Episode 106: Joe Biel (Microcosm Publishing)
Several years ago, I began to notice a pattern emerging. Practically every book of interest I'd pick up at independent bookstores and zine fest had the same logo on the back: a small bicycle gear with a heart at the center. Microcosm had seemingly come out of nowhere to corner the market on things that fascinate me. Joe Biel formed the indie publishing empire out of his Cleveland bedroom in the mid-90s, moving Microcosm to greener Pacific Northwestern pastures of Portland, Oregon in 1999, where the company still remains, along with with a retail storefront baring the same name. After a year and a half of attempting to coordinate an interview, Biel and I finally found ourselves in the same place. He was kindly enough to make a detour to my Queens apartment during a brief stopover in New York following an appearance at bicycle policy convention in Colombia. It's a subject matter than has long been near and dear to the publisher, recently manifesting itself in the form of Aftermass, a documentary exploring Portland's cycling community. Biel and I sat down over a couple of cups of tea to discuss cycling, his filmmaking and the strange and fascinating world of independent publishing.