Thursday, December 19, 2013

SFU presents a talk about Lynn Coady on January 9

On Thursday, January 9, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m., Niall MacKenzie and Jenny Shutek will give a talk about Lynn Coady's work, prompted by their research of her papers that are in the care of SFU Special Collections, as part of a strategy to collect and preserve the papers of young artists. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Lynn Coady is a Canadian novelist and journalist currently living in Edmonton, Alberta. In 2013, she received the reputable Scotiabank Giller Prize for her collection of short stories, Hellgoing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A treasure trove of books left to SFU by the late Emily McWhinney

The Special Collections Library at SFU received 2,600 books donated in memory of Emily McWhinney by her husband, international scholar Edward (Ted) McWhinney. Any book collector would be honoured to lay their hands on these wonderful books, and yet they will soon be available to the public. They include a set of Dickens' novels in the first edition, two inscribed first editions from Graham Greene, and a signed Gertrude Stein book, among other rare books.

Cecilia, or Memoirs of a Heiress (1782)

The body of the collection is literary in nature, including German children's books and Harlequin romances next to the Durrells and the Beardsleys. "Collecting books was an important intellectual escape for Emily. As her executor, it was important to reassure her that her library would be well cared for after her death," says Ted McWhinney. Emily's wish will come true: her beloved books will not only be well cared for, but also enjoyed greatly and cherished by those who now, thanks to her, have access to such exceptional books.

Junius. Stat nominus umbra (1813). Fore-edge painting of the Arundel Castle

For more about Emily McWhinney's life and her beginnings as a collector, go here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Designers from the Netherlands

Brigitte Schuster, a graphic designer currently based in Switzerland, publishes her book entitled Book Designers from the Netherlands, featuring a series of interviews of thirteen prominent contemporary Dutch book designers, and she aims to sell the book in advance of publication (April 2014).
Between 2010 and 2013, Brigitte Schuster interviewed thirteen prominent contemporary book designers from the Netherlands: Joost Grootens, Karen Polder, Ron van Roon, Françoise Berserik, Armand Mevis, Walter Nikkels, Hansje van Halem, Robbert and Oscar Schrover, Caroline de Lint, Bram de Does, Tessa van der Waals, Adriaan de Jonge. Coloured illustrations of the book designers and their works are featured in this 300 page book.
The selected book designers represent different generations and are shaped by a wide diversity of experience and backgrounds. Some are detail-oriented typographers, others rather conceptual graphic designers. Some use the book as a platform for self-expression while others see themselves simply as craftspeople. Overall, it provides a unique perspective on today's Dutch book design scene, exploring diverging opinions and practices of interest to a broad international community of designers and book enthusiasts.
This is a self-initiated project. Brigitte Schuster depends on you – book, typography, graphic design and book design lovers around the world – to make it a reality as a printed book. Please spread the word, share the information and support the project by ordering your own copy now in advance of publication together with a unique perk -- excerpts from the interview recordings.

Book Designers from the Netherlands - cover

Book Designers from the Netherlands - inside spread

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Alcuin Award-winning books travelling the world

The books that were chosen as the best designed and published in Canada in 2012 are travelling not only across our provinces and territories, but reaching distant lands such as Germany and Japan.

One of the big supporters of the Alcuin Society and its Awards is the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo. Under the care of Misako Terauchi, Assistant Library and Academic Relations Officer, our books were loved, treasured and exhibited inside the embassy library from July 15 to October 18. More than 3,300 visitors had a chance to admire these books, some of them being introduced to the collection while doing the tour of the Embassy. A representative of one of the Japanese major publishing house, who took a long time to examine all the details of each book, such as binding and paper, fell in love with Out of the Wood and purchased it online shortly after.

The collection is continuing its journey as it is loaned to the Printing Museum in Tokyo as part of the exhibition "World Book Design 2012-2013", which ends on March 2, 2014. There, our books are in select company there, next to award-winning books from Japan, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, China, Belgium, and books accepted for the World's Most Beautiful Book competition.

