Thursday, December 14, 2006

Anne McMaster (Carson) Yandle, 1930-2006

Anne Carson was born in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, on the 29th of December, 1930 and died at the Windermere Hospice on the 12th of December, 2006. After obtaining her degree in Commerce in Dublin, she came to Canada. She worked as a library assistant for Vancouver Public Library before leaving to attend McGill Library School. After graduation in 1961, Anne was hired, along with two classmates, to work in the University of British Columbia Library. She worked in Special Collections, which Basil Stuart-Stubbs confidently left her in charge when he became University Librarian. Anne was responsible for the development of the many fine collections, including British Columbia and Canadian history, early children’s literature, and for encouraging her colleagues to build the manuscript collections, University Archives, and the historical maps and cartographic archives, and she was one of the first librarians to see the value of ephemera and alternative literature.

Anne built up relationships with both the antiquarian and new book dealers around the province, and with leading dealers around the world. On her sabbatical year, she spent six months working with dealers in England, and six months at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, New Zealand. She was one of the founding members of the Special Collections Interest Group of the Canadian Library Association, and served as President of the Council of the Bibliographical Society of Canada.

Anne was very well-known in the Irish community in Vancouver, and provided a home-away-from-home for many visitors and new residents. When it became known that a special reproduction of the Book of Kells was to be undertaken, the Irish in Vancouver gathered money to buy a copy for Special Collections, and had a special stand built to display the book.

Anne was well known, and well thought of, across the campus, and around the city and province. When she took early retirement in December 1991 many people from the Library, SLAIS, the Irish community in Vancouver, book dealers and others from off-campus were in attendance. She was active in her retirement in the Alcuin Society, the Bibliographical Society of Canada, the British Columbia Historical Society – later the British Columbia Historical Federation (continuing her interest in the British Columbia Historical News now British Columbia History which Anne and her husband Phil had founded), the Friends of Vancouver City Archives, and the Friends of the British Columbia Archives, the Friends of Simon Fraser University Library and running Marco Polo Books. Anne left us with one of the most notable special collections in North America, a wonderful collection that should be the pride-and-joy of the University of British Columbia.

Prepared by Frances Woodward

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Letterpress and Lightning, with Alisa Golden

The Book Arts and Special Collections Center of the San Francisco Public Library Presents:

Letterpress and Lightning, with Alisa Golden

The 12th annual Book Arts & Special Collections Center Holiday Lecture will showcase noted local printmaker and writer Alisa Golden, who will deliver an engaging presentation on letterpress printing on Sunday, December 10, at the Main Library.

Golden, who has used letterpress printing for the past 23 years, will show and read from a selection of her letterpress editions and recent hand-painted books. She will talk about the funny, strange, and emotional things that turn into those books: a love story that includes squashes; memories of a loved one lost; dreams; a nest in a dryer vent;
and others.

Golden teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Center for the Book and the Harding After School Enrichment Program (El Cerrito). She is the author of three instructional books, including her recent Expressive Handmade Books (New York: Sterling, 2005). Alisa's books are in the Center's Grabhorn Collection.

Sponsored by the Library's Marjorie G. & Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center, Letterpress and Lightning will be presented 3:00-5:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 10, in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room B, at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Civic Center.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information, please call (415) 557-4560.

Asa Peavy, Program Manager
Marjorie G. & Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center
San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
T: 415.557.4560
F: 415.437.4849

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Shakespeare Facsimile

Limited Edition Facsimile

The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608 is one of the Folger Shakespeare Library's greatest treasures. Aside from Shakespeare's First Folio, it is the only book in the Folger collection to have an entire exhibition devoted to it, in 2004. Its 594 oversized pages depict life in Shakespeare's England in all of its brilliant complexities—from the mythical to the mundane, poetical to practical, religious to secular.
Thomas Trevelyon, the compiler, was a skilled scribe and pattern-maker who had access to a stunning variety of English and Continental woodcuts, engravings, broadsides, almanacs, chronicles, and emblem books, which he transformed from small monochrome images into large and colorful feasts for the eyes. Ostensibly created for the entertainment, education, and edification of his friends and family, Trevelyon's miscellany is a lifetime achievement that continues to delight and mystify modern audiences, with its familiar scenes of domesticity and husbandry intertwined with epic Protestant and political epitomes: accounts of the rulers of England and the Gunpowder Plot, descriptions of local fairs, the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and astronomy according to Ptolemy, illustrations of the nine muses and the seven deadly sins, of Old Testament history and household proverbs, and whimsical flowers, alphabets, and embroidery patterns.

This massive volume provides an exciting and unparalleled snapshot of the passions, concerns, and everyday interests of a highly talented London commoner and for this reason is of significant scholarly and general interest. It is a monumental work that was intended to be both studied and enjoyed, its pages turned and savored. For the first time since its arrival at the Folger in 1945, a generous gift from Lessing Rosenwald, this is now possible thanks to state-of-the-art conservation and high resolution digitization by Luna Imaging.

