Tag Archives: Indigo

Why Neil Gaiman needs a pen woman.


I met Neil Gaiman.  He is, in fact, very awesome in person.  He is witty, and smart, and nice.

And it’s a good thing he’s nice, because having never helped with a signing event of this magnitude, I had no idea what I was in for.  Or what he was in for.  But I now understand why it is his last signing tour.

Before the signing event.  There is a team of people, both from Indigo and Neil’s assistants and editor, helping him sign more than a thousand books which will be for sale in the lobby of the theatre.  So nobody’s here yet, and he’s already signing.  Before anyone had arrived, he had signed more than a thousand books.

There were 1200 people at the event.  The rule was they could have as many copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane signed as they wanted, and one other item of their choice.  They could also have one signed item personalized.  This meant, that at bare minimum, he would be signing at least 2400 more books.  It was probably upwards of 3000, at a guess.

Neil’s presentation started at 7 pm.  He had already done interviews for local and national news earlier, by the way.  The presentation was fantastic, with readings, and some excellent questions from the audience, which resulted in an amazing anecdote about Shirley Maclaine asking to touch his hair, and the information that the maximum number of cats you should ever own is eight.

He then took a minimal break, and started signing.

And signing.

And signing.

He signed books, he signed posters.  He signed a violin.  He signed dolls.  He signed e-readers.

I gave him a band-aid out of my purse, to hold his thumbnail on.  It was falling off from signing so many things.  And apparently his previous tour had been worse.

My job was to keep the ink for his fountain pen available, and to hand him various coloured Sharpies.  This does not sound like a difficult job, right?  Unless you’ve been holding your hand in the same position for so long that it cramps, and the stage lights are making your hands sweaty, and after a while markers are flying everywhere and it’s incredibly embarrassing that Neil Gaiman is witnessing your inability to simply hand someone markers.  Sigh.  Which he was very nice about.

Despite the fact that he was signing books for so very many people, he made a concerted effort to make a personal connection with each one.  He seems very aware of the fact that he is, for some people, very important to them, despite being a perfect stranger.   One of the other women there and I were discussing how you could do an amazing series of photos, just capturing the expressions of the people meeting Neil.  These weren’t just squealing fans, these were people whose lives had been touched and transformed by him.

Despite being in excruciating pain, how could he leave before he saw everyone?  Before the woman who he hugged as she broke down, saying that his work was the only thing that got her through high school?  Before he was handed beautiful art, paintings and sketches and crafts?  Musicians and writers who brought their newly published first book, first cd, and credited him with inspiring them?  Before the couple who had FLOWN IN FROM AUSTRALIA? And he truly was happy to see them all.  So he couldn’t say no partway through the process, and so he has to say no to the process.  Before his hand falls off.  Or worse, it becomes something he no longer enjoys.

Edit: Since so many of you have asked, the signing finally finished after two in the morning, and we were all a little loopy.  There was a big bowl of ice waiting for Neil’s hand, and we all sighed with relief when he plunged his hand in.

I am so glad I got to meet him (and get my own books signed!), and I learned a lot.  Neil Gaiman is a pretty amazing person, aside from being a pretty amazing author (the two things don’t always go hand in hand, sadly) and his legions of fans are lucky to have him.

Oh, and although The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an amazing, amazing book (and I highly recommend picking it up, I guarantee you’ll love it, it’s so beautiful), what was even better was him reading it aloud.  So go get a copy of the audio book as read by him, in preparation for which he apparently stayed up nights listening to Sussex farmers speak so he would get the accents right.

Happy, happy reading/listening.

Be inspired.



Filed under Authors, Books, Books in the News, Bookstore, children's books, geek lit, Graphic Novels, Review, Writing

Books for Black Friday?

Here in Canada, we had our Thanksgiving a month ago.  One holiday tradition, however, has crossed the border from the U.S.: Black Friday.  Named Black Friday because it’s the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S., the time when retailers go “into the black” (if it wasn’t for this and Christmas, no retailer would survive).  Here in the Great White North, we quite often lose shoppers to the U.S. for Black Friday deals, especially now that the Canadian and U.S. dollar values are so close together.  To boost sales and try to keep shoppers in Canada, a lot of Canadian retailers have jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon, and are offering some pretty amazing deals.

The one nearest and dearest to my heart is Chapters Indigo, the national bookstore chain.  There are some insanely good deals going, starting today and going until Sunday.  The famous buy 3 get the 4th one free (famous to book-lovers, anyways) is on, but now it’s available on gift and toy items, as well as books and magazines.   This is when you see book-lovers hauling grocery trolleys full of books up to the cash registers, a gleam in their eye and a deal in their heart, for reading to last the cold winter nights.  And with the deal available on line now as well, anyone with internet access and international delivery can share our joy.

