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The School of Sophisticated Drinking (Greystone, 2015)

Reading the Alcuin Winners: The School of Sophisticated Drinking

This post is the first in an occasional series that takes a deeper look at some of our Alcuin book design award winners. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I’ve come to depend on the Alcuin awards list as a dependable source of good books to read over the year.

Continue Reading…


Robert Chaplin’s launch of “TEENY TED FROM TURNiP TOWN”

Well, it’s official. The world’s smallest book is almost here (large print edition!)

Robert Chaplin’s Kickstarter publishing endeavour to see TEENY TED FROM TURNiP TOWN published in a human-friendly-scale book is about to launch next Tuesday!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 
18:00 until 22:00
Smash Gallery in East Vancouver

580 Clark Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia V5L 3H7

From the Facebook event page:

If you don’t know Robert Chaplin personally, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of him over the last few months. Chaplin is the creative mastermind behind the Guinness Book of Records World’s Smallest book, TEENY TED FROM TURNIP TOWN and a few months ago he took to Kickstarter to make his dream of creating a large print edition of the world’s smallest book.

Well…it worked and now, just in time for Christmas,

“TEENY TED FROM TURNiP TOWN” is OUT and we are gonna Party!

Originally carved into a microchip and requiring Simon Fraser University’s scanning electrograph microscope to read it, “TEENY TED” was ?truly once so teeny-tiny, the entire book was no bigger than a strand of the hair on your head.

Robert is a long time Alcuin member, and he’s got lots of other wonderful feathers in his cap, with book titles like DELiCiOUS CHiCKEN SOUP, TeN CoUNTiNG CaT, The elephant Book and BRUSSELS SPROUTS & UNiCORNS! For more on Robert’s work, see this post over at


SFU Lecture: The Printing Room @ St. Michael’s College

We’ve received word from SFU of an upcoming lecture that will surely be of interest to print historians and bibliophiles alike! Jonathan Bengtson will be giving a presentation at SFU Burnaby campus on the the Printing Room at St. Michael’s College. Here is a PDF advertising the event, and below are all the details you need to know. To whet your appetite, I highly recommend that you download the background reading material from

The Printing Room: The John M. Kelley Library
. University of Toronto: 2009

Please RSVP for the event as requested below. We hope to see you there!

Friday, October 26, 2012
4:30pm to 6:00pm
Room 2020 – Thesis Defence Room
W.A.C. Bennett Library
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC

Jonathan Bengtson has served as University Librarian at the University of Victoria since January 2012. Prior to his appointment at Victoria, he served as director of library and archives at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, as well as the library director for the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies (PIMS), one of the most important libraries for medievalists in North America.

He trained as a medievalist at Oxford and has been director of academic and special libraries in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Before arriving at the University of Toronto in 2004, Bengtson was head librarian of The Queen’s College, Oxford, and, afterwards, the executive director of the Providence Athenaeum in Providence, Rhode Island.

While at St. Michael’s, Bengtson played a key role in the establishment of the St. Michael’s Print Room. The Room features five hand-presses, including the 1895 Reliance press that is in the foyer of the library; it has binding equipment; an extensive collection of type, including ornaments from the Toronto firm of Cooper and Beatty, woodcuts and wood type; and pedagogical material, including unusual books as well as documents in Braille. The Room has played a critical role in supporting the teaching of book history and material bibliography. Bengtson’s lecture will speak to issues related to the creation of the Print Room and its impact on teaching and learning.

Refreshments following lecture.
Free Admission – limited seating – please reserve a seat by calling 778.782.6704 or emailing library at
For further information contact:
Chuck Eckman, Dean, Library Services
Tel: 778.782.3265


An evening with Stephen Marche, Monday, October 1st

The Alcuin Society is pleased to announce an evening with Toronto writer Stephen Marche, author of Love and the Mess We’re In, a new novel published by Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau Press. Gaspereau recently blogged about this new title here.

The innovative design of this book is by designer Andrew Steeves, winner of numerous Alcuin awards for his work.

The two have worked closely together on this project, and its unusual typographic elements have produced a beautiful and unusual book.

