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

I met recently with Kristi Beer from Inprint Houston, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring readers and writers in Houston, Texas. Founded in 1983, Inprint fulfills its mission through the nationally renowned Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, the Cool Brains! Reading Series for Young People, literary and educational activities in the community that demonstrate the value and impact of creative writing, and support for the Univeristy of Houston Creative Writing Program.  These programs and events play a vital role contributing to Houston's rich and diverse cultural life.

Who better then to question about how the Literary Tourist might best spend his or her time in Houston.

Direct download: Beer_Houston_things_to_do_ZOOM0013.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 2:54pm EDT

Randall Speller was for 29 years a librarian in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Combining his career in art librarianship with an interest in Canadian literature and book collecting, he has done extensive research into the history of Canadian book illustration and design, especially in the years following World War II. Randall is a contributing editor to the DA: a Journal of the Printing Arts, where he has written several influential articles on book illustration and design.

Randall is also an accomplished painter. His work focuses largely on Victoria County, part of his longstanding interest in representing an area of Ontario that his family has had connections to since the 1840s. As his website puts it: "Capturing the essential qualities of this landscape has engaged him for more than 30 years. His subjects are the constructed elements of landscape and buildings that are shaped by people, by weather, by light and by time."

Please listen here as we engage in a conversation about the history of Canadian book design, and the importance of book collecting to Canadian, and indeed all cultures.

Direct download: Randall_Speller120718_003_22hz.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 5:03pm EDT

Houston's Museum of Printing History was founded in 1979 by Raoul Beasley, Vernon P. Hearn, Don Piercy, and J. V. Burnham, four printers with a passion  for preserving their various printing-related collections and sharing them with the community.  Chartered in 1981 the Museum had its official opening in 1982 with Dr. Hans Halaby, Director of the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, cutting the ribbon.  The mission of the Museum is to promote, preserve, and share the knowledge of printed communication and art as the greatest contributors to the development of the civilized world and the continuing advancement of freedom and literacy. It does this through an active, on-going exhibitions program, and a series of book arts workshops.

I met with Musuem Curator Amanda Stevenson this past summer to talk about the collection. During our conversation she delivers a very informative thumb-nail sketch of how relief and intaglio printing techniques work.

Direct download: Stephenson_Houston_Printing_History_Musuem_ZOOM0011.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 11:53am EDT

In 1927, Ben Bass opened Strand Book Store on Fourth Avenue, home of New York’s legendary Book Row. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row, which started in the 1890’s and ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor.  I recently asked current owner Nancy Bass Wyden why.

Direct download: Nancy_Bass_Strand.mp3
Category:Booksellers -- posted at: 9:52am EDT


Project Bookmark Canada is a national charitable organization that marks places where real and imagined landscapes meet. It does this by installing poster sized ceramic plaques - called Bookmarks - in the exact physical locations where literary scenes are set.

Its mission is to develope a network of hundreds of Bookmarks in cities, towns and other areas across the country, allowing Canadians and visitors the chance to read their way across Canada. Its mandate is to promote Canadian writers and writing, to invite readers to Canadian spaces and to encourage reading and literacy through a permanent, prominent exhibit of stories and poems set in Canada. I caught up with its founder Miranda Hill recently at what has developed into one the most exciting literary destinations/activities in Canada: the Kingston Writers Festival.

Please listen here to the story of Bookmark Canada, and how you can participate.

Direct download: Miranda_Hill_120930_002.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 1:15pm EDT

Adam Barrows is a Professor in the English Department at Carleton University in Ottawa. The focus of his research for the last eight years has been the relationship between time, literary modernism, and imperialism. His background is in the history of science and his theoretical approach to literature is largely historical materialist, drawing heavily on the Western Marxist tradition, from the Frankfurt School to Raymond Williams and Henri Lefebvre.

Growing out of his interest in twentieth-century British literature he recently led a seminar on the Hogarth Press, as he puts it "one of the most important venues for the production and dissemination of the experimental writings that would come to define the modernist literary canon. Their express purpose was to enable the publication of works that would otherwise never have found a home in the conventional publishing industry, including their own.