Many thanks to Shelley Gruendler, who designed this year's very visually-appealing and well-organized display cards, that accommodated the information in English, French, and Japanese. In the past years the cards in English and French were accompanied by separate Japanese translations.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A big thanks to all our lovely bidders

This year's auction is behind us, but it would not be fair to miss this opportunity to send a big thanks, not only to those involved in its organization, but also to all the bidders who generously contributed to the Alcuin Book Awards fund, while stuffing their shelves and Christmas socks with beautiful books.

Lovely auctioneers Ralph Stanton and Richard Hopkins. Credits: Patrick Dunn

Auctioneer John King making sure everybody knows who the King is. Credits: Patrick Dunn

Even if it is after Thanksgiving, I would still like to use this occasion to thank all our members, because you are the engine that keeps the Alcuin Society alive. Without our members, the society would not be able to exist and provide wonderful book events such as the Book Auction. Another major part of the society is its Board of Directors, who are the big, strong heart that moves the society forward: thanks for all the time and effort you are putting in organizing the Alcuin Society, its awards, events, publications and reminding us how delightful books are.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book Arts Fair in Toronto

The Printmaking Department of OCAD University organizes its 29th annual Book Arts Fair on Saturday, November 30, between 10 a.m and 5 p.m. in the Great Hall at 100 McCaul St in Toronto. Book artists, publishers, suppliers and students introduce their own original handmade books and publications for the public to browse and admire. The event also includes live performances, poetry readings and kid friendly craft workshops.

Admission is by donation, but generosity is much appreciated since the proceeds go toward supporting the Printmaking Department proposals and awards. Aboveground Art Supplies also contributed to the success of the Fair.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Beauty of the Book exhibit at UBC

UBC Libraries and UBC Press put together a new exhibit that hosts some of the most creative and well-designed books of 2013. Some of them come from the Book, Jacket, and Journal Show organized by the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) and consists of publications that were considered extraordinary both in design and production by judges in New York. Others come from our own Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, going on their worldwide tour that includes Germany and Japan. So if you missed the opportunity to see these winners at other events, you have one more chance.

The exhibit opens with a reception and refreshments on Monday, December 2, 5-7 p.m., at Irving K. Barber Learning Centre Concourse and is open through December 13.

No matter how dependent we are on digital technologies, nothing can replace the soft touch of paper and the character of a beautifully-printed page. Charming covers and rustling pages are a treat for eyes, ears and fingers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Judith Poirier acclaimed at the Ottawa International Animation Festival

For the Alcuin members who are avid readers of Amphora, Judith Poirier is no stranger. They should be familiar with her name and talents from Marlene Chan's excellent article, Enthusiasms and Eccentricities, published in our latest issue. The article examines Judith's approach of teaching book design at Université du Québec à Montréal. However, this September, Judith's experimental work, in which she uses print and film side by side, won her the Canadian Film Institute Award for Best Canadian Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for Two Weeks - Two Minutes.

The project was developed while she was in residency at the Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago and consists of a movie and a book that are a reflection of each other. The animation movie and its soundtrack were created by printing on celluloid using letterpress. The book was printed directly on the press using the collection of wood and metal type belonging to the Center.

Judith Poirier also received an Alcuin Honourable Mention in 2009 in the Limited Edition category for her typographical work in Dialogue.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Details of the Book Auction on Nov 16

For those interested in attending the Alcuin Book Auction on Nov 16, 1 p.m. at the UBC Golf Club, here are a few more reasons why they should come, other than their love of beautiful books, and appreciation of a good bargain.

We mentioned this is going to be fun, and you probably wonder how fun an auction can be.

First, you will be treated like a real bidder. As you come in, you will be given a paddle with a number, which will be your main tool as you play the auction game like a pro. You will have the opportunity to delicately wave it in style every time you bid on one of your favourites. Fear not, we accept cash, cheques or VISA at the end, so you can spend at your leisure, be it $10 or $200.

