Fonds MsC-100 - New Star Books fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

New Star Books fonds

General material designation

  • Textual records

Parallel title

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Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Series titles are based on those designated by the creator. Where files had existing titles, these titles were maintained. Where there was no title for a file a title was created by the archivist based on the contents of the file; such titles have been placed in square brackets. In cases where the original title needed additional information, the supplemental information has been enclosed in square brackets.

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Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

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Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1971 (Creation)
    New Star Books

Physical description area

Physical description

4.89 m of textual records
118 photographs: b&w prints
5 photographs: b&w negatives
3 photographs: col. negatives
1 photograph: col. slide
135 published volumes

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Administrative history

An informal writing collective was formed in Vancouver in 1969 and eventually grew into the “York Street commune”. They published books first as the Georgia Straight Writing Series and then as the Vancouver Community Press, before political and social trends shifted their editorial focus from literary works more towards titles relating to contemporary affairs and political non-fiction. This new direction was marked with a further name change to New Star Books in 1974.
From 1978 until 1990, publisher Lanny Beckman focused on titles left of the mainstream, serving and marketing mostly to independent or niche bookstores and organizations. The subjects of these titles ranged from criticisms of British Columbia’s Social Credit administration to works on the Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions, feminism, gay rights, communism, and the immigrant experiences of Chinese Canadians and Eastern Europeans. This radical and activist publishing trend continued through the mid-1980’s, at which point the company began to identify a downturn in public interest in such works and saw sales begin to suffer.
Rolf Maurer assumed control of New Star Books in 1990, at which point the focus of titles began to shift once more. The company continues to publish on political and social issues, but has also reincorporated poetry and prose fiction into its repertoire. Some of the authors published by New Star include Stan Persky, Margaret Randall, Anthony Chan, Joel Lexchin, Helen Potrebenko, Rolf Knight, Jack Scott and Chuck Davis.

Custodial history

This collection was purchased from New Star Books by Simon Fraser University in 2007.

Scope and content

Covering the time period of 1971 to 2007, the collection is comprised of records created or received by various staff of New Star Books in their business activities. These activities consisted of: soliciting authors for material or responding to author requests for representation, corresponding with authors throughout the editorial process, designing or contracting layouts for books and communicating instructions to vendors, arranging for printing of materials, promoting book tours and maintaining vendor accounts with various independent bookstores and organizations throughout the world. They also monitored book reviews in publications of the popular press and professional organizations, arranged for marketing of products, coordinated payments or receipt of payments, and periodically issued royalty checks. New Star was often reliant on external funding for the publication of some works, especially in instances where translation services were required to reach certain markets, so applications for grants or donations comprise a portion of each series.
The collection reflects some of the major cultural and political issues affecting Canada, and particularly British Columbia and Vancouver, in the late-1970’s and early-1980’s. These topics ranged from criticisms of British Columbia’s Social Credit administration, to works on the Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions, feminism, gay rights, communism, and the immigrant experiences of Chinese Canadians and Eastern Europeans The collection also offers insight into some of the shifting trend of public interest away from such leftist publications and the choices New Star editors then had to make in choosing marketable content over progressive or provocative literature.
Record types include correspondence, invoices, purchase orders, balance sheets, newspaper clippings, book reviews, financial statements, grant applications, legal transactions or communications, sales figures, book tour schedules, typesetting instructions, style sheets, draft layouts, photographs, and one draft manuscript.
The collection is arranged into the following ten series: Accounts correspondence and invoices (1973–1994); Author correspondence (1977-1997); Book reviews and related records (1976–1999); Business operational files and related records (1971–1999); Editorial correspondence and related records (1973-2001); Sales figures records (1974-1990); Payroll and taxes records (1972-1990); Royalties records and related correspondence (1979-2005); Draft manuscript files [before 1974?]; Invoices, sales registers and related records (1972-2007).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The material was received already separated into distinct categories by the creator, this original order was largely maintained by the archivist. The creator’s method of filing was predominantly, although not consistently, alphabetical to the file level and reverse chronological within the file; this system has been maintained by the archivist.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Many files contain personal or confidential information. Access to these files may be restricted.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

A file list is available in addition to a series-level description.

Finding aid

Associated materials

The 135 published volumes have been catalogued and are available in Special Collection and Rare Books.

Related materials


Further accruals are possible

Alternative identifier(s)

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Description record identifier

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Rules for Archival Description



Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created December 17, 2015. SS
Revised October 14, 2016. JMH
Revised November 28, 2016. JMH

Language of description

Script of description


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