“Mediocrity stamped London fetches more than talent stamped provincial.” — Thomas Hardy, The Hand of Ethelberta
BCBookLook was envisioned in 2012, designed in 2013 and launched in 2014. By April of 2017, the site had generated more than 2,000 original postings, at a rate easily eclipsing two new posts per day.
As will be apparent to anyone who spends five minutes grazing the site, it’s a news service that presents original articles, reviews and news on events, films, videos and audio interviews, as well as a BCBookAwards information hub (on B.C. literary prizes) and the enormous Literary Map of B.C. As well, this site provides electronic access to the B.C. BookWorld newspaper, including back issues, and it’s linked to the ABCBookWorld reference site that affords free literary information for and about more than 11,500 B.C. authors.
Plus it’s home to the new Ormsby Review, a new venture to double the number of serious book reviews in British Columbia. As a pilot project started in mid-September of 2016, we have launched The Ormsby Review, with Richard Mackie, former reviews editor of BC Studies, to radically increase the depth of coverage for books and essays pertaining to British Columbia. Staff worked without remuneration for one year to get the venture off the ground by proving its viabilty. ABCBookWorld was likewise built entirely on volunteer labour from 2001 to 2014.
Overall, we like to err on the side of content. Or put another way: We don’t cut ‘n’ paste stuff from other websites; we make the content that other websites cut ‘n’ paste. Similar to the B.C. BookWorld newspaper that began in 1987, our goal on the internet is to provide as much useful information as possible, about as many B.C. books and authors as possible, to as many people as possible, on a daily basis. Together, the BCBookLook news service and the ABCBookWorld reference service now serve serve more than 4,000 visitors per day (stats available).
The readership of the newspaper called B.C. BookWorld is different, and so is its content. There is absolutely no plan to discontinue the newspaper because it is as popular as ever. It was expanded in 2015 to 44 pages per issue and remains that size. We believe the hard copy newspaper, available via more than 650 outlets around B.C., still triumphs as the most important cog in the infrastructure that supports B.C. publishers and authors.
Simon Fraser University Library serves as the essential host for the aforementioned digital platforms. We remain grateful to SFU Library’s Lynn Copeland for giving us the green light on the original ABCBookWorld project in 2003, followed by her successor at SFU Library, Chuck Eckman; now capably followed by his successor, Gwen Bird. Siavish Miri of SFU Library re-engineered the ABCBookWorld site for us in 2008 after Todd Holbrook had laid the technical foundations for our original BC Author Bank in 2003. The site was “re-simplified” with the assistance of Martin Twigg and Andre Liem in 2009. It has been undergoing another refit in 2016-2017.
The implementation process for BCBookLook was similarly collaborative and pleasant, starting with the collective input of Monique Sherrett of Boxcar Marketing and her students at the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing (Rowland Lorimer, director). Subsequently, Christine Rondeau of Bluelime Media and SFU programmer Marcus Barnes worked in concert with designer David Lester and Get To The Point Graphics, and Sharon Jackson of Jackson on The Moon.
I am most indebted to my colleague David Lester with whom I’ve worked continuously since January of 1988. Some of the personnel responsible for providing content and administration have included Writer/Editor Sophie Blom, Writer/Editor Angela Caravan, Writer/Editor David Conn; Contributing Editors Anne Cameron (more than 60 columns for Western Edge), Jane Watt, Paul Durras, Jaiden Dembo, James Paley, Beverly Cramp; Filmmakers Tom Shandel, Glynis Whiting, Ken Hewlett / Designer Christine Rondeau / Photographer Laura Sawchuk / Technicians Marcus Barnes, Kenneth Li / Accountant Anna Wu / Bookkeepers Elaine Keating and Ingela Kasparitis / Designer/Site Manager for BCBookAwards and Literary Map of BC Sharon Jackson.
A capsulized funding history: Combined provincial and federal support for the ABCBookWorld service was zero from 2001 to mid-2014. Proposals to the B.C. Arts Council for help creating BCBookLook were rejected three times. Eventually Canada Council provided one-time support for the construction phase of BCBookLook in 2013. After B.C. Arts Council failed to respond to four letters asking for a meeting dating back to 2010, creativeBC came forward to provide essential support for the twin website initiatives in 2014. Canada Book Fund also contributed essential funding in 2014 for the creation and integration of videos for and about B.C. authors. We attained one-time funding support for the Literary Map of B.C. initiative from the Arts Innovative Fund of B.C. The combined sites of ABCBookWorld and BCBookLook had more than six million page views in 2014, the first year of mutual operation.