This limited edition, full-size facsimile of the entire manuscript is being produced to celebrate the Folger Shakespeare Library's 75th anniversary in 2007. It complements the only other extant work by Thomas Trevelyon, his Great book (1616), parts of which were published in facsimile for members of the Roxburghe club, London, in 2002.

Limited Edition
950 copies, printed on archival paper, smythe sewn and bound in cloth-wrapped boards with a reinforced spine and full-color dust jacket.
Price: $900 Canadian

For further information on the Canadian availability and distribution of this publication please contact George Maddison, Associate Director of the UBC Press at (604) 822-2053 or e-mail him at

Shinsuke Minegishi Exhibition


Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers is pleased to present the first one-person exhibition in the United States of the work of printmaker & wood engraver Shinsuke Minegishi.

The show will be on display at Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers from November 2-December 30, 2006. It will feature a variety of Minegishi’s work including wood engravings for limited edition books; prints in which he employs both lithographs and wood engraving techniques; and simple wood engravings.

Shinsuke Minegishi is a Japanese printmaker and wood engraver living in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1970 and moved to North America in 1993. He graduated with a Diploma in Fine Arts from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 1998, and has been a lecturer and instructor there since that time. He has also been a member of the Malaspina Printmaker’s Society in Vancouver since 1998.

Minigishi has received two grants through the Canada Council for the Arts; has been the subject of solo and two-person shows in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Vancouver; and has been included in group exhibitions throughout Canada and Japan. He has received many awards for his work, including the ‘Grand Prize’ at the 4th Kyoto International Woodprint Association Exhibition in 2003.

To accompany the exhibit, Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers is publishing an original essay by the artist in a limited edition; a small number of which will contain an editioned print by the artist.

Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers is at 208 First Avenue South in Seattle, Washington. Phone 206-682-3545 or 888-383-3631 (toll free). E-mail:

Relief Print Exhibtion

October 24th to November 26th, 2006

This exhibition of woodcuts, wood engravings and linocuts culls rarely displayed treasures from the extensive collection of the City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection and SFU’s Malaspina Archives.

Also, five invited artists, each with a distinct style and purpose, show that this old, assertive art form has lost none of its appeal, to both creators and viewers.

Shinsuke Minegishi’s elegantly combined woodcuts and engravings detail nature’s minutiae and a structured balance of Eastern and Western aesthetics. Jim Rimmer’s linocuts, bodly and honestly complementing his limited edition books with custom-designed type, forge an unbroken link back to Gutenberg. Graham Scholes’, luminous, intricate Moku Hanga woodblocks depict B.C.’s disappearing lighthouses in a careful and caring achievement of historic and aesthetic value. Richard Tetrault’s linos and woodcuts of the Downtown Eastside meld socio/political concerns and activism with sheer visual beauty and a muralist’s power. Raymond Verdaguer’s linocut newspaper and magazine illustrations deliver small packages with immense impact, letting creativity loose under severe constraints.

Burnaby Art Gallery
6344 Deer Lake Avenue,
Burnaby, B.C.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Alcuin Society And Other Book-Related Events In The Pacific Northewest For Fall 2006

For full details (printable pdf format) click here.

Yes, We Can Print That!: 25 Years of the Day Moon Press
Now until October 28th, 2006
Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers, Seattle

Vancouver Book & Magazine Fair, aka Word on the Street
Sunday, September 24TH, 2006, 11am-6pm.
The Vancouver Public Library

Speaker: Derek Hayes
Monday, October 2, 2006 @ 7:30pm.
The Vancouver Public Library

Korean Printing Exhibition
October 5th – October 7th, 2006
The Vancouver Public Library

Speaker: David Carlin
Wednesday, October 11th, 2006, 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue

Speaker: Nicholas Basbane
Friday, October 13th, 2006, 6pm for a 7pm dinner and 8pm presentation.
McCormick & Schmick’s Harborside Restaurant, 1200 Westlake Avenue North, Seattle, Washington.
Seattle Center Pavilion

The Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival

Tuesday, October 17th to Sunday, October 22, 2006 (six full days of events)
Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C. (several venues)

Speaker: Jeff Derksen
Thursday, October 19th, 2006, 12:30p.m. to 1:30p.m.
Special Collections & Rare Books, Simon Fraser University Library

Surrey International Writer’s Conference 2006
Friday, October 21st to Sunday, October 23rd, 2006
The Sheraton Guildford Hotel, 15269 104th Avenue, Surrey, B.C.

Speaker: Michael Kluckner
Wednesday, November 8th, 2006, 7:30 p.m.
The Vancouver Public Library

Speaker: Annabel Lyon
Thursday, November 16th, 2006, 12:30p.m. to 1:30p.m.
Special Collections & Rare Books, Simon Fraser University Library

The Alcuin Society’s Annual Book Auction
Saturday, November 18th, 11am for lunch at 12pm followed by a book auction.
The University Golf Club, University Boulevard, Vancouver, B.C.

The Jewish Book Festival for 2006
November 18th to November 23rd, 2006
The Jewish Community Center at the corner of Oak and 41st.

