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Archive for the 'On Book Collecting' Category

September 11th, 2013 • Posted in Alicante, On Book Collecting

Collecting Spanish Book Designers

For all of you book collectors out there visiting Spain and suffering from withdrawl, this post’s for you. Last year I interviewed Emilio Gil author of Pioneers of Spanish Graphic Design with the idea of getting some names to hunt down while visiting bookstores in the land of Cervantes. One of them was Daniel Gil.

As Emilio writes of Daniel’s output from 1959-1966 when he worked designing record jackets for the “Hispavox” label:

 As with other areas of culture, the 60’s represented a graphic alarm call within a stagnant Spanish society. Seen today, the sleeves designed for Hispavox appear as fresh, modern and relevant as they did in their own time.

The musical styles were represented by tinted, over exposed or similarly treated images, with the blocks of disco influenced type representing mixes of colour impossible for the printers of the time to contemplate. The elegant and balanced compositions visible in these cover designs would serve as a testing ground for work begun in 1966 for publishers Alianza Editorial.

What you see here then are some choice

Alianza Editorial


scored this morning from

Libreria Raices in Alicante.

Note how the fonts used for ‘Alianza Editorial’ in each case match those used for the book title. According to Emilio, Daniel had enough clout in the company to insist, successfully, that aesthetics come before branding, instead of sticking with the more usual approach of using a consistent corporate look. Very unlikely you’d ever see this today.

Anatomy of a Kerouac Collector: Audio Interview with Rod Anstee

Anstee and friend

Jack Kerouac is an American icon thanks to his novel On the Road (1957). During the late 1950s, he and fellow members of the Beat generation captured something essential about the American psyche, defining a desire to break away from conformity in search of an alternative form of self-fulfillment. As William S. Burroughs once put it , On the Road  “sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road” (Charters, 1991, xxviii).

One of those kids was Ottawa native Rod Anstee who, at  age 16, hitch-hiked across the continent, part of a life-long relationship he formed with Kerouac that involved collecting his books and letters, connecting with Beat authors, and writing a bibliography.

I met with Rod at his home recently to get the story; to trace the arc of his collecting experience; to understand as best I could, the core anatomy of a book collector.

Please listen to our conversation here:

September 3rd, 2013 • Posted in Nigel Beale's Biblio File Interviews, On Book Collecting

Audio Interview with Alexander Monker on Collecting Canadian Poetry Books

Alexander Monker is an Ottawa-based collector of Canadian poetry. I met recently with him to talk about his passion for these and other books, and to get some advice on the art of book collecting. Please listen here:

June 23rd, 2013 • Posted in Las Vegas, On Book Collecting

Las Vegas Winnings

Who says Vegas is only about gambling. There’s some very decent browsing to be had here. Witness these jackpots from the past week:

Roy Kuhlman jacket (7th Printing, but hey it’s in great shape), Plaza Books.

E. McKnight Kauffer jacket, Academy Books

George Salter jacket, Academy Books

George Salter jacket, Dead Poet Books

E. McKnight Kauffer jacket, Academy Books (second visit)

Alvin Lustig jacket, okay, not from Las Vegas, but Starrlight Books in Flagstaff, AZ, about a four hour drive SE.

ditto this E. McKnight Kauffer jacket, new 1961 edition.

For information on bookstores mentioned in this post, check out the Literary Tourist listings map for Las Vegas here.

November 6th, 2012 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Book collecting: a fascinating, sexy journey of self discovery

Newly elected ILAB President Tom Congalton outlines the goals of his upcoming term:

“Aside from more prosaic goals like balancing the budget, I think my whole term needs to be spent promoting rare books and related materials as what they truly are – fascinating objects that attract some of the world’s most interesting and fascinating people. Quite frankly, book collecting is often thought of as a hermeneutic pursuit, but what it really is [is] an adventure, a treasure hunt, and a fascinating journey of self-discovery. What could be sexier than that? If you attend one of the bigger ILAB sponsored book fairs, you are likely to see famous authors. artists, actors, musicians, filmmakers, and intellectuals. Often perceived by outsiders as a staid and scholarly pursuit, book collecting is and almost always has been a vibrant, exciting and engaging pastime – it’s our job to make others understand that.”

