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


“PRINTING, ILLUSTRATION, TYPE DESIGN, typefounding, type engraving, bookbinding, graphic design, stone cutting and digital type design are things that have occupied me for over seventy years, and do to this day.  Excepting the bit of letter cutting in stone, these occupations have all put dinner on the table; but it has been my good fortune to have loved the work.”

This is how Jim Rimmer (1934-2010) starts off his Pie Tree Press, Memories from the Composing Room Floor (Gaspereau Press, 2008)

Rimmer was a mainstay of the letterpress/private press community in Vancouver for much of the past 50 years. Trained as a commercial compositor in the 1950s, his aesthetic taste,  artistic talent and mechanical know-how combined to produce a long, significant career as a graphic artist, printer, type designer and caster.  Despite the many fonts he designed, engraved and cast, despite his beautiful linocuts, and despite the fact that in 2004 he completed the first engraving and casting of Carl Dair's Cartier face in metal, Jim is remembered most of all for love.

The love of a business that he was passionate about; and the love that he instilled in so many, for books, the printed word, and the letterpress printing process.

An archive of material from the last decade of Jim's work is held by the Special Collections Library at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. I met there recently with Eric Swanick, Head of the Library, to talk about Jim Rimmer.

Direct download: Eric_S_on_Rimmer_56_R09_0001.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 7:08pm EDT

Leah Gordon, Chair of the Awards Committee, Alcuin Society

The Alcuin Society’s Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada have been recognizing achievement since 1981.

As Marlene Chan put it in the preface to the 2009 winners’catalogue,

“The hallmark of the judging process in all of the Alcuin competitions is, and has always been, that each book is considered as a total entity. The discerning judges examine every aspect of each book, including the dust jacket, binding, endpapers, half-title page, copyright page, title page, page layout, typography, integration of illustrations, chapter openings, running heads, reproduction of illustrations, clarity of printing, choice of paper, footnotes and bibliographical references. The judges select books in eight categories to encourage the very best in Canadian design, only where they see exceptional merit.”

I met recently with Leah Gordon, Chair of the Book Design Committee, at her home in Vancouver to talk about the history and goals of the society – and, in particular, its Awards program; about some of the books the society has published over the years, and about how, in addition to the judging criteria cited above,  appropriateness and usefulness also factor into the judges’ decision making process. 

Direct download: Leah_Gordon_56_R09_0002_3.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 7:21am EDT

bill bissett

Monsieur Wikipedia informs us that bill bissett was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, attended Dalhousie University (1956) and the University of British Columbia (1963–1965), and dropped out of both because of a desire 'to live as a free agent, writer and painter unencumbered by any academic constraints.' He moved to Vancouver in 1958 and five years later set up blew ointment magazine. He later launched blewointment press, which has published volumes by Cathy Ford, Maxine Gadd, bpNichol, Ken West, Lionel Kearns and D. A. Levy, and many others.  bissett is currently based in Vancouver and Toronto.

Known for his 'unique orthography' , 4 incorporating visual elements into his printed poetry, and 4 performing "concrete sound" poetry using sound effects, chanting, and barefoot dancing, he is often associated with the Shamanistic in literature. He also paints, and produces audio recordings. His work 'often involves humour, a sense of wonder and sentimentality, and political commentary.'

In 2006, Harbour Publishing put out  radiant danse uv being, a tribute to bissett with contributions from more than 80 writers, including Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Patrick Lane, Steve McCaffery, and P. K. Page; and Carl Peters has just published a book called textual vishyuns: image and text in the work of bill bissett that analyses the poet's work.

I met with bill recently in Ottawa to talk about all of the above, starting with the blurring of boundaries. Please listen here:

Direct download: bill_bissettR09_0008_2_56.mp3
Category:Poets -- posted at: 10:11pm EDT

Will Rueter

Will Rueter is a private printer, hand binder, instructor and printmaker living in Dundas, Ontario. He founded The Aliquando Press late in 1962. It has, to date, produced more than 100 books, and plenty of broadsides too. Rueter's work has been shown throughout North America and Japan and is held in public and private collections in North America and Europe.

I met him recently at his home in Dundas to talk about, among other things, the origins of his Press, his love of printing, his Dutch printer ancestors, and his 30 years at the University of Toronto Press designing books. During the latter part of our conversation we talk about those volumes he is most proud of having produced, including Majesty, Order and Beauty an edition of the edited journals of renowned British bookbinder and private printer, Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, a close friend of William Morris and a man who has had a profound impact on Rueter's life and work.

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: Will_Rueter_ZOOM0001_56.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 1:21am EDT