books on the radio

John Rebus Has Not Left the Building: The Ian Rankin Interview


Listen to the interview now by clicking this link right here!


It was a crap morning.  Cold rain and fog.  The roads and sidewalks were slick with leaves and puddles.  Cars haunted side streets at half speed, their drivers wiping at the windows from within, bleary eyes squinting out.

The Complaints HB CS1 rev.inddIt was unequivocal inclemency of the highest order. The natural world’s embodiment of the emotional turmoil at the core of your average Mogwai tune.

It could have been an autumn morning in any bitter and inhospitable city in the world.  Could have been Bogata, Edinburgh, Jakarta or Vladivostok.

As luck would have it the drab and impenetrable city in question was Vancouver and I would have to go out into it if I wanted to get this interview with Ian Rankin.

I’d be lying if I said that the idea didn’t briefly cross my mind.

After the requisite caffeine injections and foggy mutterings I made it to the CJSF station HQ and let myself into the empty confines.  Peace and quiet and warmth.  And time to gather my energies before making the call to Toronto where Mr Rankin was participating in IFOA XXX and their special showcasing of Scottish writers and Canadian writers of Scottish descent.

No problem.  Smooth sailing from here.  Should be.Dark Entries

I got the mixing board all warmed, lit up and functional.  The digital patch connecting the old touch tone phone to the outside world checked out but the computer with the mixing program was locked by a password that I did not have.  It was 730 in the morning and the only numbers that I had were for people who happened to be out of town.

It was grim but eventually I hacked into the machine, made the call to Ian’s hotel room and got the interview up on the rails.

I’d forgotten my notes in the other room during my frenzy to figure out how I was going to crack the password into the computer and now I was improvising wildly to Mr Rankin as we began to talk about the similarities between Scotland and Canada and their shared proximity to proverbial cultural elephants to their geographic south.

From there we talked about James Kelman and boy wizards, Margaret Atwood, the Proclaimers, Mogwai and Jackie Leven, shopping for vinyl records, travelling by train across Canada, return visits to the toy shop on Granville Island, John Rebus, Malcom Fox, reality gameshows broadcast in hell and despairing wives.

An excellent time had by all and topped off by a blistering track from the new Mogwai album, Hawk is Howling.

Many thanks to Ian Rankin and the good people at Orion Books/McArthur Canada and Random House/DC/Vertigo for making it happen.


Evil Book Stack Wishes You a Happy Halloween Weekend!
October 31, 2009, 12:23 PM
Filed under: Enthusiasms, Recommended Books | Tags:

Evil Book StackEvil Book Stack photo by Sean Cranbury.

Evil Book Stack Breakdown (Top to Bottom): Fraktur mon Amour by Judith Salanasky, Daniel O’Thunder by Ian Weir, Twilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ by Friedrich Nietszche, Beast by Various Nefarious Artists, I Shall Destroy all the Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks, From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo D’Allaire, Swedish Death Metal by Daniel Ekeroth, A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov, Glamorama by Brett Easton Ellis, and Cities of the Red Night by William S Burroughs.

Angels in the Angles: Concrete Poetry Exhibit Until Nov 03

Angels in the Angles Banner XListen to the Cranbury vs Calvert Interview by clicking this link right here!

Gallery Atsui, Bachelor Machines, and freshly minted Mechanical Brides proudly present:

An exhibition of Concrete PoetsAngels_23 X


Donato Mancini
Christian Bök
Marina Roy

One of the finest exhibitions of Concrete Poetry in the literary history of the west coast is almost at the end of its run at the Gallery Atsui in Vancouver’s legendary downtown eastside.

The work is on the walls until Tuesday November 3rd and if you’ve even half-thought that you would like to check it out, you’d better get down there and check it out.

It’s a part of this emergent moment in Vancouver literary history.  It’s a budding flower from the mind of curator Steve Calvert.

Steve and I recorded an interview one night a few weeks ago. Listen to it here.

