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March 29, 2001 B2B Canada demystifies e-business - and business is buying







Marlene Blanshay


Marlene Blanshay (above) and Matthew Friedman (below) lay out the principles and terminology of the new e-business and electronic economy in their book.

Photos by Matthew Friedman

Matthew Friedman

by Sidhartha Banerjee

B2B Canada is probably the most comprehensive study of business-to-business e-commerce in Canada. And unlike other aspects of the bustling, evolutionary e-business industry, the book may still hold that distinction five years from now.

The writers, Journalism lecturer Matthew Friedman and his partner, Marlene Blanshay, have broken down the principles and terminology of the new e-business and electronic economy into digestible chunks that can be easily consumed by any reader.

“We wanted to provide the context of what was going on, not tell people what to buy. We aren’t in the PR business,” Blanshay said. “Certain issues of e-commerce won’t change, since they are issues and themes which apply to business in any form.”

Writing their first book together took eight to 10 months, “about five dog years in technology,” Blanshay said.

If they had reviewed or recommended specific products, she said, “it would have been dated when it was released. Some of those companies won’t exist in a couple of years.”

B2B Canada was published by Macmillan Canada in December. Friedman said, “Our goal was to provide some insight and knowledge so that smart business people could make informed decisions for themselves. When you cut through the jargon and the hype, the story of electronic commerce is a ripping yarn, and we wanted to tell it that way.”

Friedman and Blanshay, both Concordia graduates, are business journalists who have specialized in information technology for local and national publications. Because they track the industry on a daily basis and have a wide interest in electronic commerce, they have a perspective some writers lack.

“We’re journalists, which means we are careful observers,” Friedman said. “We have no vested interest in electronic commerce, yet we have spent the last few years watching it evolve.”

Friedman’s first book, Fuzzy Logic: Dispatches from the Information Revolution, won the 1998 Quebec Writers Federation’s First Book Award.

It was Blanshay’s first time writing a book, but she adapted well. “I’d only written features and stories, so an entire book seemed about as doable as walking across North America,” she admitted. “It was horribly stressful at times because of the deadlines.”

The American version of the book, titled Understanding B2B and published by Dearborn Trade, is due in May. With B2B Canada already one of the best-selling business books in Canada, it is likely the Americanized version will follow suit.

“Electronic commerce isn’t just an alternative way of doing business,” Friedman said. “It’s the way business is done.”