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

David Mason, with boss in the foreground.

I met with David Mason recently to talk about his memoir The Pope's Bookbinder. As the Biblioasis website wordsmiths have it:

"From his drug-hazy, book-happy years near the Beat Hotel in Paris and throughout his career as antiquarian book dealer, David Mason brings us a storied life. He discovers his love of literature in a bathtub at age eleven, thumbing through stacks of lurid Signet paperbacks. At fifteen he’s expelled from school. For the next decade and a half, he will work odd jobs, buck all authority, buy books more often than food, and float around Europe. He’ll help gild a volume in white morocco for Pope John XXIII. And then, at the age of 30, after returning home to Canada and apprenticing with Joseph Patrick Books, David Mason will find his calling."

"David Mason boldly campaigns for what he feels is the moral duty of the antiquarian trade: to preserve the history and traditions of all nations, and to assert without compromise that such histories have value.  The Pope's Bookbinder is an engrossing memoir by a giant in the book trade—whose infectious enthusiasm, human insight, commercial shrewdness, and deadpan humour will delight bibliophiles for decades to come. "

Listen to Part l of our conversation here:

Direct download: David_Mason_final_130928_001.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 8:42pm EDT

Adrian Harrington, Rare Book Seller

Adrian Harrington (born 1948, Chelsea, England) is a noted antiquarian bookseller who specialises in first editions written by Winston Churchill, Arthur Conan Doyle, Graham Greene, J.K.Rowling and, particularly, Ian Fleming. He is a Past President of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA), 2001–2003, and the immediate past President of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). He has exhibited at major international book fairs in America, Canada, Hong Kong, Britain and Ireland, and for the past decade has Chaired Britain's leading rare book event, the summer ABA Book Fair at Olympia, London.. Harrington has been a regular consultant on rare books for Millers Price Guide, and has been interviewed on book-related matters by the BBC, the Daily Mail, Australian Television and now, you guessed it, The Biblio File.

We met late last year at the Toronto Antiquarian Bookfair to talk about the challenges that currently face the antiquarian book trade, notably an aging book collecting and bookseller population, and the resulting closings of many bricks and mortar stores. I start off by asking Adrian what ILAB and others are doing to try to improve the situation.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Adrian_Harrington_040111_01.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 10:29am EDT


Oak Knoll Books – specialists in books on books – was founded in 1976 by Bob Fleck, a chemical engineer by training, who let his hobby get the best of him. Oak Knoll Press, the publishing arm of the business was established two years later.

Today, the thriving company maintains an inventory of about 23,000 titles. Specialities include books about bibliography, book collecting, book design, book illustration, book selling, bookbinding, bookplates, children’s books, Delaware books, fine press books, forgery, graphic arts, libraries, literary criticism, marbling, papermaking, printing history, publishing, typography & type specimens, and writing & calligraphy – plus books about the history of all of these fields.

I met  with Bob recently to talk about the story of his company, about his love of books, of A. Edward Newton, of traveling the globe to meet fellow bibliophiles, of visiting used bookstores, and of the plan Bob has to partner with Between the Covers, The Kelmscott Bookshop, and The Old Bookshop of Bordentown,  to convert the second story of his existing premises into a new store called The Bookshop in Old New Castle. Grand Opening: May 1 (Click here to see a slide-show of the remodeling process). Please listen here:


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Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Bob_Fleck_1_800130_01.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 11:30am EDT

What’s the dif­fer­ence between a First Edi­tion, a Fine Press Edi­tion and an Artists’ Book? Joshua and Phyl­lis Heller work with me to help define the bound­ar­ies. 

The two of them estab­lished Joshua Heller Rare Books, Inc. in Wash­ing­ton DC, in 1985. The com­pany spe­cial­izes in “con­tem­por­ary fine print­ing and beau­ti­fully illus­trated books, the Private Press Move­ment, mod­ern fine bind­ings, and books about books. [Their] much admired cata­logues, illus­trated in full color, are dis­trib­uted to a national and inter­na­tional list of cli­ents.”

