Michael Harris: Party of One

Michael Harris, AuthorOn Thursday night, Canadian political writer Michael Harris stopped by the Heuther Hotel in Waterloo as part of his cross Canada book tour for his new book, “Party of One.”

Although I’ve begun reading Michael’s book, and it is very well written (I assumed it would be, since his ipolitics articles always are) but I’m not done yet.   The problem, Betsey and I agreed, is that the subject matter is depressing.

While I wasn’t clever enough to bring my copy along to dinner, Betsey was.  And her copy was the hit of the evening.  Michael broke when he saw she has covered over the photo of Mr. Harper on the dust jacket.

On Saturday, Michael will be speaking at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener (the free event is officially all booked, but if you’re really interested, you can check at the door Saturday in case of cancellation.

This leg of the tour is sponsored by Fair Vote Canada – Waterloo Region Chapter and Wordsworth Books.  If you missed him on Saturday, you might be able to catch Michael on Sunday, May 19th, 2015, when he will be speaking in Guelph.

Michael Harris


You’ll find more photos available in my “Party of One” Flickr Album 

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A Party of One

"Party of One" by Michael Harris on the table with penelists Jason Blokhuis and Susan Watson at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall, 2015
“Party of One” by Michael Harris rests on the table with panelists Jason Blokhuis and Susan Watson at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall, 2015

Fair Vote Canada’s Waterloo Region Chapter and Wordsworth Books welcome maverick political journalist Michael Harris to Waterloo Region on April 18th, 2015.

Mr. Harris will be speaking to what will certainly be a sold out crowd at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.  There weren’t many tickets left when I took a peek at the Eventbright site yesterday, so if you want to go, you’d best book yours before they are all gone.  Tickets are free but required to keep attendance within the seating limitation of the venue.

I have not yet read the book, but it came highly recommended by the panel at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall.   I’ll be picking up my copy from one of the event sponsors, Wordsworth Books next time I’m uptown.

Michael Harris Party of One
Fair Vote Canada and WordsWorth Books
Saturday, 18 April 2015
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (EDT)

Book Policy Review

Canadoan flag overlaid with the text title: Canada's Book Policy Review

Between July 20 and September 18, 2010 the Canadian Government accepted submissions for yet another consultation — a book policy review.   Right now Canadians can comment on the submissions until October 31st, then it will be on to “Phase 3: Roundtable discussions will be held in the coming months.”

I get most of my news online but the first I heard of it was in Michael Geist‘s blog last night.   Since this is a Department of Heritage consultation, I assume the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages probably “tweeted” about this on Twitter, but I can’t say for sure since @mpjamesmoore has blocked me (and other Canadian citizens) from following his Twitter tweets.

I don’t know how this public consultation was promoted or even if it was.   Maybe after the Copyright Consultation where most submissions gave opinions the government didn’t want to hear and the Digital Economy Consultation’s Long Form Census debacle, the Honourable James Moore prefers low profile “public consultations.”

Since I am working to Self Publish my debut novel “Inconstant Moon” as well as outlining my next (which I intend to write during NaNoWriMo) I don’t have time to even read all the consultation submissions right now.   For that matter, I don’t have time to write this.   But it was important so I’ve read some of them.

The Submissions

“Canadians are avid readers.   Recent research shows that Canadians spend at least six hours per week reading books for leisure and interest, while 85% of Canadians link reading to improved quality of life.”

Investing in the Future of Canadian Books: Review of the Revised Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution – PART I: INTRODUCTION

Because of the very low profile, there was very little response, unlike, say, the Copyright Consultation.   In spite of the fact that Canada is clearly a nation of readers, only a single “reader” made a a submission.   Running the numbers there were submissions from:

  • 20 Publishers and/or Distributors
  • 10 Industry Associations (I’ve included the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois here since it is a submission made by a union of writers)
  • 9 “Others”, organizations and individuals who may or may not fit in some of the listed categories
  • 3 retailers including Amazon, Chapters/Indigo and Association des libraires du Québec
  • 1 reader
  • 1 writer
  • —————————-
    44 Submissions Total

I was surprised not to see any submissions from Independent retailers, either.   Amazon.ca made some excellent points.