Oh, another one to keep in mind – the Kobo Mini .  They put it on sale today and tomorrow for $49.99 for the door crasher.   It’s a good gift for students, and for younger kids who you want an e-reader for but don’t want to spend a ton of money on in the event of destruction.

Happy shopping!



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George R.R. Martin: Prima-Donna, or Overwhelmed and Overworked?


For those of you who read my earlier post on George R.R. Martin’s upcoming signing in Toronto,(see here )you may already be familiar with the rules outlined for the signing. For those who are not familiar, I will re-list them:

• Line-up will be first-come, first-served. Due to anticipated attendance, line-up may begin outside of Indigo Manulife Centre – Bay Street entrance ONLY. Please dress appropriately for the weather.
• George R.R. Martin will sign ONE to TWO (1-2) books maximum, depending on the number of people in line.
• No personalizations – author signature only
• No posed photography – can take photographs from the line

Some people are taking this as evidence that Martin (sorry, I got tired of writing the whole thing, plus two initials, over and over) has fallen victim to his own celebrity, and has a vastly inflated ego as a result.  That if he can’t even take time to add a name to a signature, or pose with a fan, why should the fan take time to buy his book.  And then there is that nasty rumor that he doesn’t actually care if he finishes the series, because between the books and the tv show, he’s made his money.

I admit, this was the camp I initially found myself in, thinking of all those people, including fellow employees, who will be waiting hours in line to see him, in Toronto in March (which is a potential horror in and of itself), and he can’t exert himself a little?  After the initial righteous indignation passed, though (the advantage of being out of my twenties), I thought about this a little more.

First of all, Martin is not a young guy.  See above photo.  He, too, will be there for hours, shaking innumerable hands (thanks to Bruce Campbell’s autobiography for acquainting me with what a scary process this can be), and signing innumerable autographs (think of the hand cramps!).  If he took individual photos with everyone in line, it would either mean the whole event would be waaaaaaay longer, or, more likely, that he wouldn’t be able to see as many people.  So this stuff actually is probably to increase the lowly line-waiter’s chance of a face-to-face, however brief.  Also, the day before the signing, he has a reading and Q&A at the Toronto International Film Festival (sold out).  Just so you know, these events encompass more than just the time he spends with the public.  There is much going on behind the scenes to make it all possible.    So, he is probably already exhausted.  I would be too.  I had a look at his schedule of appearances on his official site… he already has bookings for 2014.   http://georgerrmartin.com/appearances.html

Also, although it could be a be conspiratorial marketing scheme, looking at various pages of his site, including his journal, he seems to actually like (most of) his fans, and even has a soft spot for the crazy ones who name babies after his characters.  So maybe we should go easy on him, and author and fans can appreciate that the other one is setting aside time out of their schedule for them.   I, for one, think of all this as further evidence that books are definitely still relevant, or we wouldn’t be so passionate.

So thanks to you both.


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George R.R. Martin Signing in Toronto

Meet George R.R. Martin – award-winning author and executive producer of the HBO hit Game of Thrones – as he signs A Dance With Dragons, the newest book in the epic bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Event details:
• Line-up will be first-come, first-served. Due to anticipated attendance, line-up may begin outside of Indigo Manulife Centre – Bay Street entrance ONLY. Please dress appropriately for the weather.
• George R.R. Martin will sign ONE to TWO (1-2) books maximum, depending on the number of people in line.
• No personalizations – author signature only
• No posed photography – can take photographs from the line
• Follow @indigogreenroom on twitter for up-to-the minute information.

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Amazon Boycott – Vive la Resistance!

The boycott of Amazon by refusing to stock their books on the shelves, now includes Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Books-A-Million, and IndieCommerce, the venue for the American Booksellers Association (ABA).    To meet customers’  needs, the books continue to be offered for special order, but the companies will not be ordering any stock on hand, in stores or warehouses.  I don’t know how much this will hurt Amazon, since the majority of their business is done online, but a publishing company that doesn’t have books on shelves is necessarily limited.  Not every book-lover shops online, and it will definitely limit distribution in Canada, where Indigo and Books-A-Million have a strong presence.

I have never been a fan of Amazon’s policy of publishing their e-books only in their own format, as opposed to the industry standard of ePub.   Now, their publishing house won’t allow their authors’ e-books to be sold by anyone but Amazon.  The response of the other book-sellers is that they won’t be used as Amazon’s bricks-and-mortar, and prevented from selling the electronic versions.

I have included links to two more articles on the subject, and will be watching developments with interest.  Even if this has no impact on Amazon at all, I’m still glad they’re doing it.



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Great Bookstore Flash Mob

For Valentine’s day, I’d like to share a little video with you that was posted by Indigo Books.  Wish I worked at this store!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the book-lovers everywhere.

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Amazon Publishing bookshop boycott grows | Books | guardian.co.uk

Barnes and Noble, Indigo, and independent booksellers have joined together against  Amazon’s Goliath.


Amazon Publishing bookshop boycott grows | Books | guardian.co.uk.


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