In addition to publishing such central works of literary modernism as T.S. Eliot’s Poems (1919) and The Waste Land (1923), Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room (1922) and Katherine Mansfield’s Prelude (1918), the Hogarth Press was also committed to the publication of radically dissident anti-imperialist works such as Leonard Woolf’s own Imperialism and Civilization (1928), Lord Oliver’s The Anatomy of African Misery (1928), Edward John Thompson’s The Other Side of the Medal (1925) and C.L.R. James’s The Case for West-Indian Self Government (1933)."

We met recently to talk about Virginia and Leonard Woolf and the history and output of the Hogarth Press.

Direct download: Adam_Barrows_Hogarth_edit_80kb120706_001.mp3
Category:Publisher's Histories -- posted at: 12:37pm EDT

Terry Cook received a Ph.D. in Canadian History from Queen's University, 1977. From 1975 to 1998, he worked at the then Public, later National, Archives of Canada, leaving as the senior manager responsible for directing the appraisal and records disposition program for all media. In his long and distinguished career there, he was responsible for the development of policies and methodologies which dramatically altered the national archival system.

In 1998, he founded Clio Consulting Inc., and since then has worked for national, municipal, and academic archives, as well as archival associations, around the world. He also took on the position  of Associate Professor for the Archival Studies Program in the Department of History at the University of Manitoba.

He has authored over 80 articles which have been published in Archivaria (two of his contributions being awarded the W. Kay Lamb Prize) and other leading archival journals.  He is the author of The Archival Appraisal of Records Containing Personal Information: A RAMP Study With Guidelines (1991) and co-editor of Imagining Archives: Essays and Reflections by Hugh A. Taylor (2003).

He has also contributed to the archival community greatly in his editing of scholarly journals and his participation in various professional associations.

We met recently in Ottawa to discuss the cuts to, and neglect of, Library and Archives Canada. Among other things we talk about the challenges facing all libraries and archives, conflicting mandates, the differences between born and made digital material,  the importance of source documents, and the current absence of any 'real' exhibition programming at LAC.

Direct download: Terry_Cook_LAC_ZOOM0001_3.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 8:50am EDT

Véhicule Press is re-releasing a series of Montreal Noir titles.

As weird as it might seem today, people from New York used to come up to Montreal for a good time. Gambling houses, drugs, clubs, fast women...Montreal was one of the coolest places to be in post-war North America. Fun, racy, naughty...for a few fleeting years Montreal had a real Noir vibe.  A handful of cheap, disposable novels captured this era in ways that more main stream novels never could. According to literary historian Brian Busby, their colour and detail provide an important historical record. These nine pulp fiction paperbacks documented the landscape and life of the period in an exciting, unusual way. They've since been largely ignored by historians and, in some cases, hidden by their authors.  I met recentlywith Busby to talk about Sugarpuss on Dorchester Street, The Executioner and other such titles, and why this series of paperbacks is worthy of our attention.

Direct download: Brian_Busby_Montreal_Noir_ZOOM0001_2.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 10:42pm EDT


While there is no ‘great Houston Novel,’ a lot of good stories  have come out of the city, many of which are told in David Theis’s Literary Houston, an anthology of writing on and about 'the Bayou city'. Stories, because Houston is a place where people come to DO things.  ‘To fly to the moon, create empires, build fortresses against cancer, and temples to surrealism’ as Theis puts it. I met him recently at a cafe just of Houston's busy Westheimer street. Seems like everwhere we moved something or someone very noisy decided to followed us. Still, we had an interesting conversation. Hope you enjoy it.

Direct download: Literary_Houston_Complete_ZOOM0009.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 6:28pm EDT

Michele Rackham is a post doctoral fellow at Trent University. She is currently working on a digital catalogue raisonne of P.K. Irwin's (a.k.a P.K. Page) artwork that will  accompany a print art book to be published by the Porcupine's Quill. Rackham recently completed a PhD at McGill University. The title of her thesis is Between the Lines, Interartistic Modernism in Canada 1930-1960.

We met recently to talk about 20th Canadian book design, and the important work that artist Betty Sutherland did for the Contact Press designing book covers during the 1950s.

Direct download: Michele_Rackham_CompleteZOOM0007_2.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 10:08am EDT