Showing posts with label miscellaneous. Show all posts
Showing posts with label miscellaneous. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Month-end (Mostly Short Fiction) Round-up

It was my plan this month to do a series of ambitious posts on short fiction, with author interviews, story serializations from forthcoming and recently published collections, links to reviews, and much else. But May is, as always, the cruelest month around the Bibliomanse, and even with Tara taking Congress off of my hands -- she is currently in Fredericton manning a booth for us at the Congress Bookfair -- this month has proved more than the three of us in office could manage. Yet a range of things short fiction related have been happening these past few days, so I thought I'd just round them up here.

1) The 2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award Longlist was announced today, and two Biblioasis collections made the cut: Alexander MacLeod's Light Lifting and Clark Blaise's The Meagre Tarmac. Congrats to both. More information on the longlist can be found here.

2) As mentioned in another post, Cathy Stonehouse is guest-hosting The Afterword this week, and her second post, Lucky, is now up. Read it here.

3) Cathy Stonehouse was interviewed by Dan McPeake on SFU/CJSF's Encounters on Monday, which can be listened to here.

4) Reviews keep coming in for Light Lifting, including a few online at Corduroy Books
Mostly Fiction
The Malahat Review
Foreword Reviews (not online, but the reviewer writes, in part: "Alexander MacLeod … writes with a devastating command of tone…. He isn’t afraid to leave his readers uncomfortable; he knows they’ll return for more lessons about loss and its hair’s-breadth distance away.... Quietly brilliant, brilliantly determined, these are stories that stay in the mind long after the book is closed."

5) It's worth mentioning that though Light Lifting did not win the Danuta Gleed Award -- that honour went to Billie Livingston (congrats!) -- it was one of the finalists. Congrats to Alex for that as well.

6) Another excellent review of The Meagre Tarmac was published recently in Quill & Quire. Not up yet, alas. But how many excellent reviews does a book have to get before you part with 19.95? It's had enough? Well, then: you're in luck, as Clark will be launching in Toronto -- alongside his wife Bharati Mukherjee -- at the Dora Keogh next Monday at 7 pm. It'll be one of the year's highlights, as far as I am concerned. And there will, of course, be books for sale.

7) Steven Beattie has continued his now yearly 31 Days of Short Stories, and he spent one of them analyzing Alexander MacLeod's story The Loop. You can read that essay here. The rest are worth checking out as well.

8) I hear that there is a very positive review of Terence Young's The End of the Ice Age in the current Fiddlehead, where it is suggested that this collection confirms the reviewer in his opinion that we are the press for the short story in Canada. We're thrilled, but really: who else would even want that title?

9) In non-short fiction news, Biblioasis poet Shane Neilson has been shortlisted for the Trillium Award for Poetry for his subsequent collection Complete Physical. Congrats to Shane!

10) A preview/excerpt of our forthcoming Wage Slave Glossary can be read in the July issue of Harpers.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ides of March

It's a sunny day around the Bibliomanse, and while voluntarily standing between the pipes in the driveway and being used for target practice (as solid a definition of publishing as I have come up with in recent days) my mind has been wandering: to Elizabeth Taylor (namely: The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues); my own annoying virtues and vices (though mainly, of late, the latter); how those who declaim the loudest are often the most fearful; to the creeping horror I feel over an impending Aid to Publishers application and the extent to which I will go to avoid it (witness this blog post); the not-so-quiet desperation all publishers must feel when talking to accountants; to what we have to do as publishers to sell a book, and how much we can reasonably and rightly expect from our writers when we do so; about the to-ing and fro-ing between a certain poet and dynamo on this very subject over at Ephemeris; about the Ides of March and where the knife will come from; about Factotums and the book trade; how poorly we have, as publishers, made clear what it is we do here, and how much we do, and perhaps what we might do to change that; how a single 'thank-you' covers far more ground than a thousand belated apologies; from wage slaves to salary-serfs to whatever-the-hell I might be; to John Hartford and tall buildings, and how, even on a sunny early Spring day when I should be outside, I'm quite thankful that I don't work in them, even if it would mean that I'd get a bloody day off.

