On the Credit River in the energetic little town of Erin, Ontario sits the Porcupine’s Quill, an equally energetic press where Elke and Tim Inkster live and work. These two people, recipients of the Order of Canada on Canada Day 2008, spend long hours typesetting, and printing and binding the books they publish. (An aside here: how does it happen that someone with the name of “Inkster” becomes a publisher who prints books?)
When I visited the Inksters last week with the purpose of checking over my Joyce Wieland: Writings and Drawings 1952-1971, which they are publishing later this year (date not yet set), Tim gave me a tour. I was astounded how tidy the whole establishment is. In my many years as a freelance book editor, I’ve been in and out of publishing houses countless times and I cannot remember any publishing house this tidy. In fact, what I remember is general chaos in many offices. Not Porcupine’s Quill! When I commented on this to Tim and Elke, they told me that when you are small everything must have its place.
Perhaps PQ is small, but its award-winning history is admirable, as is its commitment to careful production of its books. The books are printed on a Heidelberg Press that is nearly forty years old, using only high-grade paper. The Inksters put the books together with sewn bindings - now rarely used in publishing fiction - as opposed to glueing, which is not nearly as durable. They have a 1907 model Smyth national book sewing machine that appears to be in great shape, much older than it looks.
That the proprietors of Porcupine’s Quill publish books because they love them is obvious. So today I write in praise of publishers who love books.
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