Sunday, December 12, 2010

Books in Production: Second Printing of Duthie's Bookmarks

Just an update on the production of our edition of TAKAO TANABE: Sometime Printer.

The production run of 70 books (increased from 50) is well on it's way to completion, and over half of the books are already spoken for. If you were interested in acquiring a copy of this book, it is recommended that you act soon and place your orders asap!

TAKAO TANABE: Sometime Printer is $185 CDN; place your order by email.

The new Alcuin edition "Takao Tanabe: Sometime Printer"

On a somewhat related note, last weekend, Takao gave an artist talk at the West Vancouver Museum as part of his exhibition of paintings. If you missed the artist talk, you still have 10 days to catch his show; it runs until December 23, 2010 (as stated previously, the Alcuin Society is not affiliated with this exhibition).

Back to the topic of book production, over the past year or so, we have received a heartfelt plea to print a few more copies of the Duthie's Bookmarks book, which was originally published in 2008. As such, we are also in the process of a second print run of an additional 10 copies of this book. Again, over half of these books are already spoken for, so with just a handful of copies available, order your copy soon!

The second printing of Duthie's Bookmarks is also $185 CDN. Again, you can place your order by email.

Duthie's Bookmarks ~ spine

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Book Design Awards 2010: Official Call for Entries

Our annual book design awards official call for entries has just been posted. Read all the details in the bilingual PDF entry form. In addition to posting all the fine print about the competition, we're pleased to announce the names of our three esteemed judges. They are:

  • Alan Brownoff
    Book designer, Artist
    University of Alberta Press
    Edmonton, Alberta
  • CS Richardson
    Book designer, Author
    Random House of Canada
    Toronto, Ontario
  • Dr. Shelley Gruendler
    Book designer, Typographer, Professor
    Vancouver, British Columbia

Any typographic or publishing forum would be lucky to have any one of these three in attendance; we look forward to having all three participate in our proceedings next year.

For those of you who happen to notice an outstanding Canadian book produced in the calendar year, please be sure to spread the word about our competition! Remember, this applies to student work and artist limited editions. For those entering books in the competition, the important deadline to remember is March 10, 2011.

For further information, contact Leah Gordon
Telephone 604 732 5403

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Congratulations in Order for Skibsrud and Gaspereau

Once again, we send our congratulations to Johanna Skibsrud and Gaspereau Press for the breaking news, "Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists wins the Giller Prize". It was indeed, anyone's guess who was going to win, but we would be remiss to mention that we've already picked her as a winner! Yes, Johanna Skibsrud's book received first prize in the PROSE NON-FICTION category earlier this year in our annual competition for book design excellence in Canada, thanks to the good work of designer ANDREW STEEVES at Gaspereau Press.

The National Post Twitter account just called it: "I'll say it: biggest upset in Giller Prize history."

To which @NPRBooks replied: "Drama in the Canadian world of letters!"

Johanna herself was taken off guard, and provides a truly humbled reaction in her quote in the National Post online:
“I had really put [winning] out of my mind as a possibility,” she said. “I just didn’t conceive of it, really. So then when I heard my name I didn’t really process it at all. I think I had to see the reaction from my sister and her saying ‘You’ve got to go up there!’ to really understand what had just happened." link
Here's another interesting quote from Andrew's blog, written a month prior to winning the Giller Prize:
If The Sentimentalists does win, it will be the first time the Giller-winning book will also have been the winner of the Alcuin Society’s award for Excellence in Canadian Book Design (though if I remember correctly, Kong Njo got a third place Alcuin for Atwood’s Alias Grace and Spencer Francy Peters had an honourable mention for Richler’s Barney’s Version). So I feel that it is important that the 6328th copy of the book we manufacture (or, if you believe the numbers hype, the 20,328th) be every bit as well made as the first one, and not just a disposible rectangular hunk of woodpulp and glue temporarily propped into the shape of a mass market novel, a mere shadow of its beginnings. I’m not interested in that, whatever anyone else may think. I'm a crummy capitalist; I believe above all else that readers deserve books worthy of their content, and the content of this book is exceptional. link
And now, for one last bit of breaking news, we will have not ONE but TWO copies of Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists up for auction this Saturday! These are, in fact, two FIRST EDITIONS! Come and support book design excellence this weekend by attending our auction at the UBC University Golf Club. The auction is free to attend (the lunch beforehand requires RSVP by Nov 10), and all the details are available in our previous post. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Up for Auction - Copper Plate Etchings by Gary Sim

Further to our upcoming book auction on November 13, 2010, here are the two etchings donated by Alcuin member Gary Sim. The pair of images is titled Savary Suite.

WATER TAXI by Gary Sim
6" high by 14" wide (150 mm by 360 mm)
This is a view of the wharf at Savary Island, British Columbia,
as the water taxi arrives from Lund on a quiet morning.

6.5" high by 14" wide (165 mm by 360 mm)

This is a view of the south shore at Savary Island, British Columbia,
looking to the west across Georgia Strait towards Vancouver Island.

Both are very fine etchings, produced to the highest standards, and part of a series limited to 30 prints. From the artist's description:

The edition consists of 30 prints on BFK Rives paper, 300 gsm, etched, proofed, and printed at New Leaf Editions on Granville Island. All prints are editioned, titled, and signed by the artist in pencil, with artist's monogram and date in the plate lower right. All prints are blindstamped with the New Leaf chop lower right.
This is a great opportunity to acquire some fine local artwork. Just another reason we hope to see you at our annual book auction!