For a while we were naively hopeful B.C. funding might rise to even half the amount that Ontario provides for less effective sites but we have been stymied. The manners and civility of that federal Canada Council have been exemplary ever since we started operating B.C. BookWorld under the umbrella of Pacific BookWorld News Society in 1988, but even Canada Council has lately fallen behind in terms of recognizing a variety of initiatives undertaken in recent years.
Vancouver is akin to Vladivostock and Toronto is Moscow.
Slow and steady wins the race.
BCBookLook is increasingly integral to the book-reading public as more people gravitate to the internet for book news and book purchasing. We are fully confident the outreach of those two main sites, BCBookLook and ABCBookWorld, will enable us to successfully complete the book promotion spectrum by establishing The Ormsby Review to accommodate lengthy, critical reviews by experts. In its first 150 days of existence, The Ormsby Review instigated 160 reviews and essays–entirely without funding.
If you’re a B.C. author who has just published a new book, and you already have an entry on ABCBookWorld reference site, please let us know the title, publisher and year of your recent publication so we can augment your entry. Non-self-promotional language is required for all submissions. You’re welcome to take a $25 subscription to B.C. BookWorld to support our labours in the process, but it’s not mandatory.
New authors pertaining to British Columbia are invited to submit biographical information, along with factual information about their books–keeping promotional language to a minimum. We are gatekeepers of book knowledge. We reserve the right to edit or restrict materials submitted to ABCBookWorld or BCBookLook, limiting puffery, endorsements written by friends and the name of your cat. And don’t forget to send along a Jpeg headshot of your yourself, limiting the size of the file.
In compiling these sites, we are continually correcting inadvertent errors made by those who came before us. It’s logical, given the plethora of dates and odd spellings of names, we’ll occasionally present some inaccuracies, too. Please let us know if you find any error, even a tiny one. Making literary history is a cumulative process so we cannot take full responsibility for every sentence; but, like Wikipedia (started in 2001, when we started ABCBookWorld), we do our damnedest to get it right.
The work is always rewarding. And, in those immortal words of the Spanish explorer Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra as he negotiated his way through West Coast waters: “I sailed on, taking fresh trouble for granted.”
3516 West 13th Ave.
Vancouver, B.C. V6R 2S3
– Alan Twigg / Coordinator, Writer, Editor, Publisher
“Only connect.” – E.M. Forster
“What are called advanced ideas are really in great part but the latest fashion in definition, a more accurate expression, by words in logy and ism, of sensations which men and women have vaguely grasped for centuries.” Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) for the instigation of the project as well as the integral support of creativeBC
ABOUT PACIFIC BOOKWORLD NEWS SOCIETY
Founded in 1988, Pacific BookWorld New Society is a non-profit organization with a constitution stating its purposes are: “(a) To serve the general reading public of British Columbia with news about the variety of writing, publishing and book industry activity taking place in the province; (b) To stimulate greater interest in the media in providing reviews and feature coverage of books and authors in British Columbia; (c) to foster better understanding and greater communication within the book industry in British Columbia; (d) and any other purposes that may conveniently or advantageously be combined with the existing purposes of the Society.”
The Society has served as the advisory, umbrella organization for the educational newspaper BC BookWorld, published for the Society by A.R.T. BookWorld Productions Inc. since 1988. It has also engendered a reference site—eleven years in the making, and unfunded during that time—for more than 10,800 B.C. authors and their books. Hosted by Simon Fraser University, it is the most extensive, original promotional site for authors in Canada, including thousands of photos and an ever-expanding archive of essays, interviews and profiles.
The BookWorld staff has also co-created and/or managed most of the province’s major literary awards including the BC Book Prizes, the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, the Vancity Women’s Book Prize and the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness. For several years staff also provided free administration for the City of Vancouver Book Award. All such administration for ancillary literary support activities—eg. the ABCBookWorld reference site, management of literary prizes and organization of the Reckoning 07 conference at Simon Fraser University—has been provided on a volunteer basis. As well, the publisher of B.C. BookWorld served a two-year term as an unpaid Vancouver Public Library Trustee in 2011-2012.
Pacific BookWorld board members include Howard White (president), publisher of the Encyclopedia of British Columbia; UBC historian Jean Barman, author of The West Beyond the West; author and teacher Andreas Schroeder, co-founder of Public Lending Right in Canada; Dr. Rowland Lorimer, co-founder for the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing; former Vancouver Public Library chief librarian Paul Whitney; current Vancouver Public Library chief librarian Sandra Singh; SFU Chief Librarian Gwen Bird and UBC librarian Brenda Peterson.