Also I've been thinking about Abraham, or one poet's portrait of him, and that I too will look forward to a time that "the incoherent promises of God go to seed / And miracles take root in the world..."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Customs (& Habit)

My favourite passage in Terry Griggs's excellent Thought You Were Dead has her hero at a countryside diner, The Coffee Nook, amongst a crew which includes Nietzsche-quoting farmers and Annie Dillard reading waitresses. This Friday, heading over to the US to do an American mailing of ARCs and review copies and a few sold books besides, I had a real-life taste of this Griggsian world. Normally crossing the border is the most stressful part of the whole ordeal, far worse than waiting in line for an hour or so at the Fort Street post office, worse than spending an hour plus affixing stamps to the 198 review copies we had with us on this occasion. The general rule is the more interest a border agent takes in what you're bringing across, the more likely you're in for it. Books may be duty free, and what we're doing may be completely legal, but when you're ordered to put your car into park, and the agent takes your ID, and you know you're in a no man's land that's not beholden to the laws of either the country you left or the one you're trying to make a brief foray into, any deviation from the usual quick glance at your ID and paperwork before taking your 10.75 causes more than a little anxiousness. And this agent was taking his own sweet time.

"What's this Combat Camera you're bringing over," he asked, I told him, treading lightly over the pornography storyline, just in case he got the wrong idea. "And Light Lifting? The Meagre Tarmac?" I told him. "All review copies going to newspapers and magazines across the country. The lists of recipients are attached." And they were

He flipped to the last few pages, of books I was bringing across for paying customers. A few Biblioasis titles, used book orders from the internet, odds and sods. Among them was Ryszard Kapuscinski's I Wrote Stone.

"And what about this one?" he asked, referencing the Kapuscinski. I was worried: it's an obviously foreign-sounding name, a possible red flag. This had happened before, when someone came across Goran Simic's name. And this guy was asking far too many questions. I told him it was a book of Kapuscinski's poetry we published a few years ago.

"Well now," he drawled, "Ryszard Kapuscinski isn't exactly well known for his poetry, now, is he?"

I had to agree that, indeed, he was not. And so we chatted for a few moments about Ryszard Kapuscinski and our books and press before he asked for 10.75, handed me back my passport and sent us on our way.

It did not end there. There was the usual long line at the post office, and I got into a discussion with the gent ahead of me about what we were doing with so many packages. On learning I was a publisher he asked about our books and seemed genuinely interested in what he heard. Then he said, "Well now, I've been working on a book for quite some time and I was just beginning to think of sending it around. Might you care to take a look?" Publishers get these requests all of the time: it's one of the reasons I always hesitate to let anyone know what it is I do. Everyone, after all, seems to believe they have a book in them (You know the old joke: There's a surgeon and a writer at a party. And the surgeon says to the writer...) I steeled myself for the usual, but this fellow ended up having an interesting story to tell, about his parents and the Detroit Riots of '68 and all that followed after, and by the end of it he had a card, and down the road perhaps I'll even have a manuscript to look at. Not my usual Detroit post office adventure, but one that leaves me a bit more hopeful when sending our books out there.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Zach Wells has a poem in this issue of the Walrus, called, I think 'Underwhelmed, if that's a word," which can be read here.

Again, in the Walrus, Biblioasis-friend and regular CNQ contributor Jeet Heer has an interesting essay on the Canada Reads phenomenon.

Stephen Henighan -- currently warping young minds over in Paris, France -- is at it again the pages of Geist, this time with an thoughtful essay on the BookNet Dictatorship.

There's a fab new Amy Jones story up at Taddle Creek, titled Atikokan is for Lovers.

Cynthia Flood has a new story up at Found Press called Addresses.