You should be prepared for a torrent of jokes and banter. The auctioneer, John King of J. King, Bookseller, coming all the way from Garden Bay on the Sunshine Coast, has an incredibly
wicked sense of humour. He will be assisted by our own Alcuin board director Ralph Stanton, Librarian Emeritus, with his flair for spontaneous jokes rooted in actuality.

Since there are more than 200 books on auction, it is impossible to go through all of them. Therefore, at the beginning of the auction, bidders are going to identify the books they are interested in, so that we make sure they go on auction. The bidding starts at half the price of the book, and could go up or down, depending on the interest. A very interesting feature is The Book that is Impossible to Sell category, which includes the most extravagant book deemed by the auctioneers as the least desirable. Ironically, The Book That is Impossible to Sell always sells.

Happy bidding and have a great time at the auction!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Lake District Digital Project at SFU

Margaret Linley and her collaborators took on the impressive project of digitizing the archive of the Lake District books existent at Special Collections at Simon Fraser University, also having in mind the connections between the bibliographical and digital environments. On Wednesday, November 20, she will talk about the details of this venture, with special emphasis on the debates that plague digital humanities. The event takes place at the Simon Fraser University campus in Burnaby -- see the poster below for more information. The talk is free and open to the public.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

UBC exhibit and talk on the Oxford English Dictionary

As English is the most spoken language in the world, an exhibition that tracks the evolution of the English-language dictionaries can only be compelling. The Rare Books and Special Collections department of the UBC library banks on this when it presents the exhibit called The Road to the Oxford English Dictionary, showing how dictionaries evolved and changed as to get to the comprehensive masterpiece that is nowadays the Oxford English Dictionary. The exhibit is free to the public and open November 7 to December 24.

To accompany this exhibit, Stefan Dollinger, assistant professor of English language at UBC, will give a talk called The Oxford English Dictionary, the Grimm Brothers, and Miley Cyrus on November 15 at 12 p.m. He will provide a short history of the dictionary, and discuss the range of words that are, and should or should not be included in this staple representation of the English language. The talk is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Reminder: Alcuin Book Auction on Nov 16

The deadline for signing up for the lunch preceding the Book Auction has been extended to November 11. This is your chance to browse the books before the auction and chat with fellow book lovers.

If you decide to skip the lunch, you are still welcome to attend the auction, and bid on your favourites from a selection of more than 200 books, of all kinds and sizes, tastes and prices, each and every one of them exquisitely produced. You can find more information here.

All proceeds go towards funding next year's awards, so we thank you for supporting the Alcuin Book Awards. As a non-profit organization, the Alcuin Society relies solely on the resources and passion of its members.

Monday, November 04, 2013

David Zieroth at Vancouver Public Library

Alcuin Society and Vancouver Public Library have the pleasure to invite you to meet David Zieroth on Wednesday, November 20, at 7 pm. He will read an excerpt from his latest book, The November Optimist, published by Gaspereau Press. He will also talk about his previous book, Palominos, as well as his collaboration with Gaspereau Press. The event will take place at the Central branch, on 350 West Georgia Street.

David Zieroth won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry for The Fly in Autumn. His work reflects his own life journey, dotted with rural scenery and profound meditation. He currently lives in North Vancouver, where he also owns a small press, the Alfred Gustav Press.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose in Kentville

It must be perfect time for the wayzgoose, because here comes another one. Gaspereau Press in Kentville, NS, is going to entertain their friends, guests and passers-by with a full day of printing and literary events this Saturday, October 26. They will start their fourteenth annual Wayzgoose at 10 am with a Literary Salon, which will feature authors Sue Goyette and Dana Mills. The Open House starts at 2 pm (but not only, because anybody can actually walk in and witness the preparations starting noon). The press staff will organize demos, such printing and papermaking. The Wayzgoosy Evening will conclude the event with readings and talks from 7 to 9:30 pm. All these delightful events are free and open to the public, so layperson or connoisseur alike can participate in this celebration of the printed word. This Saturday is a good day to be in Kentville.

