in a changed marketplace, where booksellers and, in turn, consumers may gravitate toward safer bets. Authors will also find a narrower market for their work, which may mean lower advances.
So where are the opportunities for change in book publishing in 2021 and beyond? The pandemic hasn’t really highlighted how much is possible so much as it has underscored what should have been happening already.
Nothing will replace in-person book events. That said, online events have increased accessibility, and I expect these will continue in a hybrid capacity, even when social gathering restrictions are lifted. Some of the best virtual events I attended in 2020 were those in which the audience could interact via the chat or be present on-camera.
Publishers also got creative, reinvigorating their sales and marketing strategies. They offered higher discounts to independent bookstores, experimented with digital licensing for schools and libraries and creatively engaged readers online. In BC, Orca Book Publishers’ digital class sets, Rocky Mountain Books’ Think Outside podcast and Arsenal Pulp Press’s author Twitter takeovers and @arsenalpups Instagram account are examples of successful adaptations.
Publishers are well-equipped to work from home, and many are meeting their operational needs by hiring more remote staff. While these are still early days, we may observe that publishing begins to decentralize from major urban centres with higher costs of living, better positioning West Coast companies to compete for and retain talent.
I taught in the SFU Master of Publishing program last fall, working with a brilliant cohort of emerging publishing professionals. While they’re understandably anxious about their job prospects, they’ve recognized that their experiences working independently and resourcefully in a remote learning environment are an asset to prospective employers. Up-and-coming authors and publishers alike will need to be comfortable using collaboration tools (not just Zoom!) and to hone their skills as thoughtful and efficient communicators.
Finally, we can’t let the pandemic overshadow our need to grapple with the industry’s diversity problems. Just as the deeply rooted societal inequalities that were further exposed during the crisis will not be undone simply because anti-racist books sold well in 2020, neither will book publishing’s own lack of diversity. There are numerous initiatives underway in Canada to hold the industry accountable for its lack of diversity, and to change who and what gets published, including the BIPOC of Publishing in Canada collective. The pandemic presents a watershed moment for publishers to re-evaluate outdated practices and to expand their communities and their impact.
Whether you are hoping to get published for the first time, move into a career in the industry or stay the course, publishing in 2021 and beyond is going to require more of all of us. I hope we’ll answer the call.
When Vancouver’s public libraries abruptly closed their doors as part of March’s Covid lockdown, my book-addicted family was suddenly forced to go cold turkey. Hallelujah for Little Free Libraries, which have sprouted all over town in the last few years.
As the lockdown dragged on and we all got sick of hearing each other’s audiobooks playing in the next room — who is she talking to? Oh, it’s William Hurt reading Ernest Hemingway / Jack and Annie from the Magic Treehouse / the cats from Warriors — I began taking my kids out on bike tours of the neighbourhood, trawling for good reads.
We slowly learned which libraries had the best pickings and the fastest turnover. Now we have a circuit we follow, a looping trajectory that takes us to five rich reading sources in half an hour. We come home sweaty and elated, showing off the latest discoveries.
Entrepreneur Todd Bol created the first Little Free Library in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009, to celebrate his book-loving mother, who had just died. He carved wood from an old garage door into a mini, one-room schoolhouse, then set it up on a pole in front of his house and filled it with books. Passersby were asked to “Take a book, leave a book,” and they did. The movement, which became a nonprofit in 2012, spread fast; Bol’s original aim was to create 2,510 libraries, more than Andrew Carnegie; there are now more than 100,000, in 91 countries.
One of the many joys of working in publishing is free books. The salaries are pitiful, the wait for that prized promotion eternal — but the people are great and you receive lots of free books, which I’ve always loved to pass on. My mother, an ardent reader like Todd Bol’s mother, has never complained of all the birthday and Christmas presents with “Advance Reading Copy — Not For Sale” stamped on the spine.
Like many book lovers, I grapple endlessly with all the books I haven’t read yet, piling up by my bed and crammed into the bookshelves in every nook of the house. So Covid seemed made for “Take a book, leave a book.” Time to clear out the shelves and give away some great books that I’ve already read, or will never read, or that aren’t, truly, quite as great as the gripping copy on the front flap (which I may have written) claims.
Except I almost always end up taking more books than I leave. And having to find more space in those crammed shelves for more volumes I’ll probably never read.
Little Free Libraries are a fascinating window into the reading habits of your neighbours. A lot of airport reads, naturally: romance, mystery, crime, mostly well-thumbed and ruthlessly discarded. Computer manuals, academic tomes, travel guides, all worth reading once, all surely doomed to
never be re-read. And a surprising amount of CanLit, oversized B-format paperbacks with worthy endorsements, often pristine, i.e., bought with good intentions but never cracked (I ask myself the same question; should I read last year’s Giller shortlist? Really?).
Every trip I stumble upon wonderful books. My first discovery was “The Sisters,” Mary S. Lovell’s fascinating joint biography of the six extraordinary Mitford sisters. Minor aristocrats, the sparkling siblings took 1930s’ British society by storm — until two of them fell in love with Hitler and became pariahs (Diane spent most of the war in prison; Unity shot herself when war was declared). Nancy wrote bestselling comedies of manners that seem Cretaceous today; thank god for Jessica, a lifelong leftie who satirized her adopted home in exposés like The American Way of Death. Six hundred gossipy pages got me through the first month of quarantine.
By the time May rolled around I was deep into Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia and re-reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, with the ITV characters in my head. Marvelling that someone had left Vera Cacciatore’s The Swing — who doesn’t judge a book by its cover? — and trying to believe in Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight. Except that time was now passing very slowly, and I wasn’t finishing any books. Just refining my bookshelves, like that (apocryphal?) purser rearranging the deckchairs on The Titanic.
By the time I stumbled into July all I was good for was Louis L’Amour, “the world’s bestselling Western writer.” I won’t defend him — there’s a PhD on settler colonialism in every pulpy volume — but I do love his author bio, which mentions no awards but 40 million books sold and the fact that “since leaving his native Jamestown, North Dakota, at the age of fifteen, he’s been a longshoreman, lumberjack, elephant handler, hay shocker, flume builder, fruit picker, and an officer on tank destroyers during World War II.” Note to self: publish more ex-elephant handlers. And how do you shock hay — with an elephant?