Consultation Question 7. Are there any new or emerging issues in the book industry, including those mentioned in the discussion paper, that are not sufficiently addressed by the current policy? If so, how should a modernized policy respond to these?
amazon.ca logo
Amazon.ca answer:
We agree with views expressed in the Discussion Paper that great change in the industry has come from the increased role of digital technology.   As evidenced by our own operations, the emergence of digital technology has introduced significant new creative developments and improvements in the distribution and sale of books.

In particular, new and emerging digital technologies have enabled different models of book publishing and distribution, such as print-on-demand and electronic books. The print-on-demand publishing model allows publishers to reduce costs by printing only in response to demand, to keep low-volume titles in print and available virtually forever, with very little cost, and to publish a broader variety of titles with less financial risk.

Additionally, when combined with a self-publishing platform, print-on-demand enables the wide distribution of relatively unknown authors who may otherwise entirely lack distribution.   The introduction and growth of digital content through such devices as Amazon’s own Kindle e-reader has created new opportunities for authors, publishers and distributors.   In light of our experience, we believe revisions to the Policy must take into account the significant role such technology plays today and will play in the future of the Canadian book industry.

Digital technology has effectively eroded many of the problems that the current policy seeks to address.   With the advances in technology, the choices available to Canadian authors, publishers and consumers are no longer local or national but global.   As stated by the Competition Policy Review Panel in its Report, “a country’s competitiveness depends on governments welcoming, rather than seeking to control, the new freedom of choices brought by the Internet as an agent of change.”   We believe that the Government should ensure that its policies remain responsive to changes in this industry.   The growing presence of the Internet, the significance of electronic books and the new channels for publishing and distributing books are important changes that emerged after the Policy was last revised in 1992.   We believe it is therefore necessary to update the Policy to account for these changes and remove the restrictions in the current Policy that seek to limit foreign investment in a digital age.

Submission from: Amazon.com.ca, Inc.

print on demand

“Before the law was brought in to restrict retailers to sourcing books from Canadian sources, orders could be sourced from Ingram Distributing in the US within 3 days where an order in Canada takes multiple weeks in most cases.”
Submission from: bookworm

The single Canadian writer to manage a submission was Wayne Kehl who addresses the P.O.D. issue and a few others in a submission I wholly agree with.   Wayne Kelh makes a lot of sense.   He also provides a bit of information that is actually pretty staggering:

The book-world has moved to Print on Demand publishing and even Canadian publishers have most of their books published in that format by Lightning Source Printing in the United States.”

Submission from: Wayne Kehl

If I had Made A Submission….

I would have done so as a consumer, a writer, and a self-publisher.

I might have mentioned some important facts gleaned from the Investing in the Future of Canadian Books position paper, Review of the Revised Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution PART III: BOOK POLICY FRAMEWORK, such as “Currently, Canadian-owned publishers represent 96% of publishers operating in the domestic market” or that “Large multinational publishing houses represent 3.75% of the publishers operating in Canada, and generate 44% of industry revenues.”

But right now, my focus would clearly be on:

self publishing

Since I am working to self publish my debut novel “Inconstant Moon” (while outlining my next which I intend to write during NaNoWriMo) I don’t have time to even read all the consultation submissions right now.   For that matter, I don’t have time to write this.

Aside from the fact that I’ve always been a reader, this issue holds particular interest for me as a writer  as I’m about to self publish my debut novel, Inconstant Moon.   Just now I’m at the point of making final corrections to the proof, and when it’s ready, I will be uploading it to CreateSpace.   At that point I’ll be able to sell it as a Print On Demand (P.O.D.) book through Amazon.com.

reading the proof copy

It is rather irritating that although I am a Canadian writer, I will not be able to sell my novel through Amazon.ca as a P.O.D. book.   As I understand it, Canadian Government policy dictates that before I can sell my Canadian novel through Amazon.ca I would first have to provide inventory.   To my way of thinking that defeats the point of P.O.D.

