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

Gordon Graham

W. Gordon Graham was born ninety some years ago in Scotland. He attended university in Glasgow and after graduation enlisted in the army; he was awarded the Military Cross and Bar for active service in Burma. He started his postwar career as a freelance newspaper correspondent in Bombay writing for, among other publications: Business Week,  Chemical Engineering Record, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Glasgow Herald. In 1950 he started augmenting his journalist’s income with part-time work as a College and Trade Traveller for the McGraw-Hill Book Company. Six years later he was appointed their International Sales Manager, based in New York. He subsequently moved to London to run McGraw-Hill’s  European and the Middle Eastern book business. In 1974 he left the company to become Chairman and Chief Executive of Butterworths, where he oversaw a  tenfold increase in turn over.

He ‘retired’ in 1990, at which time he became the founder-editor of LOGOS, The Professional Journal of the Book World.I recently had the privilege of interviewing Gordon Graham at his home in England. Among other things we spoke about his legendary career, and those qualities he thinks best characterize great publishers. Please listen here:

Direct download: Gordon_Graham_Edit__801016_01.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

After working his way up through the publishing trade during the 1950s and 1960s, Tom Doherty became publisher of Tempo Books in 1972 and later Ace Books. In 1980 he established his own publishing firm Tom Doherty Associates Inc., with the help of several investors including silent partner Richard Gallen (of Dell Emerald Books fame), and with it the Tor Books imprint.

Early Tor titles included Norton’s Forerunner; Fred Saberhagen’s Water of Thought; Poul Anderson’s Winners, Starship, Explorations and Guardians of Time; Keith Laumer’s The Breaking Earth, Beyond the Imperium, and The House in November; Harry Harrison’s Planet of No Return and Planet of the Damned; Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen’s Coils; and Steve Barnes and Larry Niven’s Belial

Honours during the early/mid eighties included The Prometheus Award for The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith (1982) and the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (1985).

 In 1986 Doherty sold his company to St. Martin’s Press and TDA/Tor Books became a division of the larger company. Over time the portion of non-SF "mainstream" titles at Tor grew, to a point where,  by 1993, they made up more than half the list. As a result a new imprint, Forge Books, was established in order to better market these titles.

Tom does a much better job of charting the history of his career and these companies than I have here. Listen and learn how and why he has enjoyed such success; you can just tell how much fun he’s had in the business.

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Direct download: Tom_Doherty_801120_01.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 1:02pm EDT

Karl Siegler is a founding member of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia and the Literary Press Group of Canada; he has served as president of the Association of Canadian Publishers twice, and was one of the founding members of the Simon Fraser Centre for Studies in Publishing and its Masters in Publishing Program. He’s also the publisher at Talonbooks.

Talonbooks has published Canadian poetry and drama since the publishing house was established in 1963. According to some dated, but I’m sure currently applicable stats from the Canada Council the average Canadian drama title sells 594 copies during its first two years in print, the average poetry title sells 405 copies.

Karl and I talk here first about the role of a literary publisher, then about how Talon has managed to stay in business for over forty years,  and finally about constituencies and the title he is most proud of publishing. Please listen here:

 Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Karl_Seigler_Talon_Books_800908_01.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 10:56am EDT

Open Letter is the University of Rochester’s literary publishing house. ‘ It is dedicated to connecting readers with great international authors and their works. Publishing twelve books a year and running an online literary website called Three Percent, Open Letter is one of only a handful of U.S. organizations with a commitment to cultivating an appreciation for international literature.’

‘Chad W. Post is the director of Open Letter, a press dedicated to publishing literature in translation. He also runs Three Percent, an online blog and review site focused on international literature. Prior to starting Open Letter, he was the associate director at Dalkey Archive Press. In addition, he co-founded Reading the World, a unique collaboration between publishers and independent bookstores to promote world literature.’ We talk here among other things about the dominance of great non-English speaking novelists, Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortazar (Hopscotch is one of Post’s favourite novels), Jose Saramago and the phenomenon of one-foreign-author-at-a-time, reasons for the success of 2666, why American authors have the inside track, how economics works against translation, and the opportunities that exist in publishing foreign authors.

Please listen here: (Apologies for the rather abrupt ending).

Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: chad_post.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 12:07am EDT

Stephen Johnson is Managing Director of the recently formed South African publishing firm Random House Struik. We talk here about the merger, the independence of SABC (the state owned South African Broadcasting Corporation), Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, Random House Struik’s political power, Apartheid’s banning of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, the current government’s under-funding of libraries, political corruption and the loss of early promise, Apartheid by other means, freedom, story-telling and other explanations for South Africa’s flourishing publishing sector, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Jacob Zuma’s shower head, and plans Johnson has for the future of his company.

Please listen here:

Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Stephen_Johnson.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 10:48pm EDT

David Curruthers, owner proprietor of St. Armand Papers in Montreal takes us through the process of how he produces paper that is used in the letterpress printing of books. We talk about pure fibre rags, old jute coffee bags, cover stock, denim and blue paper, beaters, pulp, and vat-like structures for pulp and machines that take 95% of the moisture out of the pulp and flatten it so that it can been stored in sheets that look and feel like blotting  paper and then treated with substances such as potato starch, clay and/or chalk, depending upon the end use of the paper. We also talk about opacity, smooth laid paper, end leafs, machine grain and bookmarks.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

For more interviews and book reviews

Direct download: David_Curruthers_St._Armand_Papers.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 8:13am EDT

Kathryn Court joined Penguin Books in 1977 and became Editorial Director two years later. In l984 she was named Editor in Chief of Viking Penguin and in 1992 Senior Vice-President, Publisher, and Editor in Chief of Penguin Books. She was named President of Penguin Books in August 2000. Authors she has worked with include: Reinaldo Arenas, Andrea Camilleri, J.M. Coetzee, Slavenka Drakulic, Mary Relinda Ellis, Robert Fagles, Josephine Humphreys, Garrison Keillor, Nora Okja Keller, Donna Leon, Mary McGarry Morris, John Mortimer, Richard Rodriguez, C.J. Samsom, Jim Trelease, and William Trevor.

We met last summer at BookExpo in New York, and talk here about: the role of publisher, artist Chris Ware’s funky Candide cover, new ways of selling things you already own, showing the young that reading can be fun, finding new authors and having faith in them, Andrea Camilleri and the benefit of buying series, hard cover versus soft cover sales, 4000 title backlists that finance front lists, J.M. Coetzee’s greatness, sales and distain for interviewers, the need for confidence in young editors in order to convince others that their picks are as good as they say they are, advertising in book review sections and how it doesn’t work, how emotional novels and those with voices women can identify with sell best, the three million copy selling The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, the sales power of word of mouth, and the joyful intensity of working as part of an editorial team…as a happy few against the world.
Direct download: Kathryn_Court_PresidentPenguin_Books.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 9:11pm EDT


Don’t take my f—ing photograph…

Jamie Byng appreciates and understands that myth and The Bible lie at the core of creative imagination and the Western Canon. He marries this knowledge with a skill for presentation and promotion that few other publishers can match. I met with him at BookExpo in Washington D.C. recently. We talk here about how he does it, about ambiguity, about the responsibility we parents have to make the lives of our children interesting if not easy, and about living without fear. Copyright © 2006 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Jamie_Byng_Publisher_Interview_Washington_BookExpo_May_06_final.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 10:12pm EDT

Here is my interview with Stephen Page (unparalleled name for a) CEO and Publisher of Faber and newly elected British Publishers Association President conducted at The London Bookfair March 2006. We talk about the role and necessity of publishing houses, the impact of the Internet, discounting, supermarkets, ebooks and 3 for 2 bandaids.

Copyright © 2006 by Nigel Beale

Direct download: Stephen_Page_CEO_Faber_final_edit.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 10:10pm EDT

I’ve known Kensel Tracy for 20 years. We met in 1985 when he was in charge of marketing at the Ottawa-Carleton Tourism Commission and I was Membership Director at the Board of Trade.

I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met who is as energetic and creative as Kensel is when it comes to marketing. Over the years he has worked with and helped Ottawa's Festival of Spring, Winterlude, Habitat for Humanity and many other good community causes. More recently he has been a business coach, helping small companies to market their products and services.

About six months ago he decided to self-publish a book called The Ten Commitments to a Better Life containing his thoughts on achieving success. I spoke with him about the steps he took to turn his inspiration into reality.

Direct download: Kensel_Tracy_Interview.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 6:16pm EDT