Speaker: Robert Bringhurst
Friday, November 24th, 7:30 p.m.
The Vancouver Public Library

Rimmerfest: An Evening Devoted to Celebrate Jim Rimmer and his many contributions to the book arts.
Saturday, November 25th, 2006, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Simon Fraser University, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Sidney, B.C. Christmas Writers’ Festival 2006.
November 24th-November 26th, 2006
Sidney, B.C.

West Vancouver Memorial Library Books and Printing Exhibition
December 1 – 31, 2006
West Vancouver Memorial Public Library

Again, for full details (printable pdf format) click here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

More book theft

The Guardian points to another article about book theft:
Smiley, a 50-year-old US dealer in rare maps and known for his impeccable blazers and scholarly demeanour, pleaded guilty in a US federal court this year to stealing 97 rare maps, worth £1.6m, including the Apian, from the British Library and leading US institutions. He had been armed only with a razor blade. Now the British Library is demanding that US authorities throw the book at Smiley, saying he stole three other maps, worth in total £47,000, from the library and that by razoring the rare 1520 Apian map from a volume owned by Cranmer - a key Turdor figure - he was guilty of "ripping at the heart" of a public institution.
If you find this story interesting, you might want to take a look at Miles Harvey's The Island of Lost Maps: a True Story of Cartographic Crime. The book / map thief detailed in this book was actually involved in thefts in Vancouver.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Library on guard with old books


Collectors are trying to acquire some simple but nostalgic volumes.

Those of a certain age may remember with fondness the books of their youth – those sweet, innocent boys’ and girls’ adventure books from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Pure as the driven snow, they were – their characters didn’t use drugs, have sex or cuss.

The Allen County Public Library has an estimated 10,000 books in its collection that fit this general description, said Associate Director Steve Fortriede. And a strange thing is starting to happen – demand for these relics appears to be on the increase, elevating them almost to collectors’ status. And that is forcing the library to rethink how it’s going to protect books it didn’t even realize had that much value.

For example, Fortriede recently received a letter from a book collector seeking to buy the library’s copy of “Secret of Thunder Mountain,” written by Norvin Pallas and copyrighted in 1951. The dealer was willing to pay $100 for the small hardbound book with yellowed pages. Fortriede guessed the dealer was trying to assemble a collection for a client. He said if a dealer was willing to pay $100, a client might have been willing to pay double that amount.

At one time the library would have classified the book as a “fifth-to-eighth-grade boys’ book,” Fortriede said.

The letter from the dealer wasn’t a random missive. Fortriede said the library has received three letters seeking the same types of books in the last couple of months. He sees a trend.

So who’s buying these books?

Two types of people. They’re in demand with a lot of home-schoolers, Fortriede said, many of whom choose books from this era for their children to read because they don’t want to have to worry about any objectionable material. Then there are the collectors, who appear to be driven by nostalgia.

Modern technology has made it easier for collectors and dealers to find out-of-print books. Many use WorldCat, a worldwide library cooperative Web site, to locate specific books. Then they can try to persuade a library to sell its copy.

Or they can seek an interlibrary loan – for example, a library system elsewhere would borrow a book from the Allen County Public Library. Libraries do this routinely, but Fortriede fears savvy collectors will get their hands on one of these books and then never return it, opting to pay a minimal fee for the lost book when they know it’s really worth much more.

Fortriede said the library may have to restrict some of these books from interlibrary loans, but the problem lies in figuring out which of the 10,000 are likely to be stolen, and which aren’t. He also suggested the library might put a higher replacement price on the more valuable books to discourage people from “losing” them and paying the fee.

Another option is providing people with photocopies of the books. Some people don’t want the actual copy, they just want to read the book, and photocopying or digitizing the books will suffice. Some books of this genre are still in print – such as the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series – so theft of those is not a concern.

The more obscure “Secret of Thunder Mountain” is a different story. Fortriede declined the dealer’s offer. “We have a policy we never sell the last copy of anything,” he said. That’s what makes the depth and breadth of the library’s collection so impressive, he said.

However, he didn’t plan to put the “Secret of Thunder Mountain” back on the shelf, either. It may end up in the library’s rare books collection.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Designers at the Design Exchange

From the Quill and Quire website:
The Alcuin Awards for book design were officially handed out earlier this year in Vancouver, but the organizers decided to hold a smaller reception in Toronto on July 13 that also coincided with the start of an [sic] book design exhibit at the Design Exchange.
To see a pictures from this event, click here.

Reading: a Canadian astronaut’s adventure of a lifetime

Catherine Fortin Major, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, August 28, 2006

In the next few days, Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean will blast off into space for the second time in his life. Aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis destined for the International Space Station, MacLean will become the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm2 and the second to perform a spacewalk.


If you bumped into Steve MacLean at your local public library, you probably wouldn’t guess that he is an accomplished laser physicist, or a career astronaut for that matter. His profession may be surprising to some because MacLean’s well-rounded attitude and his appreciation for literature defy the common stereotype of the narrowly-focused and introverted scientist. In fact, Steve credits his passion for science to the sense of adventure that was instilled in him at a very young age through reading. “You start reading,” he says, “and it becomes the adventure of a lifetime if you continue to do it.”

