THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other certified bibliophiles.
Anne Giardini on Carol Shields and the Prize for Fiction named after her
Only seventeen women have won the Nobel Prize for Literature since it started in 1901. That's 17 out of 119 winners. In order to rectify this imbalance, an important new prize has been established. The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction is "the first English-language literary award to celebrate creativity and excellence in fiction by women writers in the United States and Canada."
I wanted to learn more about Carol Shields, so I read Startle and Illuminate, Carol Shields on Writing and interviewed one of its editors, Anne Giardini, who also happens to be Carol's daughter in addition to being a writer, and Chancellor of Simon Fraser University.
Startle and Illuminate is culled from decades worth of Carol's correspondence, essays, notes, comments, criticism and lectures, and drawn together by Anne and her son Nicholas.
Anne and I talk here about, among other things, Carol's thoughts and advice on the craft of writing; redemption; Carol's voice on the page and in the air; the existence of ordinary, boring people; the invisibility of women's lives; group courage; rootedness; and candles matching housecoats.
Dan Mozersky on setting up Indigo Books in Canada
Dan Mozersky enjoyed a long and fruitful career in Canada's retail book industry. As a founding member of Indigo Books & Music's executive team he was instrumental in turning the company's vision into reality.
During the 1990s he served as manager of U.S. Operations for Classic Books in New York. Prior to this he founded and owned a chain of retail bookstores in Ottawa and Montreal.
Active in the Canadian Booksellers Association (CBA), he served as director, vice president, and chair of various industry committees. In 1985 he was recognized by the Canadian Book Publishers' Professional Association as bookseller of the year.
We talk here in Part ll of our conversation about Dan's work with the CBA, and how he helped establish Indigo Books, Canada's largest chain of big box bookstores.
Bill Waiser on Almighty Voice, and the writing and re-writing of History
Bill Waiser is a western Canadian historian. He has published more than a dozen books– many of them prize-winning. A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905, for example, won the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.
Bill has been appointed to the Order of Canada, awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, named a distinguished university professor, and granted a D.Litt. He was the 2018 recipient of the Royal Society of Canada J.B. Tyrrell medal, presented for “outstanding work” in Canadian history, as well as the 2018 Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Berton Award.
We talk about his most recent book In Search of Almighty Voice,
Resistance and Reconciliation (Fifth House, 2020), about the life of Almighty Voice - a member of the One Arrow Willow Cree who died violently at the hands of Canada's North-West Mounted Police in 1897 - and how his violent death spawned a succession of conflicting stories — in newspapers, magazines, pulp fiction, plays and film; about how history is written and re-written, and why an 'accurate' depiction of the life and death of Almighty Voice matters.
Clarification: According to Statscan indigenous people make up 4.9% of Canada's population, 16.3% of Saskatchewan's population.
Matt Dorfman on the best book covers dust jackets of 2020
Matt Dorfman is an internationally recognized designer and illustrator. He is the art director of the New York Times Book Review and former art director of the New York Times Op-Ed page. Additionally, he maintains a one-person office specializing in work for publishers, film, theater and various cultural institutions.
I talked with Matt recently about his selection of the best book covers of 2020 for the New York Times Book Review - dissecting his decision-making process and judgement calls. Among other things we discuss the differences between designing the book review and op-ed sections, the delays between creating a jacket design and it appearing in public, dust jackets capturing zeitgeists, the tension between commerce and art, the power of jealousy, gateway drugs John Gall, David Pearson, and Roy Kuhlman, being haunted by Barbara de Wilde, Carin Goldberg, and Louise Fili, collecting dust jackets, how much our wives hate books, and visual literacy.
Larry McMurtry (R.I.P.) on Book Ranching. Bookselling
Novelist, screenwriter and essayist Larry McMurtry is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1985 novel Lonesome Dove, a sweeping historical epic that follows ex-Texas Rangers as they drive cattle from the Rio Grande to Montana. (Update: Larry died yesterday, March 25, 2021).
He grew up on a ranch outside of Archer City, Texas, which is the model for his fictional town of Thalia. A book collector, McMurtry purchased a rare book store in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighbourhood in 1970 and named it Booked Up. In 1988 he opened a second Booked Up in Archer City, establishing the town as a "Book City." This store is arguably the largest single used bookstore in the United States, carrying somewhere between 400,000 and 450,000 titles.
McMurtry is well-known for the film adaptations of his work, especially Hud (from the novel Horseman, Pass By), The Last Picture Show; James L. Brooks’s Terms of Endearment, and Lonesome Dove, which became an enormously popular television mini-series. In 2006, he was co-winner (with Diana Ossana) of both the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain.
I interviewed him ( in 2008) as part of a project I was working on for the Canadian Booksellers Association. We talk about his latest, Books: A Memoir, his life as a book rancher, having the right books, junk, the fun of the hunt, book-scouting, catalogues, bookstores and cultural vitality, keeping stock fresh, burning out on fiction and movies, the declining number of used book stores, and optimism for the future.
Richard Nash on the Business of Literature, Part ll
Richard Nash is a coach, strategist, and serial entrepreneur. He led partnerships and content at the culture discovery start-up Small Demons and the new media app Byliner. Previously he ran independent publishers Soft Skull Press and Red Lemonade where he published Maggie Nelson, Lynne Tillman, Vanessa Veselka’s Zazen, Alain Mabanckou, and many others. He was awarded the Association of American Publishers’ Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing in 2005.
We met via Zoom (as I'm sure you'll be able to tell) to talk more about his article 'What is the Business of Literature?', about where publishing has been, technology and "the shock of the old," repurposing technology, essential reading, the influence of capitalism on publishing, copyright, great books not seeing the light of day, dance floors, reading, and the richness of book history.
Excellent podcast! Worth your time!
It’s a great podcast about all things books and publishing. Really insightful topics, sometimes episodes are about things I didn’t even know I was interested in.