For more information, please check the Gaspereau Press blog.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Alcuin Book Auction

This must be my favourite event of the year: what can be more enjoyable than getting your greedy hands on some remarkable brand new books at a bargain price, in an auction filled with humour, after enjoying a lunch where you can meet and chat with fellow bibliophiles/auctioneers, and all for the good cause of supporting the Alcuin Awards? It is a long question, I know, but that's how many good reasons you have to attend this amazing event.

These books fought hard for a place in the Alcuin Awards Hall of Fame and now it is time for them to grace your own homes just in time for Christmas. The over 200 books for sale were submitted to the Alcuin Awards in 2013 or won the competition in 2012, and some of them are not available elsewhere. These are not just ordinary books; they are skilfully designed and beautifully produced, and were considered by our Canadian publishers to represent their very best work. The books belong to the following categories: Children, Limited Editions, Pictorial, Poetry, Prose Fiction, Prose Non-Fiction, Prose Non-Fiction Illustrated, and Reference. For a peek at last year's winners, also for auction, you can visit our online catalogue. And now it is your chance to have fun playing the auction game and bid like a pro, dealing in cents rather than thousands of dollars.

The event is preceded by an optional lunch where you have a chance to meet and chat with fellow book lovers. As an added bonus, you will have the opportunity to see the books closer if you come half an hour earlier. The lunch costs $18 and you need to book your seat at Eventbrite by November 8. Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions by emailing membership(at) The event takes place on November 16 (lunch starts at 12 pm, auction starts at 1 pm) at UBC Golf Club on 5185 University Boulevard, Vancouver.

All proceeds will go towards supporting the Alcuin book design competition. This is the only Canadian competition of its kind, to advocate excellence in publishing and book design, and encourage Canadian designers and publishers to do their best work in an attempt to help print endure. We accept cash, cheques and VISA for the auction.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Type Camp Calligraphy Workshop

Type Camp presents its second calligraphy workshop and this time it is double the fun, as it takes place over two Saturdays, October 26 and November 9. The event is hosted at the fashionable Fluevog location in Gastown, responsible for some of the most unique and trendy shoes on the planet (as an added bonus attendees will get 15% off their purchases on the camp days).

Calligraphy has got a strong comeback recently, decorating and embellishing logos, websites, book covers, posters, business and greeting cards. While it can be a helpful skill in a graphic designer's job, it does not need to be limited to the experts: anybody can take advantage of a beautifully penned script, which, I can attest, can be achieved by the end of the workshop. It can be used for anything from decorating gift wraps and preserves jars, to creating your own works of art or even entire accent walls. What you do with beautiful letters can only be limited by your own imagination.

The workshop will cover a wide range of techniques, including italic hand and brushwork, which then can be used in fun experiments. Throughout the entire process, you will be taught and guided by Seattle script designer Laura Worthington and Vancouver award-winning calligrapher Martin Jackson. The team will be completed by Shelley Gruendler, the Camp Master, who will help refine your creative process and cheer you up with her bubbly personality when your brush stroke gets out of control.

No experience is necessary, nor are computers: this is a great opportunity to get away from the screen, get your hands dirty and have fun. Supplies are included in the cost of the camp ($329 for both days). The registration is closing soon, on October 24, and there are just a couple of spots left, so make sure to act swiftly. You can find more details here.

Calligraphy workshop, April 2013, Vancouver

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Alcuin Awards night in Toronto

The Eastern Canada Awards took place on October 7, 2013 at The Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. While some might be so overwhelmed by the number of awards given to Andrew Steeves of Kentville, Nova Scotia to consider these “The East Coast Awards” the facts are that designers travelled to Toronto from Winnipeg (Brandon Bergem), from Montreal Jeff Kulak and Jolin Masson, Patrick Bisson, and Mathieu Cournoyer (of Multiple) and from Merrickville, (near Ottawa), Larry Thompson and Holly Dean of Greyweathers Press. In addition, Toronto and area designers, Zab, Carelton Wilson, Mark Goldstein, Linda Gustafson and Peter Ross also attended. There were 82 people in attendance for the evening.

