Biblioasis launching Field Notes, a new series of ‘short take’ books that will respond to current events


Windsor, Ont.-based publisher Biblioasis is launching a new series of books designed to be responsive to current affairs and issues impacting our world.

The series is called Field Notes and will respond to timely topics we see in the news, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests against anti-Black racism. It was conceived by Biblioasis founder and publisher Dan Wells.

“With COVID and with the pandemic and with everything else that has happened in the world, we were trying to figure out a way to be both responsive and responsible,” Wells said in an interview with CBC Books.

Fifteen years ago, Windsor, Ontario’s Dan Wells took a flyer and started a bookstore and publishing house called Biblioasis. It became one of North America’s most successful small presses in terms of sales, awards and critical success. Michael did an upbeat interview with Wells in early March. But it was quite a different story this week when he had a followup conversation with Wells, whose business has been completely sideswiped by the pandemic. 23:49

“These books are short takes from the ground, from the field, about issues that we are all trying to grapple with.”

The books will be shorter in length, all less than 200 pages. The series is inspired by the political pamphlets that were popular in the 18th century.

The first four titles have already been announced, and they will be published one a month until January 2021. Biblioasis also has a few more titles in development, according to Wells.

The series will launch in October 2020 with On Risk by philosopher and University of Toronto professor Mark Kingwell. On Risk will explore the concept of risk and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how we assess risk.

The second title will be On Decline by public policy expert and Max Bell School of Public Policy associate professor Andrew Potter. It will explore how the power and influence of Western civilizations and culture has declined in recent years and will be published in November 2020.

On Killing a Revolution by journalist Andray Domise will be the third title in the series, expected in December 2020. On Killing a Revolution looks at how protests against anti-Black racism began as grassroots movements and became taken up by corporations as they grew in size and influence.

The fourth title, On Property by Rinaldo Walcott, director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, explores how the criminal code prioritizes things and property over people, and how that must shift if we are to defund and restructure the police. It will be published in January 2021.

On Property was inspired by a comment Walcott made during an interview on CBC Radio’s The Current.

“Matt [Galloway] brought him on to talk about the Black Lives Matter protests. At the end of the show, he said, ‘this will not happen until we evaluate our relationship to private property,'” Wells recalled.

Some police and politicians are taking a knee amidst anti-racism protests around the U.S. and Canada. University of Toronto Black diaspora professor Rinaldo Walcott explains how the gesture can be dangerous, and why it dilutes the movement against police violence. 6:41

“He didn’t get to expand on that because it was the end of the interview, so I asked him. And that conversation led to On Property.”

While the four announced titles are all authored by men, Wells says titles by women are in the works, and he expects the series to have gender parity when it comes to authorship.

Wells told CBC Books he is currently open to accepting pitches, queries and submissions for the Field Notes series.

“Our hope is that we respond to the world as it’s thrown at us.”

Read more at CBC.ca