Saturday, November 13, 2010
University Golf Club
5185 University Boulevard
Vancouver, BC

Books will be available for viewing from 11:30 am
Auction begins at 1:00 pm
Admission to the auction is free!

(A pre-arranged lunch to be served at 12:00 pm; lunch is $15.00 per person inclusive; contact before Nov 10 to see if there's still room for your RSVP)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Our Book Auction Tradition Continues

Nov, 2006 - Alcuin Society Book Auction

As many of you will know, each year we auction the previous year's submissions to the Alcuin Society's Competition for Excellence in Book Design in Canada; the funds raised help to finance next year's competition. This is an opportunity for some book buying bargains. Start your Christmas shopping early or buy something just for yourself, and while you're at it, have an interesting and entertaining afternoon. You are encouraged to bring fellow book lovers, and everyone is welcome to participate in the auction even if you don't come for lunch.

This year, we will also have some extra treats: there will be two limited edition original prints of Savary Island by Vancouver artist and book lover, Gary Sim.  And we will be auctioning copies of the winning books from last year's competition (this year's winners are still on exhibit). And there are 2 pristine 1st edition copies of The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud, published by Gaspereau Press. (This won an Alcuin Award for prose fiction this year, and has just been nominated for a Giller.)

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 13, 2010
University Golf Club
5185 University Boulevard
Vancouver, BC

Books will be available for viewing from 11:30 am
Auction begins at 1:00 pm
Admission to the auction is free!

(A pre-arranged lunch to be served at 12:00 pm; lunch is $15.00 per person inclusive; contact before Nov 10 to see if there's still room for your RSVP)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gaspereau in the Limelight

Great to see all the press Gaspereau is getting with the Giller Prize shortlist nomination of Johanna Skibsrud's The Sentimentalists.

Take a closer look at yesterday's behind the scenes photos in the Globe and Mail:

All eyes will be on the Giller November 9th just before 7pm Pacific Time, when the winner of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced. Best wishes to Gaspereau!

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Book: TAKAO TANABE: Sometime Printer

Last month the Alcuin Society made a special announcement to its members regarding the third limited edition book in our Printing and Book Arts series. Since it has yet to be mentioned in detail here on the blog, it's high time we do so. Presenting...

The new Alcuin edition "Takao Tanabe: Sometime Printer"

TAKAO TANABE: Sometime Printer
A tour de force of Letterpress printing

Tak not only printed books, which one expects from a “Private Press,” but was a master at Job Printing. His typographic imagination could run riot, producing an abundance of invitations, birth announcements, Christmas cards and ephemeral printing for Vancouver’s sophisticates, who had the sensibilities to recognize a master at work in the 1950s and 60s.

The new Alcuin edition "Takao Tanabe: Sometime Printer"

The book is filled with his keen artistic and typographic style, with 156 pages of reproductions of book pages and job printing and 19 tip-ins, all in full colour.

The first edition will be printed in very low numbers, with only 50 70 copies being produced.

UPDATE: Due to increased demand, we decided to increase the quantity of this edition from 50 copies to 70 copies.

The previous books in the series were also printed in a very low edition, and both have since sold out. Dorothy Burnett, Bookbinder, was the first in our series on Printing and Book Arts, published in 2007, and devoted to the work of Dorothy Burnett, English Canada's first fine Bookbinder. Duthie's Bookmarks was the second book in the series published in 2008, celebrating fifty years of bookmarks created for Duthie Books by a who’s who of West Coast artists including Jack Shadbolt, Takao Tanabe, Celia King, Carel Moiseiwitsch and 20 others.

You now have the opportunity to purchase the third book in the series. The price of TAKAO TANABE: Sometime Printer is $185 CDN

ISBN: 978-0-919026-40-7

Please place your orders by email.

Click here for a PDF sales flyer.

Coincidentally, as an added bonus, a new show is opening at the West Vancouver Museum tomorrow (680 17th Street, West Vancouver, BC V7V 3T2), featuring the paintings of Takao Tanabe. The opening reception is on Tuesday October 26, 2010 at 7pm, and a special artist talk will be held on December 8, 2010 from 7-9pm.

This event is not affiliated with the Alcuin Society, but you are certainly encouraged to attend!

For more information, visit

See also: HEAVENLY MONKEY'S blog post regarding the book.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Alcuin Awards Wrap-up

Once again, a big thank you for all those who attended the Alcuin Awards presentation, both in Toronto on October 4, and in Vancouver on October 21. In Toronto, the program was MC-ed by Linda Gustafson, with a moving keynote presentation by David Michaelides. In addition, Jowi Taylor, who received his award for the book SixStringNation blogged about his experience of the event here.

Here in Vancouver, after the awards were handed out in style, Michael Carabetta gave a thoroughly in-depth and entertaining look at Chronicle Books. 

A few images from Michael Carabetta's Chronicle Books presentation.

It was also our intention to provide complete audio from Michael Carabetta's presentation, but alas, a glitch in the process caused the entire talk to be recorded as pure silence. Instead, for those not in attendance, you must take our word for it; it was a truly inspiring lecture filled with "Bibliotherapy".

