The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

Stan Bevington, Founder, Coach House Press

In 1965, Stan Bevington, moved to Toronto from Edmonton, rented an old coach house, installed an antique Challenge Gordon platen press and set up Coach House Press. Over the years his small publishing house introduced the world to the early works of bpNichol, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, George Bowering, Frank Davey, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Anne Michaels and many other important Canadian writers.

Known for its experimental production techniques and innovative designs, Coach House has published more than 500 titles of its own since 1965, and printed thousands more for other presses, libraries and art galleries. In addition to employing some of Canada's greatest type and book designers, Bevington also kept Coach House at the forefront of  new printing and computer technology advancements, collaborating with artists, programmers and e–book designers.

He has lectured at York University and the Rochester Visual Studies Workshop, at the Banff Publishing workshop and Radcliffe at Harvard, and has received numerous grants, prizes, honourary degrees and life time achievement awards for his work in publishing and the Arts.

We met recently in Toronto, outside the Coach House premises, to talk about the history of the Press, and, more specifically, about those books, among the many it has published, that might be of greatest interest to the collector. Please listen here:

This interview is part of our  Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.

Direct download: Stan_Bevington_Coach_House_R09_0015.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 9:31pm EDT

George Walker is a wood engraver, book artist, author, illustrator and educator who has taught courses at the Ontario College of Art & Design since 1985. For over twenty years he has exhibited his wood engravings and limited edition books internationally. Among many book projects, George has illustrated two hand-printed editions written by Neil Gaiman. He is the author of The Inverted Line (2000 Porcupine's Quill), ImagesFrom the Neocerebellum (Porcupine's Quill 2007), The Woodcut Artist's Handbook (Firefly Books 2005), and Graphic Witness (Firefly Books 2007). Elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 2002, Walker belongs to The Loving Society of Letterpress Printers, The Binders of Infinite Love and the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG).

I met recently with George and his partner/wife Michelle Hogan-Walker in Ottawa over breakfast. We talked about the various presses that the two of them have owned and operated, about his oeuvre, and his book collecting habit. Finally, we discuss Frans Masereel,  Max Ernst , and Laurence Hyde, and the thread that traces Walker's work back to the early part of the last century. Please listen here:

Direct download: George_and_Michele_Walker_2.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 4:34pm EDT

Johanna Skibsrud

Johanna Skibsrud's debut novel The Sentimentalists won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2009 Alcuin Award for best designed work of prose fiction, the first book ever to achieve this double win. Skibsrud has also published two books of poetry, including Late Nights with Wild Cowboys in 2008. The Sentimentalists was written for her Master's thesis at Concordia University.She is currently pursuing a Ph.D.  and lives in Tuscon Arizona. 

The Sentimentalists was first published by Gaspereau Press, a highly regarded small press based in Kentiville Nova Scotia, in a print run of 800 copies. The firm had difficulty filling demand for the book after it won the Giller. Chapters-Indigo, Canada's dominant bookstore chain, claimed not to have any of the books in stock anywhere in Canada during the week the Giller was announced. One result was a significant increase in ebook sales; the novel quickly became the top-selling title in the Kobo ebookstore. Within about two weeks Gaspereau announced that it had sold trade paperback rights to Douglas & McIntyre; at the same time it continued to print small runs of the novel in its original format.

As if this weren't enough, Giller juror Ali Smith, a British writer, spoke to literary agent and friend, Tracy Bohan, about the book before it was longlisted. Just days before the longlist was announced, Bohan secured a deal for the rights to distribute the book internationally. She subsequently sold the book to her boyfriend, Jason Arthur, a director of Random House UK imprint William Heinemann.

According to The National Post, Andrew Steeves, co-owner of Gaspereau Press, says he received an email from Skibsrud in which “She told me that Tracy Bohan had contacted her and that an author, Ali Smith, had recommended that Tracy read The Sentimentalists.” Before the longlist was revealed in September, “Tracy was very interested in making a deal with me that morning.” After the longlist was revealed, Steeves admitted, “it looked a little funny to me.”

I met recently with Skibsrud in Ottawa. We talked about all of the events surrounding publication of  The Sentimentalists (surly already despite its short life, one of the most storied books in Canadian history) and about the book itself as object. Please listen here:

Direct download: Joanna_Skibsrud_R09_0007.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 8:22am EDT

Etgar Keret is an Israeli writer known for his short stories, graphic novels, and scriptwriting for film and television. His first work, a collection of short stories, was largely ignored when it was published in 1992. His second book, Missing Kissinger, a collection of fifty very short stories, was a hit. The story "Siren", which deals with paradoxes in modern Israeli society, is included in the curriculum for the Israeli matriculation exam in literature. Keret has co-authored several comic books, written a children's book (Dad Runs Away with the Circus) and served as a writer for the popular TV show The Cameri Quintet . He and his wife Shira directed the 2007 film Jellyfish, based on a story written by Shira. This is what we talked about when we met earlier this year in Ottawa. Please listen here:

Direct download: Etgar_Keret042309-101846.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 10:30pm EDT