Though it isn't online, the current issue of Fiddlehead has a moving story, Freight, by Shane Neilson.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wanted: Salary Serf for Biblioasis employment

That's right. The rumours are true. Biblioasis is looking to hire a full-time publishing assistant, to start some time in early March. Though it will involve moving to the Windsor-area, we will do our best to make it worth your while. Details, for those interested, below. Please pass along to any and all who might be looking to get ink -- real and proverbial -- under their nails.

* * *

About Biblioasis:

Biblioasis is one of the leading independent presses in the country, and has been called “the torchbearer for literary publishing in Canada” (Richard Bachmann, Different Drummer Books), “one of the bravest entities in Canadian literature” (The Walrus), and “the nation’s literary troublemakers.” (Maclean’s). Established in 2004 and based in Emeryville, 10 minutes outside of Windsor, Ontario, we prefer to think of ourselves as an intimate and motley assemblage of windmill chasers. Since 2004 we have published more than 80 trade books and chapbooks by many of the leading writers from Canada and abroad: these include Caroline Adderson, Clark Blaise, Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Griggs, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Annabel Lyon, Alexander MacLeod, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Rebecca Rosenblum, Ray Robertson, Leon Rooke, Robyn Sarah, Kathleen Winter and many others. Press series include the Biblioasis International Translation Series, edited by Stephen Henighan, and the Biblioasis Renditions series of Canadian classics. We also publish the critical journal CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries thrice yearly, a contrarian journal of cultural reviews, views and interviews (hence our reputation as the nation’s troublemakers.) For those interested in a full-on immersion in the world of Canadian publishing, where they can make a lasting contribution to literature in Canada, this is an opportunity not to be missed...


As we are a smaller independent press – quite literally a garage-based indie start-up – the prospective employee can expect to roll up his/her sleeves and eventually get involved in nearly all aspects of our publishing program, including editorial, administrative, production and marketing. Biblioasis responsibilities will include:

- copy-editing

- basic typesetting and design

- editorial and project management

- marketing press titles, including the writing and setting of copy and press releases, media mailings, following up on review copies, pitching media, and working on author tours

- helping to manage the website and press social media applications,

- general administrative tasks, including basic bookkeeping, bibliographic and database management.

On the CNQ side of the bill, the successful applicant can expect to work on editorial and marketing, including helping to manage our subscription campaigns.

Training will be provided, and the successful applicant will also accompany the publisher to a variety of trade shows, book fairs, sales conferences and PD sessions.


Post-Secondary Education

One-to-two years experience working in publishing and/or graduation from accredited publishing program


A knowledge and appreciation of Biblioasis titles, and a wider awareness of Canadian independent publishing and the Canadian literary community

InDesign, Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Word, Excel and Filemaker experience

Familiarity with a range of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and blogging software.

Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Extremely organized and detail-oriented

Ability to multi-task and work to deadline

The ability to create and edit EPUB files would be an asset

Interested applicants can send their resumes to Applications will be accepted until February 13th, with interviews to be scheduled over the following couple of weeks. For further information please contact Dan Wells at

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Biblioasis Best Sellers: Week of October 11th

According to Bookmanager:

1. Alexander MacLeod. Light Lifting
2. Terry Griggs. Nieve.
3. Marius Kociejowski. The Pigeon Wars of Damascus
4. Ray Smith. Century
5. A.J. Somerset. Combat Camera.

* this is the first time in 50 weeks Marty Gervais's Rumrunners did not crack the list. And the first time Ray Smith's Century has. I'm not sure what's causing that spike in interest, but I am quite thankful for it. Now if only the CBC had not set a 10 year limitation on its essential Canadian novels: perhaps we'd be able to to get that book the readership it really deserves.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It is what is called a soft launch. Meaning, that despite the fact that we are 10 months behind on this thing, it ain't yet close to being finished. But we still have a brand new website, and I must say, it looks smashing. Plenty of new features, including updated digital catalogue, forthcoming and featured books, links through Facebook and other social media, far better Event Calendar, excerpts (though not all of these are up yet), a new and improved shopping cart, e-books (though not all of these are up either), multiple book views, to recreate, as much as we are able, the tactile aspect of book shopping, and much else. Eventually you'll have an indie bookstore locator, audio, video and other media components, a fully incorporated redesigned blog, and much, much else. And when we learn to update it, hopefully next week, we'll keep it fresh, your one stop shop for all things Biblioasis-related.