Throughout the course of the evening, it was quite clearly illustrated for us all; Chronicle Books has done a fantastic job producing books which compel you to hold them close. From the small, fact-filled guide books to the large scale, artful compendiums of information. Whether the subject matter is art, pop culture, food, or  fun, the results are very often the same - pure delight.

Many of the children's books were audience favourites during the presentation, especially Port-a-Pug, the instant paper pug creator! As described on their website: "Port-a-Pug has all the perks and benefits of real dog ownership without the exhausting cleanup or the expensive upkeep. Easy to assemble, easy to transport, difficult not to adore." Michael also took great pride in the opportunity to bring back the classic children's books by Ann and Paul Rand, I Know a Lot of Things, Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words, and Little 1.

Also of particular interest, the Little Book of Letterpress is a great little directory of those working in the letterpress arts across North America and beyond. And at the other end of the spectrum, we were shown a number of Chronicle titles adapted as e-books, illustrating some of the distinct and subtle differences between the page and the screen.

Michael ended his presentation with a great quote by John Updike:
"the book as a sensual pleasure: smaller than a bread box, bigger than a TV remote, the average book fits into the human hand with a seductive nestling, a kiss of texture, whether of cover cloth, glazed jacket or flexible paperback."
We greatly appreciate Michael's visit from south of the border, and we do expect Chronicle's book design standards will continue to set the bar high in the United States and the rest of the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Things to look for at our Awards Ceremony at Emily Carr University

Poster designed by Meriliese Cabebe

For those attending our awards ceremonies tomorrow evening at Emily Carr University, you'll be able to see an appropriate collection of graphic design on display.

Students at Emily Carr have taken the event as a design challenge, and I anticipate the resulting series of posters for the event will be on display outside of the lecture hall. Our previous post featured a poster by Sam Dal Monte, and seen above is another poster by ECUAD student Meriliese Cabebe, which she submitted to us via Twitter.

Speaking of which, if you haven't already noticed the addition of the Twitter sidebar on the blog, it's certainly high time to announce that Alcuin indeed lives on Twitter! You can follow along at It turns out the restriction of 140 characters is no barrier for true typographic aficionados, where there is a healthy dose of book design and letterpress musing already occurring.

Another special treat to look for at the event tomorrow will be a Limited Edition Broadside by Carol Ann Duffy. From the website:
Carol Ann Duffy, UK Poet Laureate, was the 2009 Vancouver Island University Gustafson Chair of Poetry. Ms Duffy generously gave the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Trust permission to print and sell copies of a signed, numbered, limited edition letterpress broadside of her first poem as Poet Laureate, “Last Post”, to raise funds for the Trust.
The poster was printed by Gaspereau Press in Nova Scotia, and a limited number of the broadside will be available for sale, so please do considering supporting this organization dedicated to advancing the poetry arts. Once again, we look forward to seeing you at the event!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Countdown to Awards Presentation at Emily Carr University 2010-10-21

Once again, a big thank you to all who participated in the Vancouver Antiquarian Book Fair. As the photos attest, it was a weekend full of book delights!

Coming this Thursday is another extra special Alcuin event. It's time for the Vancouver presentation of our annual Alcuin Awards, and we are very pleased to announce that, once again this year, Emily Carr University of Art + Design will host the ceremony. As well, as in the past, there will be an interesting speaker from the field of book design. This year's speaker, Michael Carabetta (Creative Director, Chronicle Books, San Francisco) will give a talk On Chronicle Books: Seeing Things Differently.

Photo & poster by ECUAD student Sam Dal Monte

Alcuin Society Directors will present awards in two different categories. Winners of the 2009 Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada will receive their awards from Richard Hopkins. The Emcee will be Roberto Dosil (Publisher, CCSP Press, Vancouver).

The award-winning books from this year's design competition will be available for viewing before (and after) the evening's events. We hope to see you there! Feel free to bring a friend, as the event is free and open to the public!
Date: Thursday, Oct. 21
Time: Book viewing: 6:45; Event: 7:15
Place: Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Room 301, South Building (Granville Island)
Co-sponsors: The Alcuin Society and Emily Carr University for Art + Design

Friday, October 15, 2010

A closer look: Irvin Ungar presentation on Arthur Szyk

Last night at Pulp Fiction Books Mr. Irvin Ungar gave his presentation on Arthur Szyk, and the making of the Szyk Haggadah. He will also be displaying his modern edition of the Szyk Haggadah at the Vancouver Antiquarian Book Fair today and tomorrow. I encourage you to take a closer look at this remarkable edition in person, as the methods employed to produce this book go far beyond the ordinary. Along with some photos from the event, I captured most of the audio from the presentation, now available here. Click here for the audio.

Special thanks again go out to Irvin Ungar for taking the time to speak to us. For more information, visit his website:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vancouver Antiquarian Book Fair: Free Public Lecture by Irvin Ungar

In addition to our highly anticipated Vancouver Antiquarian Book Fair at VPL Library Square October 15-16, a free public lecture has just been announced.

DATE: Thursday, October 14, 2010

TIME: 7-8 pm
PLACE: Pulp Fiction Books, 2422 Main Street
       (Main & Broadway) Vancouver, B.C.