MacLean claims his many trips as a child to the Ottawa Public Library to read books like Treasure Island, Sinbad and the Seven Seas and Never Cry Wolf inspired him to want to be a part of something meaningful and special as an adult. He also credits reading to allowing him to see the bigger picture in life and getting a better understanding of different points of view and cultures.

“Reading had a huge impact on my space career,” says MacLean. “And I find that people who read a lot—even among the astute engineers and scientists here at the Space Agency—are often the most interesting people.”

Contrary to many of his present colleagues, MacLean admits that his desire to be an astronaut did not originate as a child. Instead, it was his co-workers in the science field who encouraged him to apply to the Space Program in 1984. In fact, when Steve wasn’t in the library, he spent much of his time in the gym and eventually earned himself a spot on the Canadian National Gymnastics Team. One day, he wondered how good he could become at something else if he worked as hard at it as he did with gymnastics. So he decided to try a little experiment where he studied mathematics as hard as he could and read up on everything that was related to that subject. Needless to say, he eventually became pretty good at math and decided to make a career out of it.

Despite focusing his academic studies on math and science, MacLean says reading has had, and continues to have, an important place in his life and played a central role in developing him as the well-rounded person that he has come to be. As a graduate student at York University, Steve admits to taking breaks from his technical study in the computer labs by going to the library, which was next door. There, he would make his way to the mountain climbing or Arctic explorer sections, open any book at random, and learn about something new that was totally unrelated to his scientific course of study. MacLean saw this as a relaxation break as well as an opportunity to advance his career by helping him “better relate in the world,” as he puts it.

And being able to “better relate in the world” is precisely why MacLean feels reading is so critical to a child’s development. “Reading really has made a difference for me,” he says, “and it’s really why I want to be a part of what the Canadian libraries are doing.” Steve’s latest projects involve an essay contest for students aged nine to fourteen titled, “Launch Your Future with Reading,” as well as the conception of an electronic library for children’s space-related works and other educational materials which will be housed on the Canadian Space Agency website. By participating in projects like these, the astronaut hopes that young people will make the link between reading, science and creativity, and realize that reading can have a huge impact on their future, as it did with his.

Specifically, MacLean’s message to students is that you don’t have to be an Einstein to succeed. “You just have to be a journeyman who works hard,” he says. And according to MacLean, to be a true journeyman or journeywoman you have to hit up your local public library and read. Through his work with the public libraries, Steve hopes kids will learn that seeing the big picture and understanding how and why people think differently is forever beneficial, regardless of the career—or planet—you choose to work on.


For more information about the Launch Your Future with Reading Contest, visit the CLA website at, and for more information about Steve MacLean and his mission, visit the Canadian Space Agency website at

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

History and Process of Paper Marbling ( BC Book Arts Guild)

Monday Sept 11, 7.30 pm
Peter Kaye Room, VPL Central Branch, 350 W. Georgia

Slide presentation will begin with images of the earliest forms of paper making: Japanese suminagashi, Turkish ebru, Persian abri and Indian stencil silhouettes.

2nd Annual Powell River Studio Tour

The Powell River Studio Tour features 148 artists at 31 locations on the week-end of August 26 and 27 at the end of the Blackberry Festival. Studios will be open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day.

The Studio Tour provides visitors with the opportunity to experience the diversity and excellence of the art community in the area along with the spectacular beauty nature has bestowed.

The Tour is free and self-guided. A free, keep-sake ‘Passport’ includes examples of the work of each artist or gallery participating in the Tour and a map of where studios are located. Studio Tour Passports are available at

  • the Visitor’s Centre in the plaza at Joyce & Alberni
  • Artique Artist Co-operative (4722 Marine)
  • Tug-ghum Gallery (Lund Hotel) or
  • Sunspot Gallery (9398 Hwy 101 South of Town)

Alternately, a Directory and maps of the studios and galleries can be printed from this website.

Powell River had its first area-wide studio tour in August, 2005. Organized by Alfred Muma, a well-known local artist, the Tour included 28 locations representing over 50 artists. With an estimated 244 people taking the Tour, it was deemed a success and the decision was made to make it an annual event.

For more information visit the 2nd Annual Powell River Studio Tour website.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rimmerfest: A Celebration of the Life and Work of Jim Rimmer

Call for Broadsides

Each year, The Special Collections & Rare Books Department at Simon Fraser
University (SFU) convenes a special book-related event. This year we are pleased to celebrate our good friend and one of Canada’s living national treasures, the printer, typographer and publisher, Jim Rimmer.

Jim’s career stretches back over fifty years and he has made many friends along the way, both at home and abroad: printers, type designers, publishers, students, teachers, design firms, binders, type founders, librarians, book collectors. . . . Since many of these people are printers, we are inviting their participation in this public event by producing a broadside celebrating . . . Jim. The broadside may be any size and could include an anecdote or tribute, for example, and should include a signed colophon. We would like to have three copies of each broadside: two will be given to Jim; the third will reside in SFU’s Special Collections Department, which holds Rimmer’s archives. We will need all broadsides in hand by October 31, 2006.