So stop by, check it out. But go easy on us. We're not fully there yet, but we're getting there.

Thanks to Aleks, Sean and company at Soluble Design for the work, and finally, finally, getting this thing up and running.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Even a toddler can do it....

Zach found this and posted last week, but if you have not seen it it is worth a look.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Peripatetic Summer

It hasn't been a great summer of sailing this year: too much Biblioasis and CNQ work to catch up on, travel soccer, other things. Though we have managed to get out a few times. And, if the haze clears this morning, and you find yourself out on Lake St. Clair, you may find the Peripatetic out as well.
And after a couple of hours sailing, you might find us down at the boat wash for a quick swim.

See you out there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On the Perils of Technology; or Technochondria: BEA 2011 Post # 1

Today I am off to New York to attend Book Expo America for the second time in as many years, writing on a small electronic notebook, to post this onto Thirsty when I arrive at the hotel. This is simple but wonderful technology, which makes carrying work with me much less cumbersome than it would otherwise be. I've packed lightly for the trip: 2 1/2 days in New York, followed by 4 1/2 in Montreal, before I return home late on the 31st, with one carry-on dufflebag carrying all of my clothes and work materiels. A lesson learned from the fiasco of a volcano-interrupted London trip, when I packed far heavier and didn't use any of it. While away I'll finish two grants, submit one electronically, finish two other final reports, manage email, help put CNQ 79 to bed, do a bit of extra promotion in support of a few Spring books, write a handful of letters, finish a final edit of a manuscript, and still, hopefully, take in a new Mamet play when I am in New York.

A major part of the reason why I am going to BEA this year is for the professional development. There's a range of excellent sessions on this year, many of them dealing with e-books and digital technology. This is something I have to get a handle on over the summer: last year we digitized a good chunk of our list, we have a contract with Sony on our desk, and plans to pursue others over the summer. As Carolyn Kellogg wrote on Jacket Copy yesterday afternoon, e-books will be big here in New York this week. It's pretty obvious and bordering on a cliche to claim that e-books are beginning to play a serious role in publishing, and that any responsible publisher needs to start figuring out a digital plan. But it's no less true, and I'll be attending sessions on the coming digital revolution for a good chunk of this afternoon, tomorrow, and Thursday.

I've been trying to figure out a digital masterplan for Biblioasis in fits and starts over the course of the past year, but its not been easy: it's been hard enough keeping up on the day-to-day operations here. We need more help here, more time to think, less time bogged down in adminstration and bureaucracy and more freedom to actually sit down with a relatively clean plate and brainstorm. Don't expect that will be happening, alas, any time soon. In order to familiarize myself with the new technology I picked up a Sony E-Reader a little more tha a year ago, and though I only used it sporadically after the first month or so of ownership, I've been a big defender of it. It's small, attractive, easy to use, and I think it offers a far better reading experience than most of the other electronic reading devices I've handled, including the Kindle -- which I loathed on sight -- and the iPad, which is far too heavy, and too bright and hard on the eyes to read on for more than an hour or so at a time. I've used the Sony e-reader mainly for reading manuscripts, a few public domain books. So far I've only purchased one title: Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save, an impulse purchase after hearing him on the BBC last year, which made me realize the potential of these devices to increase sales. Determined to pack light, this time I downloaded three key manuscripts I wanted to get through while on this trip. Just today, on the way here, I was marveliing at the wonder and convenience of this technology, how its allowed me to pack far lighter than has been possible in the past.