The evening also marked the opening of an exhibition in The Great Hall of the Arts and Letters Club organized by Club Members (and Alcuin members) Stan Bevington, Don McLeod and Chester Gryski entitled Winning Book Design: The Elements Combined. The Exhibition in two parts displayed original drawings by Carl Dair for Cartier and the development of work from preliminary drawings to final product with work by Tim Inkster for Out of the Wood, Wallace Edwards for Uncle Wally’s Old Brown Shoe (Alcuin award winners this year) and from George Walker for The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson (Alcuin Award winner last year) and Tom McNeely. This Exhibition will remain on view at the Club until the end of October. Unfortunately, there is no public viewing of this exhibit planned. Those who know a club member can visit the Club with that person to view the exhibit.

Will Rueter attended the evening and we were able to honour him as the latest recipient of the Robert R. Reid Award and medal.

Brian Maloney and Will Reuter at the Alcuin Awards. Credit: Don McLeod
The speaker for the evening was Rod McDonald who spoke about the development of Cartier. Rod has researched this topic in the Carl Dair fonds held at Massey College in Toronto. He shared with his audience some of the facts about Carl Dair and Cartier that he has gleaned from this research and the insights that he has gained.   

Rod McDonald in front of a sample display of Cartier Book. Credit: Don McLeod
In all, a well received and very successful evening.

Chester Gryski

Thursday, October 10, 2013

UBC exhibition: Charles Van Sandwyk and the Children's Literary Tradition

UBC Library's Rare Books and Special Collections put together a beautiful exhibit revolving around Charles Van Sandwyk and the Children's Literary Tradition. Admission is free and open to the public Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday, 12 pm to 5 pm, till October 31. The exhibition also includes works by Walter Crane, Arthur Rackham, and Beatrix Potter. Just by taking in the dreamy, charming quality of the posters (I had to include both of them, I find them irresistible), it is easy to imagine a display meant to delight both children and adults.

Just before the exhibit closes, you will also have a chance to meet Charles Van Sandwyk, on Wednesday, October 30, between 12 and 1:30 pm. The event is free and there will be refreshments.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Wayzgoose impressions

Those who missed Wayzgoose on Saturday, October 5, will have to wait for another two years for another chance. The event was extraordinary, colourful and vivid, thanks to all participants and the Vancouver Public Library, and of course, to the hundreds of people who came to celebrate local printing presses, publishers, and book and paper artists.

There were many amazing exhibitors and demonstrations that captivated the public, so it is very hard to single out just a few of them. But one of my favourite was the paper marbling demonstration made by Phyllis Greenwood. The patterns, the colours, the process were all unexpected and fascinating.

Marbled paper making at Wayzgoose 2013

Marbled paper making at Wayzgoose 2013

This composition of metal ornaments ornaments and brass rule from the Bowler Press, is incredible. It represents the June page from the 2014 Vancouver Letterpress League calendar printed in limited edition, that celebrates a variety of printing techniques.

Wayzgoose Vancouver, 2013

Wayzgoose Vancouver, 2013

Finally, Gary Sim from Sim Publishing put together a beautiful relief printing demonstration and gave away the resulting prints to the delight of the attending audience. The outcome was a wonderful keepsake that should remind us of this year's wonderful Wayzgoose.

Wayzgoose Vancouver, 2013

Wayzgoose Vancouver, 2013

You can see more photos from the event here. Thanks again to all those who made this event such a fun place to be on Saturday (especially to the two wonderful organizers, Gina Page from the Alcuin Society, and Helena Jehnichen, the event organizer).

Photos by Jason Vanderhill.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Weekend bibliophile events, October 5-6

Here are a few more book events coming this weekend, October 5-6, and if the weather is as nice as the forecasters promised, don't miss this occasion to have a long walk to the venues of these book events and check them out.

First of all, we hope the Alcuin Wayzgoose is on everybody's agenda. It is a great chance to meet the publishers and book artists, buy great books and memorabilia, and witness demonstrations of various book crafts such as bookbinding and papermarbling. The event is held at the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library on Georgia Street, from 10 am to 4 pm and admission is free.