For more information, please see the poster on web site:

Place: Alma Van Dusen Room, Lower Level, Central Library, VPL

Date: Monday, October 1st, 2012

Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Seating is limited; admission is free

This event has been co-sponsored by Vancouver Public Library.

The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca

Via the Jewish Book Festival, taking place at 950 West 41st Avenue in Vancouver, BC, we have a special book launch and reception that friends of the Alcuin Society won’t want to miss:

The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca
Lilian Broca, Sheila Campbell, Linda Coe, Yosef Wosk
Sunday, November 27, 2011 – 8:00pm

“Seven years in the making, The Queen Esther Mosaics contribute to the vital historic task of what the biblical scholar Naomi Graetz called for in S/He Created Them: Feminist Retelling of Biblical Tales: ‘. . . to put women voices back where they should have been in the first place.’” – Judy Chicago

Lavishly illustrated, The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics captures the shimmering brilliance of artist Lilian Broca’s monumental Queen Esther Mosaic Series. Created in classical Byzantine style but with contemporary sensibility, Broca’s mosaics give life to the complex personality of Esther who rose from shy obscurity to become her people’s savior.

Archaeologist, art historian, and curator Sheila Campbell has published widely on ancient and contemporary mosaics and Byzantine art. A Professor Emerita at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, she has curated many exhibitions, including a showcase of the Scuola di Mosaici (Friuli, Italy) at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Linda Coe (book designer) A graduate of the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University), Coe has worked as a professional graphic designer for over thirty years and has taught design courses at Emily Carr University, the University of British Columbia, and at various workshops. She is a former President, a longtime Charter member, and a Fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, BC Chapter.

Scholar, rabbi and SFU professor, Yosef Wosk, took inspiration from Broca’s mosaics to create a lyrical prose-poem in the voice of Esther, so striking and unique the work must be read for itself to be fully appreciated. The prose is accompanied by scholarly notes illuminating Wosk’s extensive investigation of biblical, rabbinical, comparative religious, and mythological aspects of the Esther story.

On the same Sunday, Karen X. Tulchinksy, Revital Shiri-Horowitz, Joel Bakan, and even Curious George!

Curious George – children’s event and art exhibit
Sun, Nov 27 – 2:00pm
at The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

For children ages 3-6, parental supervision required.

All kids love the stories of Curious George and his mischievous antics. So bring them for an afternoon of literary fun – Curious George-style! This special event includes story-telling, a reading from Curious George Rides a Bike, a musical singalong and a chance for parents to view a unique exhibit (open from 1-4pm) – The Wartime Escape – Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey From France. This exhibit, in Vancouver for just six weeks, recounts the story of Curious George creators, Margret and H.A. Rey, who escaped from Nazi-occupied France.

To reserve a spot for your child please call the VHEC (604) 264-0499 or email

For more events from the Jewish Book Festival in Vancouver, visit their website.

Gaspereau in the Limelight

Great to see all the press Gaspereau is getting with the Giller Prize shortlist nomination of Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists.

Take a closer look at yesterday’s behind the scenes photos in the Globe and Mail:

All eyes will be on the Giller November 9th just before 7pm Pacific Time, when the winner of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced. Best wishes to Gaspereau!

Fine Printing and the Imagination: another upcoming lecture by Peter Koch

The University of British Columbia Library and The Alcuin Society are pleased to announce an upcoming lecture entitled, “Fine Printing and the Imagination”. The speaker is Peter Rutledge Koch, artist, printer, writer, and publisher of fine editions and artist books. He will describe and discuss his major work.

Currently living in Berkeley, California, Mr. Koch’s work – including over 100 books, and hundreds of broadsides and prints — is internationally known. His lengthy essay about the making of the Editions Koch Parmenides appears in Carving the Elements: A companion to The Fragments of Parmenides edited by the Canadian poet and essayist Robert Bringhurst. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at The New York Public Library, The San Francisco Public Library, The Widener Library at Harvard University, The Yellowstone Art Museum, and The University of Montana Art Museum.

More recently Mr. Koch has been artist-in-residence at the Scuola Grafica di Venezia in Venice, Italy. In 2005 he co-founded The CODEX Foundation to preserve and promote the arts of the book and is the director of the Biennial CODEX International Book Fair, Symposium, and publishing program. In addition to his creative and collaborative ventures he has taught “The Hand Made Book In Its Historical Context” at the University of California Berkeley in the departments of Visual Studies, History, and at Bancroft Library Press for the past 16 years.