You may also send personal greetings, and best wishes in any form you choose. In which case please send three copies by October 31, 2006.

The broadsides and greetings will be gathered then presented to Jim during the evening of the Rimmerfest, which will take place on 25 November at Simon Fraser University Vancouver Fletcher Challenge Theatre (515 West Hastings St.)at 7:30 p.m. Robert Bringhurst, among others, will speak at this celebratory event. All are welcome.

The broadsides and the greetings should be sent to

Eric L. Swanick, Special Collections Department
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6
tel: 604 291 4626
fax: 604 291 3023

Friday, July 21, 2006

From Writer to Reader: Thirteenth Annual Oak Knoll Book Fest

Please be our guest at the 13th annual Oak Knoll Book Fest. It is an international celebration of the book arts offering a unique adventure for fine book lovers, collectors and those simply wanting to learn more about the book arts by intermingling with fine-press book traditionalists and artists. Bringing in forty different fine-presses from around the world, Oak Knoll Fest is the largest Fine-Press exhibition in North America, providing a truly rare opportunity for you to come peruse and enjoy the work of the fine-press world.

This coming Autumn is sure to bring a great Fest and be an exciting time for the book arts in New Castle, Delaware. The Fest will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 7th and 8th, 2006. This is the perfect time to visit us here in Delaware.

For more information go to and click on Oakknoll Fest XIII.

Book Launch and Exhibition

On Thursday August 3rd, Robert Chaplin, winner of 2nd place in the Children's division of the latest Alcuin Society Book Design Awards, will be launching his newest project, The Elephant Book. The book launch will be held at the Elissa Cristall gallery, 2245 Granville St., Vancouver.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Opening reception of the exhibition of the 2005 national Alcuin Award-winning books

The Alcuin Society invites you to
the opening reception of the exhibition
of the 2005 national Alcuin Award-winning books

Thursday July 13, 6–8 pm
Design Exchange
234 Bay Street

Awards for this year’s Ontario Alcuins will be presented by
Martin Levin, books editor, The Globe & Mail

There will also be a panel discussion to consider:
the Small Miracle of Fabulous Books that Manage
to Get Written, Designed, Nursed and Battered through
the Publishing and Production Process, and
Make it Through to the Reader with Some Measure of
Dignity and Beauty Intact

Canada’s books that placed in the prestigious
“Best Book Design from all over the World”
competition in Leipzig will be on display as well

Refreshments will be served
for information:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Method for Dating Prints and Books

Blair Hedges, professor of biology at Penn State, will soon publish a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. Hedges has determined that wood and metal materials used in the printing process degrade at a steady rate, and that this degradation is visible in the prints themselves:
Hedges, a biologist whose hobby involves Renaissance prints and maps, developed his "print clock" method by first measuring time-related changes in 2,674 Renaissance works. He found that the number of breaks in the lines of images printed from woodblock carvings increased over time, while the image intensity became more pale in copperplate prints. "Because woodblocks and copperplates were expensive to replace, they commonly were reused for decades to produce multiple editions of a book or print," Hedges said. His methods include taking digital photographs of the prints, which he analyzes with standard statistical methods and with widely used image-analysis software. Working with black-and-white pixels, the software can detect and count breaks in the lines of woodblock prints and can measure fading of the etched and engraved lines of copperplate prints.
For the full article, click here. (Via Boing Boing).

From Writer to Reader: CBBAG Online Book Exhibit

From the B.C. Book Arts Guild Electronic Newsletter:
The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild presents Personal Visions: Engaging With the Book, an online exhibit by five artists, including B.C.’s very own Terry Rutherford.

From exuberant funkiness to quiet elegance, the range of artists’ books is broad, but all combine the familiarity of the book form with the unexpected use of materials, structures, and content. In part, the wide variety is due to the background of the book artists. The interaction of their artistic development in other art or craft forms with the book form is evidenced both in conceptual approach and in the use of materials and technical processes.

Please view the exhibit here.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Tyee's New Book Blog

BC based online news magazine, the Tyee, has recently launched a book blog. So far it seems that this blog maintains a good balance of BC, national and international book news.

From Writer to Reader: The Ten Most Expensive Books Ever Sold on Advanced Book Exchange (ABE)

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. $65,000. Published in 1937, this first edition, first printing is in its original dust jacket. Only 1,500 copies of the first edition were printed, and they were sold out by mid-December. Purchased by a buyer in Arizona from a New York bookseller.

Milton, John. Areopagitica. $65,000. Published in 1644, this pamphlet by the author of the epic poem Paradise Lost defended the freedom of the press as the British government suppressed their opponent’s publications. Purchase by a UK buyer from an American bookseller.
More, Sir Thomas. Utopia. $60,000. More became a Catholic martyr when Henry VIII beheaded him. This 1518 fourth edition outlines his ideal state, and pleads for religious tolerance and universal education. Purchased by a UK buyer from an American bookseller.

Donne, John. Poems. $60,000. Little written by Donne appeared in print in his lifetime but hundreds of manuscript copies were circulated by hand. This 1633 edition was the first collection of his poems. Purchased by a buyer in Pakistan from an American bookseller.