Since 1988, the permanent staff of two has consisted of David Lester and Alan Twigg. Over the years, staff of B.C. BookWorld has jointly produced six books outlining the literary history of the province, culminating in The Essentials: 150 Great B.C. Books & Authors (Ronsdale, 2010), the first critical overview of British Columbia literature. We are pleased to add Ormsby Review books editor/writer Richard Mackie; ABCBookWorld & BCBookLook editor/writer Beverly Cramp and webmaster Sharon Jackson to our team, as well as a stable of freelancers.
UNSOLICITED COMMENTS ON ABCBOOKWORLD
(a subsidiary of BCBookLook via Search Box)
Wow. It’s a godsend! –Chuck Davis
It’s a monumental undertaking & will be very, very useful to anybody interested in the considerable body of literature from this province. Many congratulations. –Daphne Marlatt
You are a walking miracle and an example of industry and accomplishment to all of us. –Joan Givner
I checked my author listing, meaning to update it with my newest Barkerville book, and the new title was already there! You guys are awesome! –Ann Walsh
You have taken on a labour of Hercules. –Robert Thomson
The site is invaluable. –Larry Hannant
I’m tremendously impressed by the ABCBookworld site — what a greatservice for BC authors, and readers! –Eileen Kernaghan
Thanks for this monumental contribution to writers, Alan. –Kate Braid
What a huge lot of work!! I’ve only briefly looked at the material inside, but it already looks like an extremely valuable resource, probably the best of its kind. It’s a great service you’ve done with BCBookWorld, and this just puts a very nice topping on all of it. Many thanks from me personally, and I’m sure the other writers of the province are also grateful. –Jamie Reid
Congratulations on getting the project up and running. A tremendous job of work. –Daniel Francis
Thanks for doing such a good job! –Douglas Coupland
The SFU web site is very impressive. Thanks for your many endeavours on the part of BC writers. –Sheryl Salloum
Thank you. This is a wonderful thing for all of us. –Jane Barker Wright
Thank you for the huge and marvellously helpful project of putting this all together — such a lot of work! –Barbara Lambert
Thank you for a thoroughly professional and handsome-looking job. It is already proving useful. –David Watmough
So glad this site is up and running. Congratulations, it’s a great service to B.C writers. –Margaret Hollingsworth
An excellent site, Alan. Congratulations. Ithas involved a great deal of work. –Rosemary Neering
I had a look at the website and at my entry, and I needed to congratulate you and the others involved! It is the very first time I can remember that all the information on such a site was correct. It is easy to make mistakes with all the dates, etc., but it didn’t happen here. Thank you! –Nancy Hundal
The web site looks excellent. –Douglas Todd
I’m having fun going through all the Haig-Brown book prize entries. There’s some great stuff – so many ways to know and enjoy this province! –David Conn
Thanks very much for setting all of this up! –Diane Swanson
You’re certainly doing the world of BC literary history a favour with your work and your BC BookWorld publication. –David Mattison
Very impressive, valuable reference material about BC authors. BC BookWorld has done a wonderful job! Congratulations. –Howard Overend
It’s a great site; I had fun surfing and seeing what some of my wretched ink-stained colleagues had to say about themselves. –Don Gayton
Thank you for organizing this, Alan! –John Nichols
I’ve checked it out…I think I’ll have fun poking through it, and I also think this is going to be a very important resource for all who scribble and wordsling. –Anne Cameron
Thanks–the site looks very good. –Anthea Penne
The Author Bank is a wonderful project. –Sid Tafler
Thank you very much! The site looks good and I’m glad to be on it. –Jocelyn Reekie
The site looks good. —Rhonda Batchelor
Thank you for arranging for this information to now be so widely available. –Kathryn Bridge
Thanks ever so. –Thelma Sharp
Thank you very much for this information. –Sally Rogow
Thanks Alan – looks great! –Sharon Brown
I’m grateful for all you do for B.C. books and writers. –Kay Gregory
Thanks for thinking of me! All the best with the project, I think it’s an excellent resource for all kinds of things. –Rhona McAdam
Thanks so much for all your hard work in putting this site together! –Maria Coffey
It’s a worthy endeavour, and a big project, so congratulations on pulling it off. –Steven Galloway
I’m so glad you got abcbookworld going — great idea nicely implemented. Congratulations! –Merrill Fearon, Federation of B.C. Writers
Wonderful website. –Bill Stenson
It looks good. I appreciate your continuing dedication to B.C. writers. –Mary Burns
You have done an amazing job in a short time. I was quite boggled at the list of authors who are showcased on the site –Kitty Lewis, Brick Books
Thanks for all you do for us. –Mary Billy
