Rolf Maurer was born in St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, April 13, 1955. He went to school at St. Andrew's Elementary and Vancouver College, later earning a BA (English) from UBC. He was Ubyssey co-editor from 1976-77. Early employment included being an office gofer for Jack Wasserman in summer 1975. He followed this as a cub reporter and copy editor for The Province including  acquiring such stories as the Great Lockout of 1979. Later, he was assistant editor of the BC Teachers Federation Newsletter, 1980-81. He spent a month in China, June 1981 and then began working for New Star Books as an editor / typesetter / &c. / increasingly &c., &c. from September 1981-- 1989. He has been the owner/operator from 1990 -- present.

As the publisher of New Star Books, Rolf Maurer received the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award in British Columbia, in 2011. Here are the introductory remarks given on the occasion by author and publisher Howard White:

"It gives me the greatest pleasure to introduce this year's winner of the Jim Douglas Award for Publisher of the Year in British Columbia: New Star Books and Rolf Maurer.

New Star is actually one of our senior publishers, having started 41 years ago. From the beginning it was a different kind of press. Its first publications came as free inserts in the Georgia Straight. Quite a lineup they had too: Jack Spicer, Milton Acorn, Robin Blaser, George Stanley, Stan Persky, Gladys Hindmarch, Dan McLeod. Dan was a poet before he was a tabloid tycoon and a very good one, very cerebral and complex. I remember seeing those pullouts with their unreadable psychedelic designs all over the city like Canadian Tire flyers. It was probably the best showing poetry ever had in this town. At that time New Star wasn't New Star yet, it was just called the Georgia Straight Writing Supplement. Of course littering the sidewalks with poetry wasn't sustainable and following one of many putches at the Straight the literary supplement crew departed to form an urban commune in a big old house in Kitsilano which became known as the York Street Commune. Everybody ate, edited and slept together. This is a corporate model you won't learn about at the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. By the mid 1970s the early dedication to highbrow literary art was replaced by an equally fervent devotion to down 'n' dirty radical politics, which is when the New Star name appeared. Stan Persky was one of the figures who had been pivotal with the project since the beginning. He still is a strong supporter. What a record he has. But he kept more to the writing side and left the publishing to a brilliant but reclusive man named Lanny Beckman, who was seldom seen in the light of day and in fact I've never laid eyes on to this day.

But when it came to books, he was all for maximum exposure and during his tenure New Star became known for very topical (and critical) books about current affairs that were printed in mass-market format and distributed on newsstands in great numbers. There was Son of Socred by Persky, Bennett II-The Decline and Stumbling of the Social Credit in BC also by Persky; Restraining the Economy: Social Credit Economic Policies for BC in the Eighties; Pattison: Portrait of a Corporate Superstar; The Solidarity Sourcebook; After Bennett: A New Politics for BC; School Wars: The Assault on BC Education in 1985-that's how long that one's been going on.

These were some of the most necessary BC books of the time that now stand as an unmatched historical testament to BC life of those times. But New Star was not solely focused on BC. They also published Sandino's Daughters an Poor Women Speak Out by Margaret Randall; At the Lenin Shipyard: Poland and the Rise of the Solidarity Trade Union and America, God and the Bomb: The Legacy of Ronald Reagan-anybody who thinks Reagan was a great president ought to read that-And The Supreme Court Decision on Abortion. And many more-an astonishing body of work in retrospect whose influence was probably much greater than we even realized at the time. Certainly Noam Chomsky thought so, or he would not have given three of his books to New Star to publish. It tells you something that Chomsky, who could publish anywhere, would choose New Star.

Rolf Maurer started showing up at ABPBC meetings in the early 1980s. He looked about 15 years old and in fact he continued to look about 15 for the next 15 years or so, I didn't notice when he started looking grown up, let alone when he started being an elder--I think it was when he got that pork-pie hat. I still have the hardest time not thinking him as that brash outspoken kid Lanny sends out to give us a hard time. He seemed to be born fully armed with a full set of unshakeable conclusions about just about everything, and sometimes he was even right. He got more right as years went by, or at least we came to agree with him more. But the thing about Rolf, agree or disagree with what you were doing, from the very beginning he chose to be involved. He came to every meeting and volunteered for every committee. When it came to the idea of service to the book community, he walked the walk. He still does today. He has earned this award for that alone.

But he also published books. As Lanny Beckman withdrew deeper into his own world, Rolf became the face of New Star and in 1990 he became its official publisher and majority owner. And he kept doing great books. Working Harder Isn't Working. Gold Mountain: Chinese in the New World. Fantasy Government: The Fall of Bill Vander Zalm and the Future of Social Credit. This Ragged Place by Terry Glavin--always liked the title of that one. Caring for Profit: How Corporations are Taking over Canada's Health Care. Crossing the Line: Canada and Free Trade with Mexico by Jim Sinclair. Highwire Act: Power, Pragmatism and the Harcourt Legacy. The innovative Transmontanus serries edited by Terry Glavin. Free Trade and the New Right Agenda. Last Stands: A Journey through North America's Vanishing Rainforests. Pacific Press: The Unauthorized Story of Vancouver's Newspaper Monopoly and Asper Nation: Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company--the only book by the only publisher who had the guts to talk about the elephant in the room that was our converging media. And increasingly under Rolf, a return to the quality literary titles by such writers as George Bowering, Roy Miki, John Harris, Luanne Armstrong, George Stanley, Marie Baker and others.

Hundreds of fearless, important books that took everyday issues and everyday people seriously and have helped shape the political climate of our times, books of the sort nobody else did then and almost nobody at all does today--for a lot of reasons that I hope some thoughtful young Persky disciple will explore and publish a book about one of these days. And I hope there is still a New Star Books or it might not matter that it was written, because there will be nobody with the community spirit and expertise to make that crucial linkage between the private world of the writer and the public world of readers that is and always will be the special province of publishers.

I am fully aware of the irony and also the importance of making this award in a year when New Star, whose great contributions have never been properly appreciated by our funding agencies, has had its operating grant brutally cut by the BC Arts Council. Rolf has been forced to let his one remaining employee go and is once again reduced to working single-handedly to get out a list of a dozen new books. All BC publishers are facing daunting challenges these days, but that is ridiculous. But if there is one quality of Rolf's you can really count on, it is tenacity and I know he will stay true to his purpose, gear down, and power through to many more years of outstanding books."

[BCBW 2011]