Wednesday, December 23, 2009

eBook Piracy interview

On November 30, The Spark on CBC Radio 1 interviewed Gabriella Coleman, an associate professor at New York University. She believes that online book piracy will shake up the traditional book business and what smart publishers can do to combat it. Click here for the full interview.

Also, there is an article on the website entitled "Electronic Textbooks: Set to take over?" and CSC's own Mark Lefebvre in quoted in it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Suggestions For Holiday Gifts

Last week the folks from the McMaster Daily News came into Titles Bookstore with a camera and asked what book I'd recommend for holiday gift giving. I went with one fiction title and one non-fiction title both of which I believe would appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.

See video below, which not only includes my two selections, but great selections from McMaster University's Lorraine York, Professor of English and Cultural Studies and Associate University Librarian Vivian Lewis.

I selected these books for the following reason.

Lawrence Hill's THE BOOK OF NEGROES (Illustrated Edition)

This phenomenal story about one woman's life experience living through the slave trade is beautifully written and one that sticks with the reader long after reading. This is a great selection for a number of reasons. First, just on its own, it's a fantastic novel. Second, if you know someone who has already read the novel, this makes a great gift because the illustrated edition adds a whole new way for the reader to enjoy the novel. Because it includes much of the artwork that inspired Hill when he was researching for the writing of the novel, the additional layer of historical references are perfect. This new presentation of the novel would also be appealing for the history buff.


Everyone is connected. Everyone is talking about new media and social networking. But there are a lot of people out there who don't understand what it's all about nor how it can be used for the greater good. Joel introduces the worlds of social networking (such things as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs and podcasting) in easy to understand layperson's terms then runs through various examples of how this interconnectedness can help benefit a person, brand or business. Though written with a business reader's perspective in mind, Joel's approach is one that can easily be appreciated by someone simply wanting to understand more about the digital world. And the cool thing is that once you finish reading it, you can continue to enjoy learning more from Joel's blog or podcast in which he continues to advance knowledge and resources in these areas.

What two books would YOU suggest make great gifts this holiday season?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CSC Advisory: Debit/Credit card voluntary code code of conduct

On November 19, the Minister of Finance announced a proposed voluntary code of conduct governing debit and credit cards. It’s now open for public consultations. More information, including the press release and background information, is below. The focus of the agreement includes:

  • Ensuring that merchants are fully aware of the costs associated with accepting credit and debit card payments.
  • Providing merchants with increased pricing flexibility to encourage consumers to choose the lowest-cost payment option.
  • Allowing merchants to freely choose which payment options they will accept.

As you probably are aware, changes in the debit/credit card industry have created a situation where merchants pay a variety of different fees on the cards, and often the only time that they actually find out is when they get the bill in the mail. Criticism of this from retail groups has helped gestate this.

CSC will be making a submission in this public consultation process. Members will be advised when the document is available on the CSC site.

Government press release is here:

Backgrounder is here:

Brief globe story is here:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The EU and Digital Book Copyright

Below is a link to an article on that states the EU

"... will deal with the copyright aspects of digital publishing in the context of a new strategy on intellectual property rights in 2010."

click here to see the full article

Campus Chills

As if bookselling on campus isn't chilling enough in these times of dramatic change where everybody is wondering about the state of publishing, the viability of the printed textbook and emerging digital technologies . . .

But this time, the chills are fiction -- imaginitive tales born from the dark corners of campuses across Canada.

The time, it's a general interest book designed exclusively by campus bookstores and launching at four of them.

Campus Chills, premiering October 22, 2009 (just in time for Halloween) is an anthology of thirteen original tales of terror set on Canadian campuses and written by authors from across the country. The bookstores at University of Alberta, McMaster Univeristy and University of Waterloo joined forces to solicit fiction from some of the finest Canadian speculative fiction writers and have produced the trade paperback book on their Espresso Book Machines.

Including fiction by Kelley Armstrong, Julie E. Czerneda, Kimberly Foottit, James Alan Gardner, Sephera Giron, Michael Kelly, Nancy Kilpatrick, Susie Moloney, Douglas Smith, Brit Trogen, Edo van Belkom, Steve Vernon and Carol Weekes, this original anthology is edited by Mark Leslie and introduced by Robert J. Sawyer.

The book is being launched at four campus stores on the same day.