I am grateful to be listed among B.C. authors and thankful for the work you and your colleagues do to update and maintain the site. Keep up the great work –Ron Shewchuk
What a wonderful resource. Thank you for including my work. –John Barker
Thanks for doing the bibliographic project on B.C. authors. It will be wonderful to have this as a reference. –Robin Ridington
Thanks for including me in this. It’s much appreciated. –Julie Cruikshank
Thanks a million for the new page. –Russell Thornton
You’ve really done a terrific job. Enjoyed just reading the profiles for Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier, two of my favourite poets. –Andy Quan
Thanks for taking on this mammoth task. –Norma Charles
Thanks for keeping this site going. It’s a good service for BC writers. –Mark Zuehlke
I had occasion today to check the new Author Bank and now see that there was a method in your madness. Thanks for my page on the website and for presenting an up-to-date image of me for the world to see. Thanks for everything you do for writers and books. –Lynne Bowen
I find the pages such an terrific resource. I’m not surprised to learn that it gets 800 hits a day. Every province should have one, though I can only imagine the work that went into it and the continuing upkeep. –Pearl Luke
I wonder if we writers appreciate, sufficiently, all that you do for us – not only with your excellent publication and your generous promotion of our works. … Your website must be unique in the world of writers and their writings. In my own case, although I already had many novels to my credit in South Africa, I could never have made it as an unknown author, in country new to me, without your encouragement – especially as, at that time, my non-fiction book dealt with a weird disease, hitherto unknown to most people. Now, as I savour the thrill of seeing my 20th effort in print, I have a special reason to acknowledge my debt to you. It seems that, no matter what I am researching on Google, your website inevitably seems to crop up in connection with some subject featured on BC BookWorld. Imagine my excitement when I was checking into something this morning, and came across a link to a very gracious bio of myself, and a list of my books! You must be God’s Gift to B.C. authors. –Marie Warder
I just wanted to tell you once again just how much I appreciated this wonderful (once in a lifetime) promotion of Living by Stories. It was so much fun sitting in the ferry lounge with Harry popping up all around me. That photo is pretty prominent!! (So much for the anti-smoking campaign…). I certainly noticed that everyone on the BC FERRIES picks up BC BookWorld!! So thanks a million, Alan!! –Wendy Wickwire
Just want to send you a huge thank you for giving Madame Zee such a fantastic plug on CBC this afternoon. You can’t imagine how surprised and thrilled I was–you’re wonderful, and you absolutely made my day! –Pearl Luke
Thank you so much for your steady support of our authors and our books–and for the support you offer to all BC books and publishers. —Hiro Boga
I’m the sculptor that did the George Ryga Award. I’ve just picked up the latest addition of B.C. BookWorld. I always look foreword to it coming out. Anyway the photo and the article made my day! Thank you very much for promoting this wonderful award for social awareness in B.C literature. I feel strongly that these voices are needed to be heard. I’m also sure that George Ryga would also appreciate your kindness as well as the great work you do in promoting the stories and the story tellers in our part of the world! Thanks again! —Reg Kienast
First glance of yr new book and I’ll be buying all in the series. I can hardly say why, but somehow the speed with which we are losing the ground beneath our feet makes me want to know more about that ground, what it is, how it got here, who placed it just as it is, and why. –Peter Levitt
You deserve the Order of Canada or Order of British Columbia for your publication and work on behalf of the world of books. –Ross Ranger
Keep up the good work. Even if you don’t hear that as often as you should, especially from this side of the Rockies. We need BC BookWorld. –Marc Coté, Cormorant Books
I think that more than anyone it was Alan Twigg who woke up Vancouver and the west coast up to its own legitimacy as a Canadian and North American literary hub. –Trevor Carolan, Director, Banff Writers Festival
I am continually being exposed to the respect and admiration to which you are held by many in this rarefied community. Numerous positive comments are passed on about you and the contributions you have and are making to the writing and publishing sector, particularly at the BC Historical Federation’s convention and award ceremonies in Victoria a week or so ago. –Peter Grauer
Hello! I love your author database – what a valuable tool for persons such as myself, a middle school teacher-librarian. –Lorraine M. Lindsay, M.Ed., North Saanich Middle School