But then the other shoe dropped. Carrying my bag on my shoulder, an egg and cheese sandwich from the airport foodstall, and my e-reader, my bag slipped off my shoulder and sent my e-reader flying. It only fell 2.5-3 feet, though it did so hard, from the unexpected force of the heavy bag coming down on my arm. It thankfully hit carpet, though hard indistrial airport fare. I didn't worry about it: the advertisements said that the reader should be able to handle this kind of fall. But when I turned the reader on to check on it the e-ink seemed to have spilled and pooled all on the one side of the screen. I tried to reset it, in the hopes that it might be okay, but to no avail: the damn thing is ruined, and I won't be getting to those manuscripts on this trip afterall.

If this had been a new book, the used bookseller in me would have had to downgrade the condition of the volume from Fine to Very Good: it would have suffered a bumped head or tail or corner. But it would have remained a fine book just the same, and I could have read it as I'd intended. If it had been a printed, unbound manuscript I might have had to reshuffle the pages, but I could have continued to work. (Thankfully I do have one of these with me, and it will benefit this trip from the extra attention.) But with an e-reader, a simple, everyday accident can ruin it, and leave you unable to continue. And you don't merely lose one book either: you lose a library, or at least the effort that goes into accumulating and organizing it. What I am now left with is yet another piece of attractive digitial junk.

I spent $300.00 on this reader, and would be surprised if I used it more than 100 hours in the last year. Not a very good investment, and it is unlikely I'll be replacing it any time soon. It's back -- at least in part due to financial necessity -- to good old hardcopy for this jet-setting publisher!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This Week's Biblioasis Bestsellers

I know, I know: Biblioasis and Bestsellers seems to be a contradiction in terms. Except that once this year when Rumrunners slipped in at number 10 on the Globe & Mail list. And that time in 2008 when Diana: A Diary in the Second Person made the Calgary bestseller lists for several weeks. But we *know* that that was Russell's parents buying up all of the available copies before anyone else could. I am, as always, profoundly grateful for family support: where would we be without our parents?

(If any of you other Biblioasis-o-philes have a work of literary smut out there to peddle, I'm beginning to think working in embarrassed families buying hundreds of copies makes just about as much sense as the rest of my business plan. At this point I am ready to try almost anything.)

But contrary to general belief, we do actually sell non-pornography from time to time. Just ask BNC. Though Russell's Diana is back in the top 5 titles, and has been for several weeks. I thought I'd post the top 5 selling Biblioasis titles this week according to Book Net Canada.

1. Marty Gervais. The Rumrunners.
2. Terry Griggs. Nieve.
3. Mauricio Segura. Black Alley.
4. Russell Smith. Diana: A Diary in the Second Person
5. K. D. Miller. Brown Dwarf.

*: Of course we don't know this. It's probably just all of those lonely oil men. Or women.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Atlantic Canada Reads

Chad Pelley, who had such nice things to say about Kathleen Winter's boYs last week, has started an Atlantic Canada Reads competition, and is asking readers from across the country to nominate their favourite book by an Atlantic Canadian. It got me thinking: I think we've published some of the best writing by Atlantic Canadians in the last several years, including the books you see here.

Amy Jones's What Boys Like anyone? Can't get more Atlantic Canada than Halifax.

Ray Smith's Century, winner of Kerry Clare's Canada Reads Independently? Any of you new converts to Smith want to try your hand at defending this book? Or how about his Cape Breton is the Thought Control Centre of Canada? Night at the Opera? The Flush of Victory?

Or what about Kathleen Winter's boYs?

No? then what about David Helwig's Saltsea, a novel taking place on the shores of P.E.I., and quite easily one of the best things David's done? You prefer poetry? Zach Wells's Track & Trace? David Hickey's In the Lights of a Midnight Plow? Shane Neilson's Meniscus? Help me out: let's get a Biblioasis title on Pelley's list!

Further information can be found here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Notes From A Stranded Publisher

This is, perhaps, why I've never bothered up to now to try and get to the U.K.

