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

Jessa Crispin is editor and founder of " a monthly web magazine and daily blog dedicated to those who love to read. We provide a constant supply of news, reviews, commentary, insight, and more than occasional opinions." Author Jana Martin describes her this way: 

"Certainly she’s a reader, a great reader, and she knows how to make one good party after another, whether in a beer-poster-clad upstairs room at the Hopleaf or Bookslut. She’s a hostess for all of us, a sundress’d impressario. In that way she belongs on the same hearty category as Mike McGonigal: self-made, peripatetic, generous but with standards and boundaries. The other thing is that, like McGonigal, she gives off a slightly timeless vibe: a bit San Francisco 1950s, a bit Chianti in Greenwich Village, a bit rockabilly, a bit Christina’s World."

We met at her home recently in Chicago, and talked about, among other things, the origins of Bookslut, her underemployment at Planned Parenthood, ex-boyfriends, blog advertising, hiring writers, shrinking book review sections, writing for oneself, inexplicable successes, the name ‘Bookslut’ and thoughts of changing it, Somerset Maugham, favourite novels, and the future of blogs.

Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Jessa_Crispin.mp3
Category:Literary Blogger -- posted at: 10:12am EDT

I was in Chicago recently and met with Keith Michael Fiels, Executive Director (since July 2002) of the American Library Association. According to  The ALA Constitution  the purpose of ALA is “…to promote library service and librarianship.” Stated mission is “To provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” In 1998 the ALA Council voted commitment to five Key Action Areas as guiding principles for directing the Association’s energies and resources: Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 21st Century Literacy. Subsequent strategic plans added to these: Advocacy for Libraries and the Profession, and Organizational Excellence. 

Keith and I talk here about, among other things, these principles, the benefits of belonging to the ALA, simple actions librarians can take to improve their libraries, the future of the book, the future of libraries, video games, copyright, digitization, the recent Google settlement, library fines, libraries as social centers, amalgamation of libraries and archives, access to databases and dead links, the importance of libraries as purchasers of non best-selling books, and the bounce-back of literary reading.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Keith_Fiels_ALA.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 10:06am EDT

A lifelong resident of Illinois, Levi Stahl works at the University of Chicago Press. For the past three years he has maintained a literary blog, I’ve Been Reading Lately. He has written for the Poetry Foundation, the Chicago Reader, the Bloomsbury Review, the New-York Ghost, the Quarterly Conversation, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. His short fiction has recently been published in the New York Moon. Levi is also an editor with Joyland - Chicago edition (he’s currently accepting submissions from current and/or former Chicagoans. For more information, you can e-mail him at

We met recently in Chicago to talk about his role as publicity manager for the University of Chicago Press. Early on we talk about copy writing and appealing to as many different audiences as possible, about tours and dealing with the media, about differences between university and mainstream publishers, Modernism, Robert Graves, black and white comedy teams, and finally, about the role Levi played in getting the UCP to re-issue a series of Richard Stark (pen name of Donald Westlake, who, sadly, died the day before we conducted our interview) ‘Parker’ mystery novels, most notably The Hunter, which, though stained through with violent ‘thuggery’ is, according to Levi, very well written, and filled with insight into humanity.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Levi_Stahl.mp3
Category:Book Publicist -- posted at: 9:44pm EDT

Mr. Wikipedia tells us: "Rain Taxi is a Minneapolis-based book review and literary organization. In addition to publishing its quarterly print edition, Rain Taxi maintains an online edition with distinct content, sponsors the Twin Cities Book Festival, hosts readings, and publishes chapbooks through its Brainstorm Series. Rain Taxi’s mission is “to advance independent literary culture through publications and programs that foster awareness and appreciation of innovative writing.” As of 2008, the magazine distributes 18,000 copies through 250 bookstores as well as to subscribers. The magazine is free on the newsstand. It is also available through paid subscription. Structurally, Rain Taxi is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It sells advertising at below market rates, much of it to literary presses."