Mr. Irvin Ungar, Proprietor of Historicana, a Burlingame, California antiquarian bookstore specializing in a wide ranging selection of historic Judaica will be the speaker. He is known as the foremost expert on the art of Arthur Szyk.

Irvin will be speaking about the making of the Szyk Haggadah, involving a discussion of the man Arthur Szyk, what a haggadah is, and what is different about Szyk’s haggadah from other haggadahs. The major focus of the presentation, however, will be on the luxury limited edition of the Szyk Haggadah featured in Amphora #147, the quarterly journal of The Alcuin Society. The Deluxe and Premier editions will also be on display.

Irvin Ungar has also produced a documentary on the work of Arthur Szyk which also tells the story of the production of his edition of the Szyk Haggadah. Eight video clips are available on YouTube, and in this clip below, the latest printing technology is employed with old world craftsmanship to produce the final spectacular result.

Click here to watch all 8 clips in sequence.

We hope to see you there for this special event!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Ink Is Made

The producer of a short film about ink has passed their YouTube URL to us; having watched the film, I can confirm; it is lovely and informative, especially in HD. So good, you almost can't tell it's advertising. From the video description:
A Chief Ink Maker shows how colour and ink is created from the raw ingredients--powder, varnish, and passion. Everything designers and printers need to know about the process, the challenges and joy of ink making.

Presented by Peter Welfare, president and head inkmaker, The Printing Ink Company.

Written and produced by Ian Daffern and Directed and Edited by Tate Young.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair October 6 to 10, 2010

In addition to the already full plate of book events on the horizon comes the grand daddy of them all, the Frankfurt Book Fair. In case you aren't able to make it to Frankfurt, you can catch a glimpse of the event through some of their social media tools online, where you'll find a blog section, a photo gallery, and AV section with podcasts highlighting last year's event. Check back for more during the event. I can't be certain how much of this year's programming will be in English, but if we're lucky, there may be some live-streamed events worth catching. Keep tabs on the event through Twitter, where German tweets will be tagged with #fbm10, or in English at #fbf10

Here's the teaser promo that was put together for the fair, featuring a rather timid and confused spider, winding his way precariously through the city. Will he make it to the Frankfurt Book Fair in time? Will he get enough to eat? Find out, in Frankfurt!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Word On The Street Vancouver 2010

The media release I received today reminds us there's just six sleeps left until Word On The Street Vancouver 2010. Coming Sunday September 26, 2010 at Library Square and CBC Plaza. One Day Only, 11am to 5pm, FREE admission.
The crackles of September mean Fall leaves … and turning pages at The Word On The Street! Vancouver’s The Word On The Street is back for its 16th year with another full free day of indoor and outdoor author events, exhibits, performances, a marketplace, and all-round reading and writing excitement—Sunday, September 26 at Library Square and CBC Plaza (Homer and Hamilton Streets between Robson and Georgia).
[more from WOTS]
I do believe their web UI is new as well; I do like the addition of the due date card pocket in the bottom right!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Bevy of Upcoming Book Fairs

The details of our upcoming book fair in Vancouver (October 15-16, 2010 at Library Square, Vancouver Public Library) are now posted online, including a list of exhibitors and more. As you may know, there has not been an antiquarian book fair in Vancouver since the early 1990s, so it's high time for a comeback!

Who can you expect to see at the Vancouver Antiquarian Book Fair? To answer this, I've compiled a list:

Booth 101   Purpora Books
Booth 102   Joyce Williams Antique Prints & Maps
Booth 103   Stephen Lunsford Books
Booth 104   Stillman Books
Booth 105   Thompson Rare Books
Booth 107   Brendan M. Moss, Esq.
Booth 108   Chorbajian Books
Booth 109   Tremain Haynes
Booth 110   Alexandre Antique Prints, Maps & Books
Booth 111   Amicus Books
Booth 112   MacLeod's Books
Booth 113   J. King, Bookseller
Booth 114   Historicana / The Szyk Haggadah
Booth 115   The Wayfarer's Bookshop
Booth 116   Voyager Press Rare Books
Booth 117   Wilfrid M. de Freitas, Bookseller
Booth 118   Aquila Books
Booth 119   Greenfield Books
Booth 120   Bjarne Tokerud, Bookseller
Booth 201   Sagewolf Books
Booth 202   David Ellis, Bookseller
Booth 203   Kestrel Books
Booth 204   Craig Bowlsby, Bookseller
Booth 205   Women in Print
Booth 206   Brown's Books
Booth 207   Hourglass Books
Booth 208   Bill Bartlett Collectibles
Booth 209   Sorensen Books
Booth 210   Murdoch's Bookshoppe
Booth 211   Ainsworth Books
Booth 212   The Alcuin Society

Not to be outdone, it seems there are a host of other cities with upcoming book fairs of their own. This includes the Montreal Antiquarian Book Fair (September 25-26, 2010), the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair (October 9-10, 2010), the Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair (October 29-31, 2010), and of course, who can forget Frankfurt (October 6-10, 2010). Next year will see the California Antiquarian Book Fair in Los Angeles (February 11-13, 2011), as well as the New York Antiquarian Book Fair (April  8-10, 2011).