Vancouver Book/Art Fair, presented by Project Space, runs October 5 and 6 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The event features a series of screenings and talks about contemporary book issues. Additionally, check out the events of Artists' Books Weekend with shows and book launches.

Sunday night, Christina Johnson-Dean and Mother Tongue Publishing will launch the book The Life and Art of Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher at Railway Club on 579 Dunsmuir Street, from 5-8 pm. It is a great chance to meet the author and follow her beautifully illustrated talk.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Alcuin Book Awards Recap - Round 3

Last night we had a chance not only to revisit the winning books of this year's Alcuin Awards in Vancouver, but to see some of the people responsible for the amazing designs. Then, David Esslemont captivated us with an account of the journey that took him to the place he is now in his life and career in his talk "Making books -- and chili." He started his presentation by noting that "chefs and book designers have something in common: they are obsessed with detail, the quality of the material, production and creativity." In the end, he declared: "If you combine choice ingredients, with a dash of insight and a little hindsight, you can make great books, and even some great chili." In between, his recollections took us through England, Italy, Wales and the United States, on a trip full of adventure, chance encounters, career turning points and food references. The audience was charmed by his tales, his sense of humour, and not the least, of his impersonation of Prince Charles. The Toronto ceremony is coming on October 7th, when East Coast book lovers will have their opportunity to celebrate the Alcuin Awards winners.

And now, to the last round of winners. (If you missed them, here are Round 1 and Round 2.)

The first prize in the Limited Edition category, The Waiting Room by Jonathan Locke Hart is simply a work of art. The designer Susan Colberg amazed the judges with the execution of the craft details, exceptional illustrations and outstanding presentation. The materials used feel luxurious and confer the book the status of a true limited-edition tome. The book is published by the University of Alberta, printed by Sean Caulfield (who also contributed with the illustrations) and Steven Dixon.

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

Black, by George Elliott Clarke, got the second prize in the Poetry category. The arresting quality of this book is delivered by the use of bright white paper which makes the black ink look even blacker. The full-bleed photos add a creative punch, without dominating the layout. The overall effect is that of a superb frame for the poetic content. Black is designed by Andrew Steeves, and printed and published by Gaspereau Press, using Garamond Premier Sans and Gill Sans.

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

Love and the Mess We're In, by Stephen Marche, is hard to describe. The winner of the first prize in the Prose Fiction category, it is a one-of-a-kind book, in terms of both content and form. As a fiction book, it achieves the rare feat of having a different layout for almost every spread. Andrew Steeves managed not only to embrace the challenge of designing and illustrating (with Jack McMaster) this book, but to create a truly beautiful and unique typographic masterpiece in the process. The book is printed and published by Gaspereau Press, mainly using Huronza typeface.

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition 

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

Monday, September 30, 2013

Alcuin Awards Ceremony - the Toronto edition

The book lovers on the East Coast will also have a chance to admire this year's winning books at the Alcuin Awards dinner in Toronto. Besides having a chance to meet some of the winners, guests will also have the opportunity to hear Rod McDonald speak about Carl Dair and his amazing typeface, Cartier. Rod McDonald is a type designer who created such wonderful faces such as Slate, Gibson, and of course Cartier Book. Some of the award-winning books have featured his typefaces. For a peek at them, you can see Round 1 and Round 2 of the winners, and stay tuned for Round 3.

Will Reuter will also be attending the event, when he will receive the sixth Robert R. Reid Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Book Arts, celebrating his work as a book designer.