We met at Lucky’s Comics for the release of Marc Bell’s new book Hot Potatoe, by Drawn and Quarterly.  Lucky’s was packed and we spent a little while talking with friends before walking down to the Main Restaurant.  We sat in the back room with a pitcher of beer and talked for an hour and a half.

It’s a really great conversation but be forewarned: It contains some explicit language including my long tangential riff on pataphysics at the end.  A lot of fun.

Angels_12 XSteve will be in the gallery on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5pm so drop by if you can or contact Steve Calvert for inquiries: calvair [at] gmail [dot] com

You won’t regret it, unless of course you don’t see the exhibit in which case you probably will regret it.

Numbered edition of collectors’ prints from each artists will be available for sale, through Gallery Atsui.

For those tempted by the poetic austerity of the quote I have pasted below, may I recommend that you read Steve’s Introduction to the Angels in the Angles.  This is the fantastically imaginative, creatively abstruse, indelibly specific piece of writing that I was referring to during my riff at the end of the interview posted above.

As artists adapt to the growing insecurity of our national institutions, creative communities are presured to galvanize and grow stronger, more independent, industrious, and interdependent, developing means of production and trading networks in cultural and cosmopolitan pockets far and wide. In the absence of federal support, producing autonomously, even anonomously, we work for a future milieu which does not yet exist. Rushing in to fill the vacuum, exchanging ideas with a non-linear, open source, transhistorical temperment, we braid our conceptualizations beyond translation, openly hostile to that trust which has forsaken us… this utopia has been dreamed before.

Angels_05 X

Fraktur mon Amour: Blackletter Resurgence

Fractur Mon Amour Banner

Fraktur mon Amour is an homage to Blackletter fonts.

As anyone who knows me will tell you – and as all of the graphic design on this site proudly demonstrates – I love fonts.  I don’t understand them, I don’t know how people build them or how they relate to each other but I do know that sometimes they’re called typefaces.

To clear up the whole Fonts vs Typeface controversy I have consulted the internet and come away with this distinction: A typeface is a set or family of fonts in the same style while a font is a single kind of typeface, ie Times New Roman.

To me they’re an amazingly art form that’s capable of evoking powerful emotions and ideas.  A good font in the hands of a skilled designer can turn something plain into something profound.

Fractur Mon Amour-7XSome sort of modern Atari Asteroids inspired font called Dotic. By Miguel Hernandez.

Which brings us to this amazing new book from Princeton Architectural Press called Fraktur mon Amour.  The book was originally published in 2006 by German house Verlag Hermann Schmidt.

The visionary concept, text, design and layout for the 720 page book was done by a woman named Judith Schalansky.  It is a deep and sincere expression of her love for Blackletter fonts.

From the back cover: “Blackletter, also known as Fraktur or Gothic type, is currently experiencing s resurgence among graphic designers.  Companies such as Nike and Reebok use it in their advertising, and it decorates posters, album covers, and even the skin in the form of tattoos.”

Fractur Mon Amour-9XA contemporary font, Semper Idem. By Petra Heidorn.

You can see by the photos that Fraktur mon Amour is a thick book.  Well conceived and designed with love.

The contents consist of a long series of facing pages with a showcase of each font on the right hand side and some concrete poetic designs on the left facing page that utilize the showcased font in imaginative ways.

Linking the literal and poetic aspects of the fonts and hopefully inspiring some experimentation among the readers.

All in all an excellent book that also includes a cd featuring a tonne of Fraktur fonts for people to play with and perhaps give their future designs that Gothic feel.

Fractur Mon Amour-5XA textura font, P22 Canterbury.  By Ted Staunton.

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection. Recommended


Recommended Halloween Reading: Seattle-based writer and filmmaker Don Roff and Oakland, California-based illustrator Chris Lane share an abiding taste in the macabre and have produced the extremely cool and well executed – if you’ll pardon the pun – Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection published by their reanimated minions at Chronicle Books.

Zombies 2

The manuscript that makes up this book documents the author’s time spent living among the undead during those first few months of 2012, or as it’s more commonly known, ‘The Year of Infection‘.

It provides important documentation of the various stages of anatomical deterioration for a victim in the pre and post-mortem states and also notes invaluable anecdotal observations of zombies at close range.