On October 22, 2009, author Steve Vernon will appear at a lunchtime reading and book signing at Dalhousie University bookstore in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Then, mid afternoon in Edmonton, Alberta, Susie Moloney and Brit Trogen will appear at the University of Alberta bookstore for a reading, signing and Halloween-themed event. Beginning at 7PM in Hamilton, Ontario, Titles Bookstore McMaster University will host Kelley Armstrong, Kimberly Foottit, Sephera Giron, Michael Kelly and Edo van Belkom for a reading and signing combined with free guided ghost walks of the McMaster campus. And at 9 PM in Waterloo, Ontario, Waterloo Alumni authors Julie E. Czerneda, James Alan Gardner and Douglas Smith will meet registrants at the bookstore then lead them to a special secret location to haunt them with readings of their work.

11 of the 13 contributors will be at four locations in three provinces for this exclusive launch, which is something that has never been done before. What has also never been done before is the collaborative effort between 3 campus bookstores to produce a professionally authored general interest/trade book.

You can't get this book at WalMart, or Costco or Amazon.

If you want to get this book in time for Halloween, you need to get to your local campus bookstore to get one. The book is currently available at five campus bookstores -- the ones mentioned above as well as the Algonquin College bookstore in Ottawa (and the list continues to grow -- check out the following website for updates and links on where to buy it -- Where to buy Campus Chills)

Campus bookstores who are interested in carrying the book can order it from University of Alberta, McMaster or Waterloo bookstores. Check out the Campus Chills website for more information.

For a peek, check out the video book trailer . . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

CourseSmart Application for iPhone

CourseSmart, has just released its first iPhone application, allowing students to download etextbooks to their iPhone.

An important note, though, is that while the CourseSmart etextbook version is typically cheaper than the hard copy textbook, the "e" version expires after 180 days.

On the plus side, there's something wonderful about the instant nature of acquiring the etextbook in this manner.

But on the flip side, there's something unsettling about the almost "instant" nature of losing the etextbook purchased in this manner.

To ensure students get the most residual value (ie, ability to hold onto for later use, or re-sell) for their textbooks, it would be wise to remind them of the existence of the expiration date so that they can make an informed decision when deciding which textbook version to buy.

More info listed here on ReadWriteWeb:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bookstore Blogging

Are you thinking about starting up a blog for your store (or perhaps improving an existing one that you have let go "stale"?)

Check out video interview with Dustin at McNally Jackson in NY talking about their The Common Reader blog. Three simple questions -- three simple answers.

(Direct link to YouTube video)

The POV that this interview and blog takes is that of a general interest bookstore. Thus, it's a useful tool for those campus stores with a general/trade book section.

But you might also consider how you might adapt the same principles here into your campus store blog to incorporate textbooks, giftware, computer accessories, etc. IE, "Staff picks" work in most product categories, not just general books.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Book VS Kindle

If your campus store offers USED TEXTBOOKS to help save students money on the continually rising cost of textbooks, you'll likely get a huge kick out of the following video.

Yes, the video is a bit longer than it needs to be to make the point, but it does make an interesting point.

While ebooks have a huge advantage in being able to allow you to carry a huge volume of books in a single portable device (either a dedicated reader or your smart phone of choice), the residual value and the consumer's ability to loan, re-sell or give-away the hard copy "dead tree" version of the book still has some distinct advantages.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Liquid Textbooks: Coursepacks in a Web 2.0 Digital World?

Symtext is a start-up company based in Toronto that is promoting Liquid Textbooks.

This is how they describe Liquid Textbooks to academics (excerpt from their site):

By comparison, Symtext enables you to teach better courses by assembling best of breed digital content from multiple publishers into dynamic, continuously evolving "Liquid Textbooks", thus ensuring the highest possible quality content for students. Unlike traditional materials, Liquid Textbooks include not only traditional content like chapters, cases and articles, but podcasts, videos, presentations - curated Flickr feeds - data files, and many other types of digital files. (We'll clear the rights and do the work to make sure your students gain access to your Liquid Textbook through your School's Learning Management System.)

Web 2.0 approaches to digital content, such as this effort, may eclipse the focus on static digital textbooks (i.e. digital versions of hardcopy textbooks) sooner rather than later.

Digital initiatives, whether applications or hardware, are emerging and evolving at a increasingly quicker pace. Where it is going to end up, nobody knows at this point. But we can't wait until the dust settles. Campus stores need to quicken efforts to adapt to the digital future, and a changing role within that future.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

E-reader devices: The fun is just starting

This is an excellent update on what is happening with e-readers.