Landmann Lt.-Col. George Thomas. Historical, Military, and Picturesque Observations on Portugal. $57,000. This 1818 first edition is described as ‘the most beautiful illustrated English book on Portugal of the period.’ Landmann fought in the Peninsular War, and his book details sieges and battles. Purchased by a buyer in Hong Kong from an American bookseller.

Koran. $46,061. This handwritten version of the Koran was published in the Arabic year of 1152 (1731 in the Western world). Purchased by a buyer in Pakistan from a bookseller in Germany.

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. $38,000. In 1847, Congress asked Schoolcraft to document the history, condition and future of the aboriginal inhabitants of the U.S. It is one of the most important works about the American Indian. Purchased by a buyer in California from a bookseller in Philadelphia.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. $36,059. The 1997 first edition of Rowling’s debut book are hard to find. There was a hardcover print run of only 500. Most copies are now owned by collectors. This one is in mint condition and unread. Purchased by a buyer in California from a bookseller in France.

Traite a’anatomie et de physiologie, avec des plans. $27,582. A very rare medical handbook, it was published in 1786 in Paris and is bound in full leather. Purchased by a buyer in Pennsylvania from a bookseller in Germany.

Orwell, George. 1984. $26,500. Orwell was hospitalized with turberculosis just after the book’s publication. He never left the hospital alive, so signed copies are very scarce. Some were given to hospital staff – this one is inscribed ‘For Elly with regards – Geo. Orwell.’ Purchased by a UK buyer from an American bookseller.”


Friday, June 16, 2006

From Writer to Reader: The 100 Most Important Canadian Books According to the Literary Review of Canada

It is always great fun to read what others consider to be "Great Books." A list of the "100 Most Important Canadian Books" published by the Literary Review of Canada is certainly no exception. The list contains many of the books you might naturally expect like Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel, Robertson Davies' Fifth Business and Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women. But it also contains titles that might be characterized as both dull and important at the same time such as the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and the Report of the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, 1949-1951. Bully for the editors of LRC I say. No pandering to cheap and meretricious taste in this instance!

For the complete list of the "100 Most Important Canadian Books" please pay a visit to the LRC website.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From Writer to Reader: Canadian Novels Most Frequently Taught in Post-Secondary Institutions

Todd Wong, a friend of mine, recently drew my attention to another attempt to highlight important Canadian books. It seems a survey conducted by Quill and Quire in 2000/2001 found the following results concerning the teaching of Canadian fiction in Canadian universities:
A novel by Professor Thomas King. . . has the distinction of being taught in more undergraduate literature courses across the country than any other work.

Green Grass, Running Water [was] taught in 15 Canadian literature courses, according to a survey by Quill & Quire magazine published in its November 2001 issue. The magazine examined the reading lists for the 2000/2001 academic year from 29 Canadian universities. . . . The next runner-up was Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, taught in 13 courses.

King ranked fourth behind Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Laurence in total number of works taught in Canadian literature courses.

Ten Atwood novels [appeared] on reading lists in a total of 37 courses. Her novel Alias Grace, studied in nine courses, was the one most frequently taught. Seven Ondaatje novels [were] studied in 29 courses and five Laurence works [were] studied in 26 courses.

A total of 24 Canadian literature courses featured works by King, including his novels Medicine River, Truth & Bright Water and [ his short story collection] One Good Story, That One.

The rest of the list of twenty authors whose works appear most frequently on undergraduate reading lists includes Alice Munro, Carol Shields, Tomson Highway, Mordecai Richler, Robertson Davies and Timothy Findley.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From Writer to Reader: Loeb Classical Library

This note sent along by our intrepid Chair Howard Greaves:
May 6th heralds the publication of the 500th volume in the esteemed Loeb Classical Library. To celebrate, Harvard University Press is proud to publish the Loeb Classical Library Reader, a compact selection of the Library’s greatest hits.

The Loeb Library is the only existing series of books which, through original text facing English translation, gives access to all that is important in Greek and Latin literature. The Reader draws on thirty-three of antiquity’s major authors to give a unique sampling of this treasure trove, from Aristophane’s Lysistrata to Virgil’s Aeneid.

The Fate of the Art, The Hand Printed Book in the 21st Century

The Codex Foundation is hosting the first bienniale CODEX Symposium & Bookfair entitled: The Fate of the Art, The Hand Printed Book in the 21st Century. We are gathering together on the University of California, Berkeley campus a congress of the worlds finest book artists and artisans, private presses, curators, collectors and scholars in the spirit of an Old West rendezvous. The book fair will feature contemporary artists books and fine arts presses and will also include booksellers, bookbinders, papermakers, bibliophile organizations, and educational programs in the book arts. The San Francisco Bay Areas libraries, book arts, and bibliophilic organizations will be hosting additional events, exhibits and receptions during the week. This will be a historic bookweek on the grand scale in keeping with the great San Francisco tradition! Following the Codex Book Fair will be The 40th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, certainly one of the biggest and best in the world, starting on Friday, February 16th.

