Friday, July 20, 2007

Biblioasis Logos

For some time I've been thinking about press logos. PQL has their printer's devil; Coach House their press; Anansi their 'A'; Gaspereau their 'G'. I've heard from many people, including some of Biblioasis' authors, that they thought we needed some visual to latch onto. I've agreed: but it's not been something I've had a lot of time to give much thought to.

Biblioasis is not even officially -- by the standards of the Canada Council or any of the main publishing bodies -- 3 years old. We won't hit our 3rd year until we celebrate the anniversary of the launch of Salvatore Ala's Straight Razor and Other Poems, our first title, published in October 2004. But I've been around enough now to have lost a goodly deal of my illusions about publishing in Canada. There's no audience (except, of course, for you, my handful of Thirsty readers); little financial support or incentive (those who believe grants are some form of golden cow, guess again: and a new player like Biblioasis is close to last at a rather well-sucked teat. After {nearly} three years I can tell you artistic excellence, whatever the hell that may be to most people, seems to have little to do with much of anything.); there's long, long, long hours. And this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the top of what is a long litany of complaint...

And yet, I love what I do. Despite the financial stress, the hours, the indifference; the frequent bouts of 2 AM despair.

At Book Expo last month, Patrick Crean introduced me to some Penguin Editors as 'the bravest publisher in Canada.' Not something I much believe, nor want around my neck. I rejoined by saying that I thought I was likely just the most foolish.

Hence the windmills.

Publishing in Canada is a fool's venture. Maybe it wasn't in the 1960s and 1970s, when so many of our literary publishers started out, but it certainly is now. We are all in some form or another tilting at windmills, riding our nags off into the sunset, to the general ridicule and indifference of the majority. Biblioasis could quit publishing today, this moment -- and there are days, trust me, I think about it -- and only a few would notice. Most booksellers in this country would not notice, the bureaucrats at the arts councils, god bless 'em -- after all, we get the patrons we deserve -- would not notice, most quote-unquote avid readers would not bat a lash. Yet I believe, fervently, that what we are doing here in our office above the garage in a former onion-field in southwestern Ontario is exceptionally important, that the writers we have published are the best in the country, some of them as good as any writing anywhere, any time. I have faith in them, in what they produce, in what might be described as our collective aesthetic project. And if like so many faiths my own in founded in some fashion on a delusion so be it.

So the windmill: foolishness, futility, industry, faith. Seems to capture the publishing industry as I understand it perfectly.

The three versions above are sketches by friend and artist Tony Calzetta, who's put quite a bit of work into this. I think it will come down to some version of one of these. To be seen on a Biblioasis spine and colophon on a Fall 2007 book coming soon.


Zachariah Wells said...

I like #1 best, Dan. And shouldn't it be "nags" rather than "hags"? Altho I must say I've already got quite some imaginative mileage out of the image!

Foolishly yrs,

biblioasis said...

yes it should, damn you. though perhaps i'll let it stand. (or perhaps not).

I like one too, though i worry about how it will reporduce at a small scale. I'll keep you posted.