E-reader devices: The fun is just starting Between the Lines

In particular, this was interesting:

The key element player in the market—and driving down the price will be China.
Consider the textbook tipping point:
The textbook tipping point won’t come
from Harvard, MIT,or even Stanford: We think it will come from developing
nations like China and India, whose universities will use technology
to leapfrog ahead of Western counterparts. China especially is already a
fast-growing market for eReaders like Jinke Electronics’ HanLin eBook,
which sells for US$299 and includes 600 free books. We expect the textbook
eReader market to start this year with modest sales of content
through the Kindle DX, with greater adoption starting in 2011 and reaching
more sizable numbers by 2013.

Friday, June 5, 2009

University of Saskatchewan Bookstore begins renovations

This is the first post of a series that will follow the renovations to the Bookstore at the University of Saskatchewan. As you can see in the above picture, these shelves have been emptied and will soon be moved out. The area shown here will be gutted and redesigned into a more modern and efficient retail space.
Renovations will take place now through till mid December. The plan is to renovate our main cash out area, some offices and retail space for clothing, art supplies and stationery from now till mid August. Work will then be put on hold till the end of September when we renovate the book selling floor and the rest of the offices. The Bookstore will remain open during the renovations.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kindle DX poses profitability challenge to publishers

An article in Information Week Canada discusses how the Kindle DX could cause profitability problems for textbook publishers. Its interesting how these discussions parallel similar discussions about the music industry when the iPod was introduced. This article also touches on the "green" aspect of ebook reader devices. We have focused a lot of time talking about the competing business cases of digital vs. traditional publishing, but some universities may be looking at how not publishing paper textbooks will help the environment.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

E-textbooks vs. Kindle DX: What will college kids pick?

A recent article in Crave, a blog from cnet magazine, discusses the benefits of laptops and netbooks over the Kindle DX. I think this adds credence to my statement in an earlier blog that Apple may be developing a device that is both a tablet PC (a laptop that recognizes handwriting and has a keyboard) and ebook reader. By and large, laptop use among university students has grown organically. There have been some high profile universities, such as The University of North Carolina, that have been successful in requiring their students to buy laptops; but, by and large, students have realized on their own the gains in productivity they could gain from having a laptop. I'm not saying that the Amazon Kindle DX will fail because some schools tell their students they need to use them, I'm saying that students will use the device that best suits their purpose.

How the iPod changed everything! is becoming a very good source for information about the digital world. When you go to, you'll notice a Technology tab towards the top of the page. There is a very interesting video documentary titled The Decade the Music Died. It is interesting because it features Sam the Record Man discussing what the downloading of music has done to his retail business. I think the two main lessons to be learned from this video are: (1) Don't stick your head in the sand and pretend the changes toward digital aren't happening; and, (2) Publishers will not necessarily partner with bookstores on digital books. Remember what's happened to Sam the Record Man!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Expresso Book Machine at Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is getting an Expresso Book Machine to join McMaster and University of Alberta (the first in a campus store).

Read about it at:

Other Campus Store Blogs Worth Following

We have included two other blogs in our Campus Links section of Campus Store Central (see below bottom right).

Mark Nelson's blog will be useful for those wanting to stay up-to-date on digital developments. Paula Haerr's blog will interest GM buyers.

If you have another blog specifically of interest to campus stores, please add a comment to this post.

Free On-Line Training Videos for Retailers

The Gift and Home Channel has an extensive range of free on-line videos covering a comprehensive list of retail topics. Topics are often covered over a number of videos so viewers can cover a topic in one setting or, more likely, over a number of viewings. Also included in their training collection are retail training videos from the Canadian Gift and Tableware Association.

Students Skeptical Kindle DX Can Replace Paper Chase

This article appeared in and talks about why some students think the new Kindle DX will not replace paper textbooks. Personally, I agree with the student who said students already have a laptop and don't want to be carrying another device. There are rumors Apple will introduce a device much like a tablet PC in which the user can write notes by hand or with a keyboard with the added feature of being an ebook reader. This kind of device would be very popular with students because it can be used to do everything a laptop does, plus be an ebook reader. Apple also has a very strong distribution model with iTunes. It should be very interesting as Apple and Amazon fight each other for market share.

Friday, May 8, 2009

University of Saskatchewan Opens New On-Line Bookstore

The University of Saskatchewan Bookstore has opened a new online bookstore.

This online store differs from a lot of other university online stores because not only can students search for and purchase textbooks, customers will also be able to search by author and title. The aim is to sell more textbooks, but also more general and reference books.

Future versions of this online store will include clothing and giftware and the ability for students to authenticate using a username and password and have all their textbooks displayed.

