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.
Richard Katrovas on Publishing and Creative Writing Programs
I'm in Prague for the Summer. Going to be participating in one of the world's leading creative writing programs. I interviewed its founder Richard Katrovas.
Why listen to Richard? Having run the Prague Summer Program for Writers for more than two decades, he knows a lot about the process of teaching creative writing; plus he knows karate.
We talk about listening and critiquing artfully, not fucking with style, the formalization of a sense of literary community; counter-culture, the literary conversation, literary communities in different epochs, communal writing, work-shopping, the genius of the English language incorporating other languages, publishing first books, validation, the importance of self-esteem and personal prestige, the desire for social relevance, Ernest Becker; 'who touches a book touches a man,' book fetishes, the weirdness of poetry and Prague, ripping off books, living in the Projects, and much more.
This is part one of the conversation. I'll conduct part two once I've gone through the wringer.
Mark Andrews on Collecting Books about the Science and Engineering of Water
Why did I interview Mark Andrews? Because he's a fellow Canadian, he's an exceptional book collector who brings an engineer's mind to the task, and he's just published a beautiful book featuring selections from his book collection, entitled The Science and Engineering of Water; An illustrated catalogue of books and manuscripts on Italian hydraulics, 1500 - 1800; it's exemplary. Exactly the kind of thing every book collector should think about doing - in some iteration - with his/her/their own collection.
Mark's catalogue explores the development of science and engineering through the early modern period by presenting 367 printed books, manuscripts and maps in chronological order. They highlight the relationship between the evolution of ideas and the authors who documented these ideas. Drawing from Mark's larger collection of civil engineering titles, it's filled with illustrations and diagrams (nearly 1000), from books that were used as working tools by Italian scientists, engineers, and builders from the early 1500s to the end of the 1700s.
Trust me. While books on Italian hydraulics may not sound exactly riveting, they are. At least, they are when Mark talks about them.
Mark Samuels Lasner on book collecting after the dopamine
Why am I interviewing Mark Samuels Lasner for a third time? Because he's a recognized and respected book collector who knows how to speak intelligently and amusingly about books. And though we've already talked about his impressive collections that cover late 19th century British literary culture, and The Bodley Head, I wanted to learn about what happens "after the dopamine" hits. What he's done with his collections - the cataloguing, the scholarship, the exhibitions, the research, the talks - how has he worked with his books to help share their collective lessons, to better understand the worlds and relationships they document? And how can you do the same with your collection?
That's why I interviewed him a third time.
Kat McKenna on how Tik Tok's BookTok sells books
I came across Kat McKenna's name in an article written by Alison Flood in The Guardian last year. I'd googled Tik Tok's "Book-Tok" because I'd heard it was moving a lot of YA books and wanted to learn more. Kat was quoted in Alison's piece. It was clear she knew what made BookTok tick. I contacted her and now she's on the show.
Kat has worked in UK publishing for almost 15 years specialising in children's and teen/YA marketing and brand strategy, and "delivers exciting and audience driven marketing campaigns to most of the major publishers as a freelancer, working on brands including World Book Day, Jacqueline Wilson, Supertato and more." She bills herself as an early innovator of digital and social media in publishing, and today she's still very much on top of what's going on.
She sent me a list of links to various examples of how young people are using Book Tok these days, here:
Books that made me cry: (@justmemyselfandi) Here
They Both Die At the End moodboard (@emmyslibrary): here
Convincing you to read We Were Liars (@alifeofliterature): here
If you like this Harry Styles song, read this book (@sophiebooks): here
Want to work in books? (@hotkeybooks - publisher account!) here
Why do books smell like they do (@hotkeybooks) here
Translations of my book by country (@Caseymcquiston - author) here
Aesthetic of The Inheritance Games (@.bookobsessed) here
A book Tiktok made me read that was not good (@emdobereading - based on a sound trend - we can talk more about those tomorrow!) here
Convincing you to read books based on their first line (@jennajustreads) here
Heartstopper - page to screen love (@rafept) here
So, lots to talk about.
Re: my question about who owns Tik Tok: results are pretty murky. Yes, the Chinese government has a stake in it. How much control it has over operations is open to question. Lots, is what its American competitors would like people to believe. Relatively little it seems if you're a Tik Tok spokesperson. The Guardian again, here.
Stephen Enniss on special collections libraries, value, Martin Amis and Andrew Wylie
Stephen Enniss is director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin. Previous posts include Head Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library and Director of Emory University's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library where he made a series of impressive acquisitions including the archives of Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie and Ted Hughes. Since taking over at the Ransom Center in 2013, Stephen has overseen the acquisition of the archives of Ian McEwan, J.M. Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Michael Ondaatje, among others.
We met via Zoom to discuss his role as director of a special collections library; where Martin Amis is, and Christopher Hitchens, Clive James and other members of their group. About fighting oblivion; about the value and challenges of email archives and negotiating or not negotiating with Andrew Wylie; about Texan "nationalism," and the goals of attracting books and people, and developing a "civilization;" about diversity, and hiring practices and collection development policies; about cataloguing, bureaucracies, acquisitions, books bridging political divides, the Gotham Book Mart, sweet little exhibition catalogues, and much more.
Sarah Miniaci on how to publicize a book in 2022
Sarah Miniaci is a freelance book publicist with fifteen years of experience in the New York and Toronto markets. Ken Whyte's Sutherland House is one of her clients. Ken interviewed Sarah for a recent issue of Shush, his excellent Substack newsletter on the publishing business. Together they surveyed today's new publishing landscape. With the help of Michael Legat's An Author's Guide to Publishing, Sarah and I do the same here, only with our voices, tracing the evolution of book publicity from Legat's pre-2000 traditional publishing world, up to the present.
We talk about the advent of the Internet and blogs, about gatekeepers and democratization, about how easy and boring life used to be for a publicist, about the shift to Social, about the importance of Goodreads, about producing trailers and Q & As for Youtube, about compiling lists, rocket science, passionate bloggers, influencers, the literary conversation, the continued relevance of the publishers' sales catalogue, geese, swans, "golden children," quality, and the imperative to make money, the Last Bookstore in L.A., and Toyota Corollas.
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.