Rain Taxi’s website tells us that the publication is a winner of the Alternative Press Award for Best Arts & Literature Coverage that runs ‘reviews of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction with an emphasis on works that push the boundaries of language, narrative, and genre. Essays, interviews, and in-depth reviews reflect Rain Taxi’s commitment to innovative publishing.’

I dined and conversed with RainTaxi editor Eric Lorberer , indoors, recently in Minneapolis. We talk here about the state and nature of today’s book reviewing business. Please excuse the abrupt ending.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Eric_Rain_Taxi.mp3
Category:Editors -- posted at: 6:23pm EDT

Kathy Stransky co-owner, with her husband, of Midway Used and Rare Books on University Avenue in St. Paul Minnesota for the past 27 years, talks about the impact of the Internet, Half Price Books moving in down the street, high tech book scouts, rapid transit, and thieves, on her business. Gloom and doom? Yes, it’s been hard, but still, despite diminishing returns, nothing can beat doing what you love for a living. Nothing can beat the complete joy of reading either, says Stransky. Listen too for the two authors who are most in demand among book thieves.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Midway.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 6:19pm EDT

Today is Family Literacy Day! Literacy is defined as “the ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities at home, at work and in the community - to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” Four out of 10 adult Canadians, age 16 to 65 - representing 9 million Canadians - struggle with low literacy according to Statistics Canada. This means they are denied the pleasures and benefits of, among other things, reading literature. Literature, as John Carey puts it in the final chapter of his book What Good are the Arts?, enlarges your mind, and it gives you thoughts, words and rhthms that will last you for life.

With this in mind, we talk to Margaret Eaton, President of the ABC Canada Literacy Foundation about what is being done to help those who live with illiteracy to overcome this obstacle. In so doing we discuss the impact of the Internet on reading habits and the income of freelance writers, the future of the book, blogging, publishers’ business models, and bringing the U.K.’s successful Quick Reads program,which commissions authors (including Ruth Rendall, Joanna Trollope and Richard Branson), to write exciting, short, fast-paced books specifically for adult emergent readers, to Canada. Margaret is now looking for well know Canadian authors to write true crime, and how-to titles, both of which were very popular in England. I immediately suggest William Deverell, and a can’t miss how-to topic: Seven Steps to Phenomenal Sex.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Margaret_Eaton_ABC_Foundation_Literacy.mp3
Category:Literacy -- posted at: 6:17pm EDT

Robert Rulon-Miller is an antiquarian book dealer who lives, if not in a mansion, then at the very least in a great big house on Summit Avenue, one of the toniest in St. Paul, Minnesota. Not that toiling as a bookseller is anyway to get rich quick. He has worked hard for many years in the business, specializing in 'Rare, Fine & Interesting Books in Many Fields; 1st Editions, Americana; LIterature; Fine & Early Printing; Travel; and the History of Language.' His most recent catalogue is titled Language and Learning. Robert is also the Director of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar scheduled for August 2nd-7th, 2009, at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, immediately following the Denver Antiquarian Book Fair.

We met recently at his home to talk books. Topics covered include deaccessioning, Railway and mining tycoon James J. Hill, Robert"s friendship with Elmer Anderson, book collector adn Governor of Minnesota; Robert’s interest in words and language, his expertise in dictionaries and grammars and lack of interest in Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary, Better World Books’s business model, partnering to buy and sell expensive books, and advice for the novice bookseller. 

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Please listen here

Direct download: Robert_Rulon_Miller1.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 11:22am EDT

Rosemary Furtak has been librarian at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for 25 year. She is co-curator of ‘Text Messages’, an exhibit on artist’s books currently showing (until April 2009) at the Center. We talk here about her early championing of the artist book genre (her definition being: "a book that refuses to behave like a book (like the 35,000 books that sit in the stacks"), the line between books and art, and words and art, and librarians and curators…and how to go about collecting artist books. We talk too about the challenges of cataloguing artist Ed Ruscha’s 26 Gasoline Stations,

about the prolific and surprising Dieter Roth, inexpensive materials and Richard Tuttle, and Lawrence Weiner, his Statements and his art making process. The works of these four are highlighted in the exhibition.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Rosemary_Furtak.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 11:19am EDT