Which of the book fairs is the fairest of them all? Well, that honour might have to go to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, whose website boasts: "THE BEST BOOK FAIR IN THE WORLD". The quote is attributed to none other than Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes, CBS. The event celebrated its 5oth anniversary in April of this year; to see if they live up to their reputation, you'll have to read this enticing account of the event and decide for yourself:

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities: Alcuin Award Ceremonies, October 2010

There will be two ceremonies celebrating the winners of the Alcuin Awards this fall; first, a by-reservation dinner and event in Toronto will be held October 4th, followed by a free public event in Vancouver on October 21st.

City: Toronto, ON
Date: Monday, October 4 
Time: 5:30 (bar) for 6:30 (dinner)
Place: 14 Elm St., Toronto ON M5G 1G7
Hosted by: The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto
MC: Linda Gustafson (Counterpunch Book Design)
Speaker: David Michelides (Swipe Books)
Additional presentation: Jowi Taylor on the making of his guitar, and the book Six String Nation (Douglas & McIntyre)

The award-winning books from this year's design competition (including Jowi Taylor's Six String Nation) will be available for viewing and for sale, before (and after) the evening's events.

Admission: Dinner - $22 cash or Visa at the door  - Open to All - Reservations are required for the dinner. There will also be a cash bar available.

Reservations: call Naomi, at The Arts and Letters Club -- (416) 597-0223 ext. 2. The dinners that have been reserved are made to order. If you are unable to attend, please notify Naomi as soon as possible. Do please feel free to bring colleagues, friends, and family; this event is open to everyone.

Alcuin Society Book Design Awards

At this year's ceremony in Vancouver, Alcuin Society Directors will present awards in two different categories. Winners of the 2009 Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada will receive their awards from Richard Hopkins. The Robert R. Reid Lifetime Achievement in the Book Arts award for 2009 will be presented to one of the family members of the winner, the late Jim Rimmer, by Eric Swanick.

City: Vancouver, BC
Date: Thursday, October 21
Time: Book viewing: 6:45; Event: 7:00
Place: Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Room 301, South Building
Co-sponsors: The Alcuin Society and Emily Carr University for Art + Design
MC: Roberto Dosil (CCSP Press, Vancouver)
Speaker: Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, San Francisco)

This year's speaker, Michael Carabetta (Creative Director, Chronicle Books, San Francisco) will give a talk On Chronicle Books: Seeing Things Differently. The Emcee will be Roberto Dosil (Publisher, CCSP Press, Vancouver). The award-winning books from this year's design competition will be available for viewing before (and after) the evening's events. As the event in Vancouver is free and open to the public, be sure to invite your book loving friends to come and hear Michael Carabetta speak. You can catch up on his past blog posts here on the Chronicle blog.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Forgotten Knowledge Project on display at the PNE

Container Art at the PNE
Container Art at the PNE by jmv

Last year one of my personal highlights of the PNE was an innovative display of art in a series of shipping containers. This year is the PNE's 100th anniversary, and I'm pleased to say that the Container Art has returned. One of the featured artists just so happens to be a friend of mine, artist and photographer Rachael Ashe. Rachael has put together an extra special treat for the cultured bibliophile, transforming an entire encyclopedia set into a large scale work of art.

Rachael described the process on her blog as she prepared for the installation of the project at the PNE. Below are a few excerpts from her blog:
In June I began working on a large scale book project tentatively titled, Forgotten Knowledge. I'm working with twenty-five volumes of a set of Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias I found discarded in our old laundry room. I intend to combine each one of these with objects I have collected from nature. The inspiration behind this work is the idea that knowledge can be lost or forgotten when people no longer value it. The encyclopedias represent the sum of human knowledge contained in written form, while the found objects represent information about the natural world.  (posted 2010-06-30)
Forgotten Knowledge, the completed set of 25
Forgotten Knowledge, the completed set of 25 by Rachael Ashe.

Earlier this month, she successfully completed the project, and proudly displayed the entire volumes on the dining room table. She writes: "While there are about a million ways for these to be displayed, for the purposes of the Container Art space they will be hung on the wall fully open." (posted 2010-08-09)

Paper Flowers
Paper Flowers by Rachael Ashe.

For those making the pilgrimage out to the Pacific National Exhibition this year, do make a point of visiting the Container Art exhibit. It runs for the entire 2 weeks of the PNE, and access to the Container Art exhibit is included in your PNE ticket price. And in case the work brings back volumes of memories of your own experiences with encyclopedic study, feel free to share your response. Rachael openly invites your reactions to the show via blog post, twitter, facebook, flickr, and beyond. I have a hunch this particular encyclopedia set still has much to teach us.

Monday, August 02, 2010

What it takes to win a Book Collecting Contest

Wondering what it takes to win a book collecting contest? Check out last year's winners, profiled on the National Post's book blog (@npbooks on Twitter)

Collecting books is awesome, part one: a Q&A with Charlotte Ashley

Anne Dondertman, President of the Bibliographical Society of Canada (BSC-SBC), has also posted all three of last year's winning essays on their website:

The prizes were awarded to the winning entrants of the first National Book Collecting Contest at the Annual General Meeting held in Toronto on Wednesday June 24th.
The first prize ($2500) went to Charlotte Ashley for her collection The Works (and Quirks) of Alexandre Dumas pere.

The second prize ($1000) winner was Vanessa Brown for her collection The L.M. Montgomery Collection in the Forest City.