It has taken me 37 years to make my first trip to London, for next week's Book Fair. I wish that I could say, like Thoreau, that I was well-travelled in other ways, but it is, alas, not the case. University to bookshop to press, the last 12 years have been pretty tightly packed with other things. Throw in two boys seven and under, and my wife's business, which requires that she be available on an almost daily basis, and our opportunities to jetset about have been rather limited. Part of me regrets this -- who doesn't want to see oneself as a cosmoplitan world traveller? -- but part of me is quite happy to be an armchair traveller. And now the Gods -- being a bit of a megalomaniacal polytheist (& recent Battlestar Gallactica convert -- seem to be conspiring to give me a quick Continental Grand Tour, and I'm seeing much more of Europe than I expected to.

Without a word of a lie, on Wednesday morning, as we were passing Iceland, Alexis said to me: "You know, we should have planned a brief stopover in Amsterdam." Little did we know that at almost precisely that moment, a volcano had erupted, spewing ash capable of shutting down a jet engine. So perhaps it is her fault. I've always thought the dame had rather special abilities.

We were supposed to be in Amsterdam for an hour. We're into our third day. Much of this time has been spent trying to get our baggage, or arranging alternative modes of transport. We managed after several hours on the phone to rebook a flight with KLM, the Dutch Airline, who had the temerity to play Bjork records while we were on hold: as if Icelandic ash wasn't enough! Luckily we then went down to the central railway station, this still at before 6 am Amsterdam time, to get one of the last tickets on Sunday via train to London. A good thing too, as KLM has already cancelled our Sunday flight. So we'll be seeing Brussels and I assume France tomorrow via a train window, to arrive in London in the early evening.

We don't yet have our baggage, and there's a better than reasonable chance that we won't by the time we leave tomorrow morning. We've been lucky to get a decent hotel in the hearet of Amsterdam, at an exorbitant price, but there are travellers who have not had a bed for more than two days, and others who will be stranded longer than we will be.

Our main fear is that this ash cloud may not dissipate enough for us to leave on time next week. If the volcano keeps spewing ash, then there's a chance that things may stay shut down for quite some time. And the pressure on the airlines will be greater every day, as the accumulation of cancelled flights and backlog causes more and more problems. So we may very well cut our London trip short to try and find a way via train to the south in the hopes of finding a plane that can make Canada close to our original return.

Not all of it is bad, of course. We're making the best of things. Did a canal boat tour, had a wonderfully over-priced peasants' dinner in a restaurant dating from the 16th century, we're in a hotel from the 17th, hit a museum, the Red Light District, and we're planning on going to the Van Gogh museum and doing a trip to the countryside to see the tulip fields today. We're finally over our jetlag, which cost us much of yesterday. And we've learned a lot. For instance, you don't NEED to buy a beer to use the washroom in the bars around town, and if you shower enough, you can stretch the same set of clothes (almost) three days. The Dutch advertise their pornography channels using a Mozart soundtrack. Who knows what else we'll discover by the time we make it back to Canada?

I'll try and keep you all posted about the further European education of a provincial publisher.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Funnies

Many of you may have tripped on this glossary long before now. A first time for me. Enjoy.

publishing glossary

ADVANCE: A secret code signalling to the marketing department whether or not to promote a title.

ADVANCE COPY: A bound book that when opened by an editor will instantly expose an embarrassing mistake.

AGENT: An intellectual property and contract law specialist who is unable to pass the bar.

ANTHOLOGY: An artifact that has been superseded by stacks of velo-bound photocopied pages, usually unnumbered and with text cut off at the edges, known as CLASS READERS.

AUTHOR: A large class of individuals (approximately three times as numerous as readers) serving a promotional function in book marketing or providing make-work for editorial interns.

AUTHOR BIO: A piece of creative writing whose length varies inversely with the attractiveness of the person depicted in the AUTHOR PHOTO.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Pictorial fiction. Authors always choose photos that emphasize that quality in which they feel most deficient.

AUTHOR TOUR: A hazing ritual intended to make authors compliant to their publishers.

AUTHOR’S DISCOUNT: A penalty charged authors who are unable to wheedle sufficient masses of free copies, purportedly for the purpose of promotion, from their editors.

To see from B-Z please visit Tom's site, here.