Book collecting is what drives this whole literary tourist enterprise. It’s thanks to the adventure that Tom talks about, the thrill of the hunt, the joy found in meeting (and interviewing) ‘some of the most interesting and fascinating people’ in the world – thanks to this, that the past six/seven years have been among the best and most satisfying in my life. This, in turn, has prompted me to want to  share the experience with others, which, in turn, explains the existence of this website and The Biblio File podcast.


July 11th, 2012 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Video: A Mild Case of Bibliomania

Raymond Russell gently tells the story of his bibliomania, how his book collection has grown and changed over the years, and how it led to the founding of the Tartarus Press, which has published rare work by some of the writers he collects, including Arthur Machen, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Edward Heron-Allen (Christopher Blayre). 

It’s a delightful story which traces the evolution of an interest and passion to a most apt, and satisfying conclusion.

June 18th, 2012 • Posted in On Book Collecting was made for these kind of people…

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Today marks the launching of the new used-book blog, “Get a Spine”, which chronicles two book lovers’ pursuit of used classic literature, and the people they meet and places they go while in search of works to add to their home library.

Inspired in large part by a love of great literature and a strong belief in the importance of physical books and brick-and-mortar bookstores, “Get a Spine” is intended to be as much about the adventure as it is the acquisition. It is the moments of discovery, of surprise, and of joy that often accompany an outing in search of used classics that create a full story, and give the book a life of its own — by the memories associated with the discovery — once it’s in our house.

First post on the newly launched site says:

“Some regular features of ‘Get a Spine’ will include: bookseller reviews from the places we visit; a book events and happenings calendar; a series we’re calling “The Spine Nine,” which asks the different booksellers we encounter the same nine questions about who they are, what they do, etc.; an ‘Inside the Book’ feature detailing the kinds of things one finds between the pages of a used book that aren’t related to the story at all; an ‘Overheard at …’ series, where we post some of the fun/funny/odd/other things we hear in our searching; links to resources and other sites/blogs of interest to used-book seekers; news related to used books and classic literature; and, of course, details about what we find, how we found it, and why we added it to our library. Plus, there will be much more to come as we go.”

At “Get a Spine,” we believe foremost that great works of literature are a supreme form of art, but we also strongly believe that a book, in its physical form, is often a work of art itself. We also believe the books we collect should be read. Our library is not a museum, and we don’t want to live in a world where actual books are only display pieces.

Readers of/visitors to “Get a Spine” will have the opportunity to subscribe to the site to receive new posts when they are added; leave comments and/or suggestions or contact us about bookstores we should visit, editions we are seeking, information on sales, upcoming book events we should list, etc.; read bookseller reviews; view our card catalog; and hopefully get as much out of keeping up with “Get a Spine” as we do putting into it. It’s a celebration of used books, classic literature, and the people who carry the torch for both.

About these people:

Deborah: Has read Pride and Prejudice eight times (once in Spanish). … NaNoWriMo 2008 Winner. … Holds a BA in English because she loves great works of literature, and a Graduate Certificate in Publishing because she needed a job. … Has had library cards in six states and two countries. … Top five favorite novels of all time: Bleak House (Dickens), Pride and Prejudice (Austen), Love in the Time of Cholera (Garcia Marquez), Jane Eyre (Brönte), The Razor’s Edge (Maugham).

Kristian: Grew up in Cooperstown, N.Y., which is famous for being the home of America’s first great and world-renowned novelist, James Fenimore Cooper. And also for the Baseball Hall of Fame. … Once spent an 18th-birthday gift of $100 on used classic novels in Madison, Wis. … Has cataloged and entered holdings for university and state historical society libraries. … Re-discovered his love of spending time with great works of fiction after spending too many years without them.

June 8th, 2012 • Posted in On Book Collecting

CIV/n Magazine

Heck of a Guy.