The Fate of the Art, The Hand Printed Book in the 21st Century
February 12, 13, 14, & 15, 2007
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum

Symposium lectures:

Breyten Breytenbach, South African writer, painter and activist
Book as the better part of being human...

Robert Bringhurst, Poet, Translator & Typographer
Spiritual Geometry : the book as a work of art

Sarah Bodman, Research Fellow, Centre for Fine Print Research, UWE, Bristol, School of Art, Media and Design
The hybrid lexicon: an overview of contemporary artists publishing in the UK

Felipe Eherenberg, Artist, Cultural Aggregate of Mexico in Brazil, publisher of the Beau Geste Press, London
Title to be announced

Dr. Stefan Soltek, Director of the Klingspor Museum, Offenbach, Germany
Verso recto : bookart as a matter of sidesteps ...
February 13, 14, & 15, 2007
ASUC Pauley Ballroom The University of California, Berkeley

For information concerning exhibitors, symposium schedules, registration, bookfair hours, directions, and accomodations
please go to:

Friday, June 09, 2006

From Writer to Reader: Literary Agents

At some point in every writer’s career thoughts must turn to securing the services of a literary agent to help market that incredibly good manuscript that is at present tucked securely away in a desk drawer. Apparently here, as in so many areas of commerce, the guiding rule is caveat emptor or buyer beware. The following excerpt is from an article entitled “Warnings and Cautions for Writers – Literary Agents” published online by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

“There are many successful literary agents who provide excellent representation to their client. Unfortunately, there are also many dishonest and incompetent ones, who relieve writers of money and waste their time – or even worse, damage their careers by squandering submission opportunities or placing them with bad publishers. A couple of decades ago, such agents weren’t terribly common. These days, due to changes in the publishing industry that have made agents the principal gatekeepers of the citadel of publishing, they are legion.

Dishonest agents prey on writers by charging fees, promoting their own paid services, engaging in kickback referral schemes, and misrepresenting their knowledge and expertise in order to obtain clients. These agents don’t earn their income from selling manuscripts to publishers, but from charging money to clients.

Dishonest agents may ‘represent’ hundreds of writers, turning them over twice a year with a six-month contact that requires $250 or more in upfront fees. Or they may be fronts for editing services, recommending editing to every writer who sends a query and charging thousands of dollars for critiques performed by unqualified minimum-wage employees. Or they may run pay-to-publish operations, into which clients are funneled once they’ve racked up enough rejections to become desparate.”

To read more of this valuable article, including several specific examples of “dishonest agenting practice drawn from Writer’s Beware files” please click here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

From Writer to Reader: The Darker Side of Bibliophilia

Long time Alcuin Society director and seasoned bibliophile, Dr. Richard Hopkins, has kindly volunteered to contribute news and observations from the world of books to this blog. Look for his contributions, which will be regularly posted under the heading, "From Writer to Reader."

Here is his first post:

The Darker Side of Bibliophilia: Books Bound in Human Skin
(Reader’s Discretion Is Advised)

Over the last while I have discovered not one but two separate articles on books bound in human skin or “anthropodermically bound books.” The first of these is from M.L. Johnson, an Associated Press writer, and was found on I quote here from the article:
Brown University’s library boasts an unusual anatomy book. Tanned and polished to a smooth golden brown, its cover looks and feels no different from any other fine leather.

But here’s its secret: the book is bound in human skin.

A number of prestigious libraries – including Harvard University’s – have such books in their collections. While the idea of making leather from human skin seems bizarre and cruel today, it was not uncommon in centuries past, said Laura Hartman, a rare book cataloger at the National Library of Medicine in Maryland and author of a paper on the subject.

The best libraries then belonged to private collectors. Some were doctors who had access to skin from amputated parts and patients whose bodies were not claimed. They found human leather to be relatively cheap, durable and waterproof, Hartman said.

In other cases, wealthy bibliophiles may have acquired the skin from criminals who were executed, cadavers used in medical schools and people who died in the poor house, said Sam Streit, director of Brown’s John Hay Library.”
The other article is by Dan Alban and is entitled “Books Bound in Human Skin: Lampshade Myth?” What follows are two excerpts from that article:
Among the most unusual examples of the phenomenon is the autoanthropodermic binding of the Highwayman: Narrative of the Life of James Allen alias George Walton, the confessions of a highwayman bound in the author’s own skin. The cover bears the inscription “HIC LIBER WALTONIS CUTE COMPACTUS EST” (This book by Walton bound in his own skin). Facing the gallows, Walton specified that a copy of his memoir be bound in his own skin and given to John A. Fenno, a man whom Walton had attempted to rob on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Fenno had impressed Walton by bravely resisting the robbery attempt, weathering a gunshot wound, and assisting in bringing Walton to justice. After Walton’s execution, the book was delivered to Fenno, and his ancestors eventually donated it to the Boston Athenaeum, where it remains today...

In My Life With Paper, master book designer Dard Hunter tells of being hired by a young widow to bind a volume of letters dedicated to her late husband in his skin. Hunter later learns that the widow has remarried and wonders whether her second husband sees himself as volume two. Hunter concludes, ‘Let us hope that this was strictly a limited edition!’

