PubFight: If the Book Business Is a Gamble, Learn How to Count Cards

Yesterday at the BookNet Canada Technology Forum, we provided the comic relief for the day by unveiling PubFight, the fantasy publishing/simulation/training arena for the Canadian book industry. For those that couldn’t be there for the raucous demonstration, here is the text that Tech Forum attendees received yesterday… (this should probably be on the front page, but wiser heads have decided that I should not have any kind of control over the front page of, so I’ll seize on to my inalienable right to blog! In the next few days, I’ll talk about some of the reactions I heard yesterday, why we did it, and post the slides too.)


Gaining insight on next season’s hottest books is great. Using that knowledge to build your very own entirely fictitious publishing empire is even better. (Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere!)

If you geek-out on ARCs, advance reviews and deal news and you have much love for Oscar pools, Giller-Lite betting tables or fantasy sports leagues, it’s time to get into PubFight.

The Players: Think you can spot this fall’s The Secret? Predict a Giller-bound author? Willing to put (fake) money and (real) literary street-cred on it? If you’re saying yes, yes, yes and you’ve got access to BNC SalesData, you’re ready to be a PubFighter.

The League: Bring together your co-workers, classmates and friends (or any combination thereof) to create your own PubFight 2008 league. You decide how much money you’re get to “spend” in the auction, the essentials of your lists (i.e. all fiction? Fiction, non-fiction and kids? Only first-time authors? ) and the Canadian publisher catalogues that are part of your PubFight universe.

The Auction: Do your homework and get ready. This spring, you and your league mates are going to Fake Frankfurt for a knockdown, drag-out fight to determine who gets which real, new titles for the Fall season. Bring a bidding strategy, tissues and consolation cookies: this is where kingdoms are created and lost*.

The Game: Your season starts when the first Fall books hit the street. PubFight numbers are updated every week with the BNC SalesData data drop. You manage your print runs and stock levels. Pile ‘em high and watch ‘em fly or print conservatively and avoid dead stock come January: you pick your strategy and let the best PubFighter win. But remember: if your titles sell more in the real world than you’ve got on hand, you lose those sales.

The Champion(s): After the ribbons and wrappings settle on the holiday season in January 2009, you crown your winners. Is it all about the benjamins? Maybe you want to throw in a skunk prize for least literary list? You determine how you want to congratulate or soothe your league (and then get ready for the 2009 season)!

Contact us at to find out more and get PubFight 2008: Information Session updates.

And join us on Monday, April 28, 2008 for the BPPA PubFight Night at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto (more info soon!).