The third prize ($300) winner was Naseem Hrab for her collection The Complexities of Ordinary Life: Autobiographical Comics and Graphic Novels.

As we've mentioned previously, Canada's National Book Collecting contest aimed at young readers under 30 is back for it's second edition. The deadline for entry is 7 March 2011, and there are 3 cash prizes available, with the primary requirement to the contest being a 1,500 to 2,000-word essay about the contestant's book collection.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Books on Tour

Canada's award winning books are on tour! The winners of the 2009 Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Canadian Book Design are currently traveling the globe, winding up their exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo August 31 (UPDATED: official links in English and French), with the next international stop being Norfolk and Norwich in October, as well as the upcoming prestigious Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs.

Andrew Steeves mentions the book tour's visit to Nova Scotia this month in his blog post here, where the Acadia University library and art gallery in Wolfville hosted an event and exhibit of the award winners. Andrew also blogged some specially prepared letterpress inviations which he printed for the event, which do look fine indeed!

Letterpress invitations printed by Andrew Steeves on ends of Saint Armand’s ‘Old Masters’ paper (from

Other Canadian university library stops on the tour include UBC, SFU, and ECUAD in Vancouver; Memorial University, St. John's NL; McGill University, Montreal, PQ; University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB; University of Victoria, Victoria, BC; University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK; University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB; and the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB.

For a complete list of all the tour locations, click here or download the complete tour schedule in PDF format:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Canada’s Second National Book Collecting Contest, 2010/2011

The W.A. Deacon Literary Foundation, in partnership with the Bibliographical Society of Canada (BSC) and the Alcuin Society, is proud to announce that the Second National Book Collecting Contest for young Canadians is underway. The contest is open to all Canadian residents under thirty years of age, as of the deadline date for submissions.

There are 3 cash prizes available, with the primary requirement to the contest being a 1,500 to 2,000-word essay about the contestant's book collection. Entries must be postmarked no later than 7 March 2011.

For more information, PDF poster downloads, complete contest rules, and judging criteria, see:

(Contest Rules French)
(Contest Rules English)

Friday, April 02, 2010

This blog has moved...but not far

A matter of housekeeping, the Interweb has required a minor update to the blog URL.

Please note this blog is now located at

You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, you will want to update your feed subscriptions to:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Canada's 30 best-designed books: 2010 winners

Vancouver, BC - On behalf of The Alcuin Society, this year's judges (Marian Bantjes, Linda Gustafson, and Peter Koch) have selected 30 winning titles for the 28th annual Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada. The books were chosen from 252 Canadian entries published in 2009, from 9 provinces and 108 publishers.

The Alcuin Award winning books will be exhibited internationally: in Germany, at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs; in England, at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library and the Norwich University College of the Arts; and in Japan, at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, in conjunction with the Tokyo International Book Fair. The books will also be exhibited in 19 venues across Canada. They will compete in the international book design competition in Leipzig, Germany in February 2011.

This year's winners are:

First prize: ROBERT CHAPLIN and SIAN PAIRAUDEAU, designers of Brussels Sprouts & Unicorns: a Book of Rhymes by Robert Chaplin (Robert Chaplin)
Second prize: ELISA GUTIÉRREZ, designer of The Kalevala: Tales of Magic and Adventure by Kirsti Mäkinen, translated by Kaarina Brooks (Simply Read Books)
Third prize: GRACE PARTRIDGE, designer of Ella's Umbrellas by Jennifer Lloyd (Simply Read Books)
Honourable mentions: MICHAEL SOLOMON, designer both of Alego by Ningeokuluk Teevee (Groundwood Books) and of City Alphabet by Joanne Schwartz (Groundwood Books).

First prize: CHARLES MAYRS and DAVID CLIFFORD, designers of British Columbia: In Light and Dark by Charles Mayrs (Charles Mayrs)
Second prize: JARRETT MORRISON, designer of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (The Bowler Press)
Third prize: GABRIELLA SOLTI, designer of The Sensory Delights of Text by Gabriella Solti (Gabriella Solti)
Honourable mentions: JUDITH POIRIER, designer of Dialogue by Judith Poirier (Judith Poirier), and JASON DEWINETZ, designer of This (And That Was That) by JonArno Lawson (Greenboathouse Press).

First prize: STUDIO FEED, designers of Far East, Far West by Benoit Aquin (les éditions du passage)
Second prize: ALAN BROWNOFF, designer of Emblems of Empire: Selections from the Mactaggart Art Collection by John E. Vollmer & Jaqueline Simcox (The University of Alberta Press)
Third prize: SUSAN COLBERG, designer of Synergies 2009: Prints from the University of Alberta (Dept. of Art & Design, University of Alberta).

First prize: ANDREW STEEVES & ROBERT BRINGHURST, designers of Selected Poems by Robert Bringhurst (Gaspereau Press)
Second prize: ANDREW STEEVES, designer of Lean-to by Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaassen (Gaspereau Press)
Third prize: NICOLE LAFOND, designer of J'partirai by François Hébert (les éditions du passage).

First prize: ANDREW STEEVES, designer of The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (Gaspereau Press)
Second prize: PETER COCKING, designer of Daniel O'Thunder by Ian Weir (Douglas & McIntyre).