24th Annual Awards on Display

Display Locations
24th Annual Awards
Excellence in Book Design in Canada

May 26 to June 9 2006
Emily Carr Library
Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design
Vancouver, British Columbia

June 12 2006
The University Golf Club
University of British Columbia
Alcuin Society Annual General Meeting
Vancouver, British Columbia

June 15 to July 4 2006
Vaughan Memorial Library
Acadia University
Wolfville, Nova Scotia

June 15 to July 31 2006
Du 15 juin au 31 juillet 2006 Redpath Library
McGill University
Montréal, Québec

July 1 to August 31 2006
Special Collections Division
W.A.C.Bennett Library
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia

July 13 to August 2 2006
2006 Design Exchange (DX)
Toronto, Ontario

August 10 to September 22 2006
(Date to be Confirmed)
Isaac Barber Learning Centre
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

September 24 2006
Word on the Street
Vancouver Public Library, Central Library
Vancouver, British Columbia

September 25 to October 14 2006
(Date to be Confirmed)
Vancouver Public Library
Central Library
Vancouver,British Columbia

October 4 to 8 2006
Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt
(Most Beautiful Books in all the World)
International Exhibit Frankfurt Book Fair
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

October 15 to 28 2006
(Date to be Confirmed)
Vancouver Public Library
Central Library Level 2
Vancouver, British Columbia

October 23 to November 17 2006
Royal Roads University Library
Royal Roads University
Victoria, British Columbia

November 25 2006 to January 7 2007
Nelson & District Museum, Archives, and Art Gallery
Nelson, British Columbia

March 22 to 25 2007
2007 Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt
(Most Beautiful Books in all the World)
International Exhibit Leipzig Book Fair
Leipzig, Germany

Spring 2007 (exact date TBA)
Fine Arts Building Gallery
Department of Art and Design
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta

Other venues may be added at a later date.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The end of print

Recently CBC aired a three part series called "The End," which explored the continuing viability of a number of different media, including the "End of Print." Despite the ominous title, this documentary seems to conclude that print isn't going anywhere; yet, the situation is changing, partly due to blogs like this one:
One of the biggest threats to print is the sheer volume and variety of writing that can be found online. By starting a 'blog' or web journal, anyone can became a writer and publish their work for others to see at no cost.
Electronic media will doubtless continue to impact the ways we use and perceive print, but the printing press did not make the manuscript extinct, nor will laptops kill off the book. Rather, it seems that more and more we employ several forms of the written word to facilitate different tasks: if you see any given student on a bus there is a good chance their backpack will contain handwritten notes, various books, and a laptop or other electronic storage device, like a USB flashdrive.

In any case, although "The End" aired a month ago, you can watch it online at the site linked to above.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Illustrated books: endangered?

Although you wouldn't know it from last year's strong showing by designers and publishers of illustrated books at the Alcuin Society's Book Design Awards, according to this article from The Book Standard, it seems that illustrated children's books might be on their way to becoming an endangered species.
It is no secret that today's picture book market presents one of the most challenging areas in children's sales. While the international co-editions market is enjoying something of a revival, the home market tells a different story. Away from the bestseller lists, the climate for picture books on the high street is best described as "challenging".
Whatever the case, expect to see several interesting entries in the Children's category at the upcoming Book Design Awards.

Alcuin Society AGM & Book Design Awards Presentations...

Monday, June 12, 2006
Alcuin Society Annual General Meeting
24th Annual Awards on Display

Presentation of Annual Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada to publishers of winning books followed by a short business meeting.

Place: The University Golf Club
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

Time: 6:30 pm (for 7pm dinner)

For tickets and more information contact

Canadian books recognized at Leipzig competition...

Frankfurt, Germany - The Stiftung Buchkunst, based in Frankfurt, Germany, and curators of the international exhibition "Best Book Design From All Over the World" at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs, selected the 2005 award-winners in an international competition in Leipzig in February, 2006. Those awards were presented at the Leipzig Book Fair on March 17, 2006.

The Stiftung has just released their short list of competitors for the awards. Of 634 books submitted by 34 countries, 66 titles were shortlisted, and 14 prizes selected. Four Canadian designers were honoured to be among those shortlisted:

Michael Torosian, designer of Dave Heath : Korea by Michael Torosian (Lumiere Press)

Anne Tremblay, designer of Le Visuel Dictionnaire Thématique: Définitions, by Jean-Claude Corbeil and Ariane Archambault (Québéc Amérique, Montréal)

Tim Inkster and Paul Hodgson, designers of Looking for Snails on a Sunday Afternoon by Rudolf Kurz (The Porcupine's Quill).

The 26 Canadian books on exhibit, which were participants in the international competition, were submitted by The Alcuin Society to the Stiftung. These books were the winners of the 2004 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held in April, 2005. This entire collection has now been donated to the German Book and Type Museum in Leipzig, where it will be available for consultation and exhibitions. The 36 winners of this year's Alcuin Society competition have been forwarded to the Stiftung and are now entered in next year's international competition.

For more information, please contact Leah Gordon, Alcuin Society Design Competition Committee Chair,