Books on the Radio found the insights, observations and scholarly attention to detail in this book to be crucial in our own recent encounters with wraiths, vampyres and a ghoulish graveyard clerk.  Buy Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection now because it’s a great story and as a manual for recognizing the undead and coping with the the upcoming worldwide necrotic infestation it is not to be missed.

Zombies 3

Zombie Cover

Simon and Schuster Test Waters w/ Stephen King eBook Release

Stephen King

UPDATE: This post has been refreshed from its original state.  That’s what I get for taking Publisher’s Weekly at its word.

Anyway, mid-way through this piece I ask readers to suspend their disbelief – difficult to do when reading a post on book publishing, pricing and digital content, I know – and  follow my argument as I use the information from the Publisher’s Weekly column slightly out of context but not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Mark Coker from lends useful insight via this Huffington Post piece. Follow the hashtag #publishersmatter on Twitter.

Please add any comments that you think are helpful.


Interesting piece from Publisher’s Weekly about Simon and Schuster’s decision to delay the release of the eBook version of Stephen King’s massive new novel, Under the Dome.dome

Apparently S&S will be releasing the 1000+ page novel on November 10th and then dropping the ebook on the market on December 24th.  Timing is everything, I guess.

The Publisher’s Weekly piece also notes that the S&S will be charging $35 for the eBook, however some further research conducted at indicates that the ebook will sell for standard Kindle-pricing.

Mr King asks his readers not to “believe the press reports that the e-book reader price for Under the Dome will be $35. This was the result of confusion from a press release from the publisher… It is true that you cannot order the book as an e-download until December 24th, but the physical book, which is a beautiful thing, you can pre-order for less than $9–so who’s better than us?”

So, pricing right?  It’s all up in the air.  Nobody knows what anything is worth whether it’s a brand spankin’ new hardcover or an infinitely replicable digital file.  Are they both worth $9?  Really?  Are publishers seriously asking the public to swallow that crock?

But they’re trapped between the ruthless capitalism of dominant retailers at war with each other and the ruthless efficiency of the digital age.


Let’s say for example that the Great Book Pricing War of 2009 wasn’t happening and skewing this argument beyond proportion and let’s say that S&S thought that $35 for a hard cover was a fair price – which it is – and that $35 for an eBook was also a fair price – which is arguable to say the least.

I float this scenario forward for your consideration because I have heard book publishers say the very same thing – that a digital file should be priced at the same level as the physical product.

To me this notion of equal pricing for physical/digital looks more like a series of test balloons designed to reinforce industry fears than skillful marketing strategies for new books by some of English language’s most beloved authors.

Who gave the final OK on that pricing strategy and where is he/she getting their information?

It’s well documented that the last Harry Potter book – itself a hefty tome – was pirated and disseminated almost immediately upon release (in fact, an in-house perp at Scholastic did the job even before the book hit the shelves) and surely the people at Simon and Schuster are aware that this will happen here, too.  I expect that this book will be seeded widely within 24 hours of officially going on sale.

I have documented the bibliographic zeal that Stephen King’s fans show toward his work online in my presentations on DRM and Free Content.  I expect that a great majority will look at the cost of $35 for the hard cover version as a fair price to pay – and indeed many of the people who use P2P/torrent sites to download and share Stephen King’s books are dedicated enough to purchase the physical copy – and will see the same price for a digital file as incomprehensibly expensive.

This will certainly bear watching.  I have to believe that this is some kind of Big Author Test of Current Market Conditions rather than a strategy that S&S expects to trot out for every new hard cover release.

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol showed us something about this new digital/print landscape and the new Stephen King promises to yield even more data even if it seems that it will come at the expense of common sense.

But one must keep an open mind.  Hopefully this publishing event will show us something new.

Impact of Piracy and P2P on Book Sales: Frankfurt

Impact Of Piracy And Free ( T O C F F)

View more presentations from bfoleary.
Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media has updated the data for his Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales.  He presented this update at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair.
Brian’s research and methods have been very influential on my own work.