CIV/n was a Montreal little magazine published between 1953-55, nominally edited by Aileen Collins, but heavily influenced by Louis Dudek and Irving Layton (in whose home editorial meetings were held). The name was taken  from a line about civilization by Ezra Pound: ‘civ/n not a one man job.’ Its seven issues carried poems and reviews (most of the latter written by Dudek and Layton).  CIV/n published the early work of Leonard Cohen, Eli Mandel, Louis Dudek, Robert Creeley, Phyllis Webb, Raymond Souster, Irving Layton, Robert Currie, Gael Turnbull, Avi Boxer, Cid Corman, D.G. Jones, Charles Olson and A.J.M. Smith.

And I got me a copy of Issue Number 6 the other day.

All have very similar, exploding bomb-like images on their covers. All were designed by Stanley Rozynski. I know this because of a conversation I had several weeks ago with Michele Rackham. She has written a PhD thesis entitled Between the Lines: Interartistic Modernism in Canada 1930-1960. It deals in part with the relationship between art and poetry, artists and poets, and how this manifested itself in Canadian, notably Montreal, book and magazine design. Stay tuned for audio on The Biblio File.

The seven issues have been reprinted in Civ/n: a literary magazine of the 50′s (Vehicule, 1983) edited by Aileen Collins, with the assistance of Simon Dardick.


April 30th, 2012 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Hollywood book collectors

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Johnny Depp collects first-editions of works by Jack Kerouac, Arthur Rimbaud, Dylan Thomas and Edgar Allan Poe. Producer Kathleen Kennedy has a prize collection of books on exploration and director Tony Bill has one on aviation. Business manager Bill Tanner goes for  novelizations of silent-era films and screenwriter Jeffrey Fiskin collects the poetry of William Butler Yeats. Other Hollywood bibliophiles including Brad Pitt, Steve Martin,  Whoopi Goldberg, Kelsey Grammer, Sony chief Howard Stringer, director Charles Shyer and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

April 10th, 2012 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Best Canadian Designed Books 2011

If you love books, you might, on occasion, have thought idly about collecting.

Here’s an idea: why not go after beautifully designed Canadian books, starting with 2011?

According to the Alcuin Society, which holds an annual competition for book design, the fundamental principle behind judging which books are best is that each must be considered as a total entity.  Every aspect of each book is considered, 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. This year’s judges were: Stan Bevington, CM, DFA,Printer, publisher, professor,Coach House Books (Toronto, Ontario); Ingrid Paulson, Freelance book designer (Toronto, Ontario) and Bonne Zabolotney,Book designer, typographer, professor,Dean of Design and Dynamic Media, Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Vancouver, BC).

They selected 35 winning titles from 252 entries, from 9 provinces and 103 publishers. This year’s winning books include:


First prize: MICHAEL SOLOMON, designer of A Few Blocks, by Cybèle Young (Groundwood Books)

Limited Editions

First prize (tie): MICHAEL TOROSIAN, designer of Steichen: Eduard et Voulangis, by Michael Torosian & Howard Greenberg (Howard Greenberg Gallery / Lumiere Press)

First prize (tie): NICOLAS MÉNARD, designer of Colorimétrie, by Nicolas Ménard (Nicolas Ménard)

First prize (tie): ELIZABETH BEAUDOIN, designer of Bleu Marin, Book of Poetry, ou, Recueil de poésie, by Elizabeth Beaudoin (Elizabeth Beaudoin)


First prize: JESSICA SULLIVAN, designer of Kesu’ : the Art and Life of Doug Cranmer, by Jennifer Kramer (Douglas & McIntyre / Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia / University of Washington Press)


First prize: ANDREW STEEVES, designer of Curious Masonry, by Christopher Patton (Gaspereau Press Printers & Publishers)

Prose Fiction

First prize: PETER COCKING, designer of The Man Who Killed, by Fraser Nixon (Douglas & McIntyre)

Prose Non-Fiction

First prize: UNDERLINE STUDIO, designers of Blast/Counterblast, edited by Anthony Elms & Steve Reinke (Mercer Union/Whitewalls)

Prose Non-Fiction Illustrated

First prize: ROBERTO DOSIL, designer of Selling Canada, by Daniel Francis (Stanton Atkins & Dosil)