First prize: ANDREW STEEVES, designer of The Marram Grass by Anne Simpson (Gaspereau Press)
Second prize: ROBERT BRINGHURST, designer of At the River's Mouth by Daphne Marlatt (Institute for Coastal Research, Vancouver Island University)
Third prize: ANDREW STEEVES, designer of A Sound Like Water Dripping: In Search of the Boreal Owl by Soren Bondrup-Nielsen (Gaspereau Press)
Honourable mentions: ROBERTO DOSIL (cover) and M. PAGE (interior), designers both of The Story Behind the Book by Laura Millar (Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing (CCSP) Press) and Translators on Translating by Andrew Wilson (CCSP Press).

First prize: CS RICHARDSON, designer of The Bedside Book of Beasts by Graeme Gibson (Doubleday Canada)
Second prize: PETER COCKING, designer of The Men who Killed Me edited by Anne-Marie de Brouwer & Sandra Ka Hon Chu (Douglas & McIntyre)
Third prize (tie): NAOMI MACDOUGALL, designer of Six String Nation by Jowi Taylor (Douglas & McIntyre)
Third prize (tie): BOB BECK, designer of Comestible/Edible: l'aliment comme matériau/Food as Material by Diane Leclair Bisson (les éditions du passage).

First prize: SKIPP DESIGN, INC., designers of Living Proof: the Essential Data-Collection Guide for Indigenous Use-and-Occupancy Map Surveys by Terry N. Tobias (Ecotrust Canada/UBCIC)
Second prize: UNIFORM, designers of Connaître les droits de l'enfant by Bureau international des droits des enfants (IBCR) (Les éditions de la courte échelle)
Third prize: NAOMI MACDOUGALL, designer of Araxi: Seasonal Recipes from the Celebrated Whistler Restaurant by James Walt (Douglas & McIntyre).

Congratulations to all the winners!

(I've added links to nearly all the winner's publisher webpages ~ if anyone has an updated link, feel free to post a comment and I'll aim to update the links!)

UPDATE: For a complete list of upcoming exhibitions featuring this years awards winners, see:

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Wake for Duthie Books

Last month was a difficult month for book lovers in Vancouver. After 53 years in the business of books, Duthie Books Fourth Avenue announced it was going to close. Sadly, this type of occurrence happens way, way, way more often than it should.

To officially pay respects to the local bookseller, The Shebeen Club is hosting a wake to honour Duthie Books on February 15, 2010. Tickets are available online, and the price includes dinner and a drink. With proceeds going to the Strathcona One to One Literacy program, the event is likely to sell out in advance, so act quickly. See this blog for more info. This is not an official Alcuin event, but all book lovers are welcome to attend!

The Alcuin Society has held much respect for Duthies, and 3 years ago, the Society published a limited edition volume featuring fifty years of Duthie's bookmarks created by a who’s who of West Coast artists including Jack Shadbolt, Takao Tanabe, Celia King, Carel Moiseiwitsch and 20 others. This deluxe limited edition book has since sold out. For those who missed out on the book, we're pleased to announce we've just received word that Celia Duthie has agreed to reminisce and provide a potted history of Duthies at our upcoming AGM on June 14, 2010. Stay tuned for more info.

To conclude this post, here's an excerpt from the Duthie Books blog announcing the closure:
We have had 53 (mostly) happy years of bookselling in Vancouver. We have offered friendly recommendations, and stocked good books. For 53 years Duthies has provided a good book service to the city, championed BC and Canadian books, encouraged the public to read local writers, and helped to create a knowledgeable reading public. The book culture of Vancouver and BC has grown up and flourished around Duthies from publisher's reps to publishing houses , authors, illustrators, designers, printers, literary festivals, and university writing and publishing programs have emerged in the Duthies milieu and many Duthies alumni work in all parts of the book trade.

Thank you and Good bye

Everybody knows that Independent bookstores have been under pressure from the 'big box' operations for many years now and it is clear that it is not going to get any better; the likes of Chapters, and Amazon are ruthless in their drive for market share and we cannot compete on price anymore. The book itself is in the throes of a technological transformation and book readers undergoing a major demographic shift.

We are closing now while we can do so in an orderly fashion and not under any pressure from banks or suppliers. Duthies went through a radical restructuring 10 years ago and frankly, we do not want to go through that again.

Our last annual sale starts Thursday January 28 with 40% off everything and further reductions in the following weeks. Please use your gift certificates before the end of February.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fine Printing and the Imagination: another upcoming lecture by Peter Koch

The University of British Columbia Library and The Alcuin Society are pleased to announce an upcoming lecture entitled, "Fine Printing and the Imagination". The speaker is Peter Rutledge Koch, artist, printer, writer, and publisher of fine editions and artist books. He will describe and discuss his major work.

Currently living in Berkeley, California, Mr. Koch's work – including over 100 books, and hundreds of broadsides and prints -- is internationally known. His lengthy essay about the making of the Editions Koch Parmenides appears in Carving the Elements: A companion to The Fragments of Parmenides edited by the Canadian poet and essayist Robert Bringhurst. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at The New York Public Library, The San Francisco Public Library, The Widener Library at Harvard University, The Yellowstone Art Museum, and The University of Montana Art Museum.