Place: University of British Columbia
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
The Dodson Room
Vancouver, BC
Friday, March 26th, 2010
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public.

Printing in the Shadow of Aldus: a lecture by Peter Koch

The Alcuin Society is pleased to announce an upcoming lecture entitled, “Printing in the Shadow of Aldus”. This illustrated talk will explore Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark: A Memoir of Venice, with photographs by Robert Morgan. The book is a series of essays in memoir form, by the poet and Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. The speaker is Peter Rutledge Koch, artist, printer, writer, and publisher of fine editions and artist books, including Watermark. Mr. Koch will be introduced by Robert Bringhurst.

Mr. Koch will show slides and talk about the grand adventure of printing Watermark in Venice in collaboration with an international cast of distinguished printers, artists, and artisans, including British Columbia’s own Crispin Elsted. Mr. Koch will be in Vancouver as one of the judges of the Alcuin Society 2009 Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada competition, taking place on March 27th, 2010.

Place: Simon Fraser University Downtown Campus, Harbour Centre
Fletcher Challenge Room
Vancouver, BC
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public.

Word on the Street, September 27, 2009

2009 Word on the Street poster designed by Charles PachterOne of the best book events of the year is coming to a city near you! The annual Word on the Street festival, held on Sunday, September 27th, is Canada’s National Book and Magazine Festival. WOTS officially happens in 4 cities across Canada; Vancouver, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax. Last year, in the four cities combined, more than 275,000 visitors attended 408 programs featuring 471 authors, workshop presenters and arts performers.

The Alcuin Society will have a table display located indoors this year, on the main floor lobby of Library Square. We’re having a combined table of book design award winners and general Alcuin material/publications. The WOTS festival is a must see event for book lovers of all ages, and this year there will be some added entertainment from the Vancouver Global ComedyFest. From the WOTS website:

Special News: We’re teaming up with the Vancouver Global ComedyFest on our Mainstage to present an exciting and entertaining roster of comedy skits and musical performances.

Click here to see what’s on the agenda in Vancouver for September 27.

On a related note, coming up next month, the Vancouver International Writers Festival takes place on Granville Island from October 18-25. And don’t forget the Alcuin’s very own Wayzgoose festival at Library Square on October 24! It’s beginning to look like Fall is the Season of Books in this town!

Alcuin Society’s 26th Annual Book Design Awards

The Awards Ceremony for the winners of the Alcuin Society 2007 Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada will be held this year at Emily Carr University. The awards will be presented by Bonne Zabolotney, Emily Carr University’s Associate Dean, Design. The keynote speaker will be CS Richardson.

Designer and author CS Richardson is Creative Director for Random House of Canada. Over a twenty-five year career, he has designed books for numerous notable authors, including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Wayson Choy, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, and John Irving. He is a multiple winner of the Alcuin Award and has received CBA Libris, Applied Arts, and Advertising & Design Club of Canada awards. Richardson is also an acclaimed novelist. His first book, The End of the Alphabet, is an international bestseller, and winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book.

Robert Bringhurst will also give a short, informal talk about his new book, The Surface of Meaning : 25 Years of Book Design in Canada (CCSP Press).

Robert Bringhurst, both a former Alcuin competition judge and design award-winner, is a poet, linguist and typographer. His book, The Elements of Typographic Style (now in its third edition) has been translated into ten languages. His most recent books are The Tree of Meaning (2006) and its companion volume, Everywhere Being is Dancing (2007); and New World Suite No. 3 (2007).

EMILY CARR UNIVERSITY – SB301 (South Building)


The award-winning books will be on display. For a complete list of the books, and more information about The Alcuin Society and its book design competition, see:

During the day, two free book design-related workshops will be held at the University, with a limited number of admissions; pre-registration will be required. Details will be announced shortly on the Alcuin Society’s website.

The Alcuin Society is a Vancouver based non-profit society for the support and appreciation of books. In addition to the annual Book Design Competition, the Society publishes a quarterly journal, Amphora, and organizes workshops, lectures, and exhibitions on various aspects of the book.