Literary Event Roundup: Thoughts on BookCamp TO and Word on the Street 2012

Literary Event Roundup: Thoughts on BookCamp TO and Word on the Street 2012

Photo credit: Kasaa via photopin cc.

This is a follow-up to my earlier post about my upcoming plans. I attended two literary events in Toronto this month: BookCamp TO and Word on the Street.

BookCamp TO

This was my first time attending BookCamp, but my understanding is that the format this year differed significantly from that of previous years. This time the event adopted an “un-conference” format, where there was no agenda specified ahead of time – people had to grab open seminar spots as they were available and lead discussions on topics of their own choosing. This led to some pleasant chaos, but I took full advantage of the format by being prepared.

Specifically, I came with talking points and handouts to lead a discussion on a topic that has been near and dear to me for a while – eBook sharing and what effects, if any, DRM has on this phenomenon. I’ve been interviewing people about the topic for a few months, and I collected their responses into a few key talking points. On top of that, I also created an online survey for people to fill out, as well as a brief handout so people could find out how to access the survey and share it with  others.

Hey, did I mention that I’m still looking for more research results? Come on and do what all the cool kids are doing by taking the survey yourself!

The variety of topics was interesting, as people led sessions about being a freelancer, running a small press, promoting yourself on Twitter, and more. However, I think that overall, more structure was necessary; some people reported that sessions that they attended were haphazard, since there weren’t any official Subject Matter Experts in the room.

However, the best thing about BookCamp is the people. It was lovely to meet fellow publishing professionals. There are too many to name, but a few stand out, like Adrienne, Carolyn, Dimitra, Leonicka, Nadia, Natalie, Angel, Sarah, Nic, Max, Jessica, and even my NaNoWriMo buddy Jonathan.

Word on the Street

I’ve attended Word on the Street ever since high school, but this year was the first one where I actually volunteered at it. The weather was awful – cold winds and intermittent rain are not pleasant when wearing nothing more than a long-sleeved shirt under a thin hoodie – but spending time with my comrades at the WCDR and intermittently meeting people from the EAC and from Ryerson more than made up for it. Also, I gifted the extremely gung-ho Marie-Eve for all of her hard work volunteering at the WCDR booth with an ear of freshly-roasted corn.

So, what was the result? I got a ton of books: A lovely limited-edition chapbook sequel to The Steel Seraglio, the first two books in a new series from ChiZine Publications, a short story collection signed by Robert J. Sawyer, and a novel and short story anthology from an independent feminist press. On top of that, my fiance got some books by Toronto micro press The Workhorsery. I haven’t read their books myself, but the idea of a novel written entirely in the second person is intriguing.

Word on the Street is amazing precisely because of this variety. It’s a world where writers, publishers, magazines, and non-profit organizations from different genres and walks of life rub up against each other and form a collective of word- and book-based happiness. When I returned home and curled up under a blanket, with one of my cats sitting on my lap, I felt like one of the coziest, luckiest people in the world.