More recently Mr. Koch has been artist-in-residence at the Scuola Grafica di Venezia in Venice, Italy. In 2005 he co-founded The CODEX Foundation to preserve and promote the arts of the book and is the director of the Biennial CODEX International Book Fair, Symposium, and publishing program. In addition to his creative and collaborative ventures he has taught “The Hand Made Book In Its Historical Context” at the University of California Berkeley in the departments of Visual Studies, History, and at Bancroft Library Press for the past 16 years.

Place: University of British Columbia
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
The Dodson Room
Vancouver, BC
Friday, March 26th, 2010
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Printing in the Shadow of Aldus: a lecture by Peter Koch

The Alcuin Society is pleased to announce an upcoming lecture entitled, "Printing in the Shadow of Aldus". This illustrated talk will explore Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark: A Memoir of Venice, with photographs by Robert Morgan. The book is a series of essays in memoir form, by the poet and Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. The speaker is Peter Rutledge Koch, artist, printer, writer, and publisher of fine editions and artist books, including Watermark. Mr. Koch will be introduced by Robert Bringhurst.

Mr. Koch will show slides and talk about the grand adventure of printing Watermark in Venice in collaboration with an international cast of distinguished printers, artists, and artisans, including British Columbia's own Crispin Elsted. Mr. Koch will be in Vancouver as one of the judges of the Alcuin Society 2009 Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada competition, taking place on March 27th, 2010.

Place: Simon Fraser University Downtown Campus, Harbour Centre
Fletcher Challenge Room
Vancouver, BC
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers of 2009" Worldwide Call for Entries

Alcuin members will know the important role awards can play in fostering design excellence. Each year we put the call for entries out to Canadian publishers, authors, illustrators, and designers to submit their best work for our own "Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada."

Now for the first time ever, the AIGA - well known professional association for design in America - has not only opened up their book design competition to Canadians, but to the entire world.

From their website:
Following AIGA’s membership in Icograda (International Council of Graphic Design Associations) and in keeping with a deepening commitment to demonstrating the importance of diversity, entries from all countries will be eligible for AIGA competitions for the first time in AIGA’s history. In order for the jury to understand the content and context, entries that are in languages other than English must include a brief English translation.
Fees are modest at $35 USD per title entry for AIGA members, $55 USD per entry for non-members. Fees drop $5 with 5 titles or more.

More from their website:
Enter “AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers of 2009” to take your place in design history! This time-honored competition aims to identify the 50 best-designed books and book covers of the past year, as chosen by a distinguished jury.


    * Literature and nonfiction
    * Image-driven books
    * Limited-edition and fine-press books
    * Instructional books and textbooks
    * Reference book
    * Children’s books

Books may be read, consulted and treasured for years, but this competition is the best way to ensure that your creative legacy will endure. All selections become part of the online AIGA Design Archives, a traveling exhibition that debuts at the AIGA National Design Center in New York and the physical collections of the Denver Art Museum and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. If your work is selected, countless future designers and potential clients will have access to your work. This is your golden opportunity—enter by March 5, 2010.


    * A book must consist of at least 48 pages (except for children’s books).
    * A book must be either case-bound or paperbound between covers. Portfolios of loose pages do not qualify.
    * Books and book covers designed and/or produced between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year are eligible.
    * Except in the case of limited-edition books, print runs should be in excess of 250 copies.
    * Entries should be for sale to the general public, or, if offered gratis, should not be publications whose primary purpose is to advertise or serve as an annual report or other corporate literature.
    * Following AIGA’s membership in Icograda (International Council of Graphic Design Associations) and in keeping with a deepening commitment to demonstrating the importance of diversity, entries from all countries will be eligible for AIGA competitions for the first time in AIGA’s history. In order for the jury to understand the content and context, entries that are in languages other than English must include a brief English translation.
    * Submit only actual work; no photographs accepted. We regret that entries cannot be returned.
Even if you are not an AIGA member, you can signup for a free online account to enter the competition.  Register at here where you can read the complete details on categories, fees, submission requirements, notification, and more. Once again, take note the due date is March 5, 2010.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In Memory of Jim Rimmer

Sadly, Canadian designer, illustrator and typographer Jim Rimmer passed away on January 8, 2010 after a battle with throat cancer. An immensely talented and remarkably generous fellow, he will be greatly missed and remembered fondly by all who knew him.

Two historical photosets have been added to the Alcuin photostream; the first featuring a trip to his New Westminster letterpress print shop in January 2006, and the second a tribute to Jim Rimmer entitled Rimmerfest at SFU Harbour Centre in November 2006. Additionally you can view a photoset of the SFU Special Collections exhibit of Pie Tree Press and Foundry from the same timeframe, along with many more great photos from other flickr users.

See also:
Richard Kegler's obituary post in Jim's honour
C.C. Stern Type Foundry blog post
Words from the Fine Press Book Association by Bob McCamant 
Minding the Ps, Qs & As with Jim Rimmer (an interview with Jessica Spring from 2008) (part 1), (part 2), and (part 3) 
Gaspereau Press Tribute to Jim by Andrew Steeves
Ryan Mah's tribute 
VANCOUVER BY DESIGN with JJ LEE plus interview from 2007
Jim Rimmer remembrance from the New Westminster News Leader (via @letterpress) 
Applied Arts Magazine Wire 
Jim Rimmer: Making Faces YouTube film trailer for a documentary on Cutting Metal Type (via P22Ascope)
Facebook Memorial Page