This online store also gives the UofS Bookstore the ability to sell digital books, since most digital books will be sold over the internet.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Amazon to Launch Kindle for Textbooks

The Wall Street Journal has reported in an article that Amazon plans today to introduce a new larger screen Kindle ebook reader aimed at students. The article goes on to say that Amazon has worked out agreements with several textbook publishers as well as six universities that will participate in a Kindle pilot beginning this fall.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Critter Cleaners

We discovered these fun little animal desktop cleaners made by Elecom on the AudioCubes website recently and instantly new they'd be a big hit with the youth market. The nylon dusters are great for getting between the keys on your keyboard, while the wool dusters are safe for your screen. There are also padded cloth erasers which work as a general purpose cleaning tool.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Piggy Banks for Cool Kids

Somewhere between the mid 70s and the late 90s, piggy banks somehow managed to transform themselves from cutesy objects for kids to cool collectibles for young adults. We're not quite sure who is responsible for said transformation (was it famed Canadian Karim Rasid? Designer-Darling Jonathan Adler?), but we're not complaining. Not Neutral, a multi-discipline design firm based in Los Angeles, has created some very affordable piglets worth dropping your coinage into.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cheaper Parking for Eco Friendly Cars

This was blogged about on the SpringWise website - a site that talks mostly about new and inventive business ideas for entrepreneurial minds - and we instantly thought about what a great initiative it would make for colleges and universities. Reward students with eco-vehicles with 1/2 price parking. See the clipped image above for the full idea (just click on the image to view larger so you can read the text). In Los Angeles, we have also seen parking lots where eco-vehicles get the premium spots, (those that would be closest to the faculty buildings), typically next to the handicap spaces. University of Manitoba students would give their right arms for that!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Six Projects to Change Publishing for the Better

Here is Michael Tamblyn's presentation of 6 Things That Could Change Publishing for the Better, which was presented at the BookNet Canada Tech Forum 2009 in Toronto on March 12, 2009. Michael is the CEO of BookNet Canada.

Yes, there are things unique to campus stores that might not apply, but there is a lot of cross-over information usefulo campus booksellers in this presentation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Knock Knock newbies

Knock Knock is one of those companies that really, truly gets consumers. Their humor-filled note pads, checklists, and door hangers let you channel both your inner obsessive-compulsive over-organized self AND your sarcastic pessimistic self at the same time. Since most students fall into one or both of those categories, it's understandable why Knock Knock products keep growing in popularity. Above are some of the brand's new releases we're pretty crazy for...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Three by Three

Three by Three in Seattle used to be known for their vast array of super-mini "Mighty Magnets" with uncanny magnetic power. It seems like overnight they've expanded their collection of offerings to include a number of other great items perfect for students. Our favorites include the magnetic boards and strips with REAL wood finish, the magnetic hooks (with signature uncanny staying power - see their site for the photo of one holding a cast iron frying pan!) and super cute ShapeUp bookmarks (sorry, no magnets here).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Good Type of Bundling

In this instance, bundling of e-books refers to getting a variety of formats so it does not matter what reader device is being used:

An Argument for Open Publishing

An interesting video interview with a leading proponent of open publishing.... from on Vimeo.

Awaiting an I-Pod for Books?

Another interesting read...

Digital Future is Confusing and Inspirational

This is a very interesting commentary on the impact of the Google settlement on digital publishing:

"How these rights will be secured and exploited by Google or someone else should keep the lawyers and the visionaries busy for some time. In fact, Rosenblatt says that it will probably take as long as two years just to get the BRR up and running to service the initial business models, let alone the aspirational ones. Rosenblatt and Kreisa say the future business model will require publishers to restructure their content in ways most of them don’t do at present. How do you secure and define the rights to set up a custom-publishing service that combines content from different publishers? What about textbooks with a multiplicityof content—photos, text, art and charts? Dealing with multiple publishers can be difficult enough, but what about out-of-print titles whose rights have reverted to the author—will aggregators need to negotiate with every single author? “It will be very complex,” says Rosenblatt."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lunches & Laptops

We've been big fans of Built NY ever since they launched with one simple (but clever) thermal lunch bag. Fast forward to 6 years later and they now have a whole range of quirky yet brilliant lunch bags, bottle totes, laptop cases, and sleeves at very affordable prices. What's not to love??