The event will start at 5:30 pm, on Monday, October 7th, at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, 14 Elm Street. It costs $24.75 (it includes the dinner), which is payable at the door by cash, credit or debit cards, but reservations are required. Please call Naomi Hunter at (416) 597-0223 ext. 3 to reserve your spot, and to specify any food allergies or special requirements.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Alcuin Awards Ceremony - the Vancouver edition

On Wednesday, October 2, we will have the pleasure to meet and celebrate some of the winners of the Alcuin Awards. Sue Colberg, the designer of The Waiting Room, will be there to accept the first prize in the Limited Editions category, and Mark Timmings will receive the second prize for Group Search / Memory Palace in the Pictorial category. Jessica Sullivan really impressed the judges this year, scoring prizes and honourable mentions in five of the eight existing categories, and naturally she will be there to collect. The Children's category - my favourite - will be graced with the presence of both Sara Gillingham, who tied for first and second place, and Robin Mitchell Cranfield, who got a honourable mention. Even if not all winners will be able to make it, those present at the ceremonies will have the privilege of seeing and touching all the winning books. If you want to have a peek before, you can see some of them in the first and second recap. Stay tuned for the third.

If this is not enough to convince you to attend this event, wait, there is more. David Esslemont is the guest speaker and he will give a compelling lecture intriguingly called "Making Books -- and Chili," in which he will talk about his career in book design and his latest project, the cookbook Chili: A Recipe. This summer, the book received one of the Best in Show Awards at Feast! Celebrating Food and Book Art  at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland. Esslemont is an artist, printer and bookbinder who lives in Decorah, Iowa.

The Alcuin Awards Ceremony will take place on October 2, at 7 pm (come at 6:30 if you want to have a chance to look at the winning books), at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, 1399 Johnston Street, in the South Building auditorium. The event is free of charge.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Word Vancouver

Formerly known as The Word on the Street, Word Vancouver started on Wednesday, September 25 and continues till Sunday, September 29. Held at the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, Word celebrates reading and literacy with compelling events from book exhibits to talks and performances. See the whole schedule here.

The Alcuin Society will participate in the festivities on Sunday, September 29, from 11 am to 4 pm, with a booth displaying the winners of this year's Book Awards. This is a great chance to admire outstanding book design and publishing, while attending performances and workshops, and meeting a Canadian author or two.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Exhibition of 111 West Coast Literary Portraits and Alcuin Society 2013 Book Design Awards

As part of Culture Days, Leigh Square Community Arts Village in Port Coquitlam is organizing a joint exhibition of 40 of the portraits from Mother Tongue's 111 West Coast Literary Portraits by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright, and Alcuin Society 2013 Book Design Awards winners. The exhibition will be open between September 26 and October 24, and books and portraits will be for sale.

The opening reception is on Saturday, September 28, 2-4 pm. On this occasion, Elee Kraljii Gardiner and Claudia Cornwall will have the opportunity to read and talk about their work.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Alcuin Book Awards 2013 Recap - Round 2

The winners of the Alcuin Society Book Awards will be honoured on October 2 in Vancouver and October 7 in Toronto, but the competition took place way back in March. The Alcuin Society members got a chance to admire the winners' work in their own catalogues, but now it is a good time to remember why we celebrate them. Before the ceremonies start, we will present some of the awarded books at random -- it's so hard to pick and choose from all the typographic and publishing goodness. The first series can be seen here.

There were many wonderful entries in the Children's Books category, which made the judges choices all more difficult. Surprisingly, a colouring book found its way to the top: Robot Feels Sleepy, published, designed and illustrated by Jeff Kulak, got one of the two second prices. What is even more remarkable is that Jeff folded and hand-stitched each copy. The judges appreciated its originality, its clean and simple design and layout.

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

The first prize in the Prose Non-fiction Illustrated category went to Living the Canadian Dream: How Canadian Tire Became Canada's Store. Written by Daniel Stoffman, designed by Linda Gustafson and Peter Ross, this book is a lovely piece of corporate history. Flaunting an unusual cover, the book was commended for the great production details, particularly the headband, endpapers, and two-piece binding.

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

When it comes to the Prose Fiction category, the cover carries a lot of weight in the overall design than in other categories, not only due to the creative potential, but also because of the fewer alternatives in designing the content. With Y, Marjorie Celona's first novel, the judges noticed the compelling cover, but also the superior stamping on the binding, and the clean, readable text in Sabon and Didot. The book is designed by Lisa Jager, and published by Hamish Hamilton Canada.

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition

The 2012 Alcuin Design Competition