Joshua has lec­tured widely in the United States and Canada on the art of the book. He helped organ­ize the Art of the Con­tem­por­ary Book Con­fer­ence at Ohio State Uni­ver­sity in 1991, and has: con­trib­uted art­icles on the Private Press Move­ment to journ­als such as Fine Print and Imprint; and cur­ated exhib­i­tions of South African botan­ical artist Elise Bod­ley, both for the Smith­so­nian Museum of Nat­ural His­tory and the Audu­bon Soci­ety; he also pro­posed the first Wash­ing­ton Artists’ Book Fair – now a bien­nial event; and organ­ized the first ever exhib­i­tion of fine mod­ern bind­ings at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Wash­ing­ton DC in 2003.

I met the Hellers at their home in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. recently. Please listen here to our conversation

(* The Fisher Lib­rary referred to by Josh is loc­ated at the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto. Here’s the link)

Direct download: Joshua_Heller_Boost.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 6:56pm EDT

Clarke’s Bookshop, the most famous in Cape Town, specializes in selling southern African books to universities and libraries that teach and have an interest in same. Established in 1956 by Anthony Clarke, the Long Street shop today remains much the same as it was 50 plus years ago:  filled with book-lined, wooden-floored rooms spread over two levels containing an eclectic mix of new and used, rare, out-of-print, academic and popular books sold to customers local and institutions foreign. Catalogues filled with books from among other countries Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and South Africa itself, go out to the likes of Yale University, the Smithsonian Institute and the African Studies Centre in Holland, twice a year.

I spoke recently with owner Henrietta Dax who for more than thirty years has ventured forth annually to Mozambique,  the US, the UK, and other more exotic locales buying, selling, bartering and stockpiling  books she thinks will appeal to her customers. Please listen here:

Direct download: Henrietta_Dax.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 10:49am 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

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

Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library, founded in 1946, is a not-for-profit organization for people interested in books and libraries. Its purpose is to stimulate public interest in the library, purchase library materials, and support other cultural and educational programs in Tompkins County. Each year since inception the Friends have held a book sale in Ithaca New York.

It now ranks among the ten largest (250,000 to 300,000 books, CDs, records, etc. per year) in the United States.

Beryl Barr

is the currently in charge of the Book Sale. I talked with her recently, and asked her to give listeners her top ten hints on how best to run a used book sale.

Here’s our conversation:

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Beryl_Barr_Ithaca_Book_Sale.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 5:08pm EDT

Listen here to my conversation with Craig Poile, co-owner of Collected Works, a successful, innovative independent bookstore based in Ottawa, Canada. We talk, among others things, about a rudimentary webcam-teleconferencing system dubbed ‘Great Talking Head,’ that Craig has set up to get big name authors, such as Julian Barnes and Peter Carey, and their fans, together in his bookstore; about bookseller-publisher relations, in-store writing workshops and print-on-demand.
Direct download: Craig_Poile_Collected_Works.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 4:11pm EDT

Haslam’s Books, now Florida’s largest new & used book store, was established in St. Petersburg in 1933 by two avid readers, John and Mary Haslam. After World War II they were joined by the second generation, Charles and Elizabeth. The business began to expand. In response to customers’ requests, new technical books were added, then Bibles and religious books and finally a complete line of trade books and a large section for children. The business has moved four times to accommodate growth. Today the store covers 30,000 square feet and contains some 300,000 books.

To promote books and reading, Charles had a television program on WEDU, the local PBS station, called "The Wonderful World of Books," and reviewed books on WSUN radio. He also appeared as a regular guest on WTOG-TV. Elizabeth operated book fairs at local schools for 25 years and now conducts "field trips" of ‘Florida’s largest book store’ for elementary classes. Both have been active in the American Bookseller’s Association (Charles was president from 1978 - 1980). They have taught in Bookseller Schools and written chapters in "The Manual of Bookselling." Both are published authors.

In 1973, the third generation came into the business: daughter Suzanne (who also authored a chapter in the "Manual on Bookselling") and husband Ray Hinst a history, classics & military expert. Ray and I talk here about book re-printers, early Baedekers, not collecting your own inventory, the explosion in self publishing and authors who want bookstores to carry their works and provide signing events, collecting what you like, and the error of passing up on buying opportunities.
Direct download: Ray_Hinst_Haslams.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 10:42pm EDT