Saturday, March 28, 2009

FreeAgent by Seagate

The FreeAgent hard drive by SeaGate seamlessly merges style and function. With its own docking station (to connect, simply pop it on the dock) and a wide range of colors and capacities (250GB, 320 GB, and 500GB versions) this is the only external drive you may ever need. It even automatically backs up all files and has a password encryption, but is unfortunately only compatible with windows.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AA Gym Bags

Sure, we admit that most students use backpacks for pretty much everything. Bag #2 on the typical student's must-have list is typically the carry-all gym bag, and luckily American Apparel offers them in all sizes and amazing fashion-forward colors. So plain they practically beg for a university logo or personalized graphic, they should be a staple offering.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quirky items from Decor Craft Inc

Decor Craft Inc is one of those companies that makes loads of cute & humorous products to use around the home or office. We have scoped their product offerings from A - Z, here are some of our favorites for students (see photos above):

PAPER paperclips. How smart is that? Made of pressed paper, they are 100% recyclable. Saves you having to remove the staples and metal paperclips from any paperwork before tossing it in the recycling.

Boulder Blocks. A great mind escape in between assignments...

EarBuds with Humor. Now that earbuds are being decorated to look like everything from jewelry to toys, these ones seem like the perfect middle ground.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


British eco brand Remarkable has come out with some great pieces for students with a conscience. They make everything from non-toxic markers to recycled notepads and rulers, but our favorites are the stationery and pencil cases made from recycled rubber.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stylish Noteblocks by Snow & Graham

Snow & Graham is a stationery company from Chicago that really understands how to entice consumers. Like the "Location! Location! Location!" cry of the real estate world, the cry of stationery companies everywhere should be "Prints! Prints! Prints!" The creative minds at S&G have some of the most beautiful prints we've seen on paper products in a long time - so fresh, so contemporary - they are perfect for what the company describes as "modern communiqué".

We particularly adore their Noteblocks, in both large and mini sizes. How better to dress up your desk?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Handbag hooks are cool again

Unless you spent a significant amount of time with your grandmother growing up (a fashionable grandmother at that), you probably won't know what handbag hooks are. They seemed to disappear around the same time as sweater sets and Brylcreem.
That's why we were very surprised when one of our junior staffers enthusiastically returned from a lunch date last week with one in her hand.

Handbag hooks are cute little metal hooks that fashionably keep your handbag from sitting on a dirty floor when you're out to lunch, studying in a library, or working on a project in class. Simply hook the straps of your handbag on the lower hook portion, then rest the stylish little head on any table surface, and voila!

We think they're set for a comeback, and a number of websites think so too. Above are some examples from SilverHooks, an Ohio based website.

Feel free to also check out The Purse Hook, and My Bag Hanger (from the UK).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

KOR ONE Hydration Vessel

When presenting the Green Report seminar on the evolving green consumer and their purchasing motivations at the CSC show in February 08, I recall a few buyers concerned with which plastics to avoid when buying water bottles and coffee mugs. While mug manufacturers scramble to change their products to more chemical-free solutions, the folks at KOR have launched arguably the greenest and most beautiful water bottle on the market.

The KOR ONE Hydration Vessel is BPA free, dishwasher safe, and made in Mexico. It's also recyclable, although I'm not sure who would choose to recycle this beautiful bottle. The hinge cap that will never go missing also doubles as a carry handle, and the generous sized mouth makes drinking feel civilized! A favorite design feature among fans is the message space for your personal mantra on the inside roof of the cap - interchangeable to your hearts delight. Kor provides a few messages for you (built into the enviro-thoughtful packaging) which they call "stones", and even provide a blank stone for you to create your own message.

Retailing at $29.95, they are pricier than the typical water bottle, but so much better for the environment and your personal health. Kor is a proud member of 1% For the Planet and is looking for wholesalers...(side business anyone?)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ferm Living Wallstickers

As wallstickers continue to grow in popularity (many are removable peel & stick varieties - perfect for students), the designs get better and better. Ferm Living, a San Francisco brand well-known for fashion-forward throw pillows and wallpapers, has a clever & pretty collection of wallstickers at very reasonable prices. Above are some of our favorites....for those of you who may remember our seminar in 2008, we had three main trend categories which discussed basic & simplified graphics, nature inspired graphics, and fashion-baroque graphics. There's a bit of all three here...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Winnipeg's own Botanical Paperworks

We've mentioned seed paper in the past, but when we stumbled across Botanical Paperworks out of Winnipeg, we knew we had found seed paper heaven. We're big fans of their cleanly-designed greeting cards - once planted, they certainly qualify as the gift that keeps on giving! We also love the Write & Grow journals!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tattoo art for CSC from last year's forecast

I just read Mark's post regarding Paula Herr's presentation (Connect2One) at the CSC show and noted that she called out Tattoo Prints on hoodies. For those of you who remember the CRU forecast from last year's presentation, we mentioned that we foresaw tattoo & grafitti prints gaining in importance for fall 08 and had even created an exclusive tattoo print for members of CSC to use at will (above).

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