This policy probably exists to “protect the Canadian Publishing Industry”, in this case specifically the printer/distributors.   It doesn’t do much to encourage Canadians to self publish.   Every Canadian grown option for self publishing P.O.D. requires a substantial cash outlay up front.   This policy may also help Canadian publishers by suppressing the ability of writers choosing to self publish independently.   This type of policy may have been effective in pre-Internet times, but today it negates the benefits to publishing that P.O.D. provides.

P.O.D. and digital distribution of literature are two new ways of publishing that the Canadian government must support if our book industry is to “remain current, effective, and responsive to a changing world.”

These are issues of grave importance to all Canadian authors and consumers, yet we have been seriously underrepresented in this public consultation.

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p.s. Of utmost importance to Canadian publishing is the Copyright reform: Bill C-32

The most pressing issue in the Canadian book world is the tabled Bill C-32.   Again, as a self publisher reliant on digital promotion and distribution methods, changes to Canadian copyright law like Bill C-32 pose an incredible danger to all types of digital production and distribution by making DRM circumvention illegal, when in fact it would be more reasonable for the government to make external DRM warning labels mandatory for any media or device encumbered with it.   Making DRM “sacrosanct” in copyright law would undoubtedly lead to universal application of DRM on all devices and media sold in the Canadian Market.

This kind of control could very easily be used to prevent the Independent production of digital work.   But that’s another issue for another day.

[I intend for this to be my last Oh! Canada post until December, as I plan to devote all of November to NaNoWriMo. Fingers crossed. 😀 —Laurel L. Russwurm]


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Must Read

[I’m working Hard to get my debut novel launched (this month!) and writing the first draft to my next in NaNoWriMo, so I hope to reduce my blogging. I will, however, try to keep an ear to the ground and keep you posted, particularly as Bill C-32 still appears to be on the table in spite of universal opposition from citizens (except for the corporate special interest groups it who it was drafted to appease.) —Laurel L. Russwurm]

red maple leaf graphicLast week the University of Ottawa’s Michael Geist, an internationally regarded authority on Internet and technology law, was the recipient of a Public Knowledge IP3 Award.

Professor Geist’s blog is probably the primary source of information regarding Canadian copyright issues. He also has a Twitter Feed for breaking news.

Because Copyright issues that will be covered by Bill C-32 are so incredibly important both for Canada’s economic and cultural future, Michael Geist has edited a new book dedicated to the subject, with chapters written by Canada’s top legal lights in the copyright field.

This week, Canadian legal publisher Irwin Law released a new book entitled From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, edited by University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist. The entire book can be downloaded, chapter by chapter. “The latest chapter in the Canadian copyright saga unfolded in June 2010 as Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage James Moore tabled Bill C-32, copyright reform legislation billed as providing both balance and a much-needed modernization of the law.

Library Boy “New Canadian Copyright Law Book Available Free for Download”

cover art

If you want to purchase a physical copy or download it LEGALLY for free (it’s published under a Creative Commons License), you will find

From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”:
Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda

at the Irvin Law Books Website.

Canadian DMCA

Either way, this book is a must read.

If Bill C-32, also known as the “Canadian DMCA,” were to become law as written, the direct result would be that Michael Geist and Irwin Law would have been prevented from releasing this book as a free digital download under a creative commons license.

Because if it becomes illegal to circumvent digital locks (DRM/TPM) for non-infringing uses, every digital device from the Internet to eBook readers will be locked down, overriding the rights of creators to release their work for digital distribution as they see fit.

Geist speaking on Fair Copyright at the University of 2008

If that happens, copyright will no longer serve its supposed function as a tool for creators.

Tell your MP that you do not support Bill C-32.

Michael Geist also has a dedicated copyright public service blog Speak out on Copyright, as well as establishing a FaceBook Fair Copyright page.

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Image Credit:
Michael Geist, University of Calgary, 2008 – photo by D’Arcy Norman