Image above: Uliana Dobrova, 2nd from left
In July 2023, another seminar of the Colorado Antiquarian Book School took place. Thanks to my mentor Justin Croft and ILAB, I was fortunate enough to attend it. Upon hearing that I had received a scholarship from the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers to take a course on the fundamentals of the book business at CABS, which will be held in St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota, my husband, the bureau chief of a British newspaper in Tokyo, said to me, "It sounds like a Wes Anderson movie." From that moment on, it was impossible to perceive the situation differently. I must say that much of my experience was quite worthy of being captured on film by the author of "Moonrise Kingdom." Every lecture and every dialogue was infused with incredible energy, as if the scriptwriter had a co-author named Roman Coppola. We, the audience in the hall, and the participants in the process often found ourselves with sincere tears and broad smiles on our faces. And of course, the actors, participants, protagonists, as is typical of Wes, were all perfectly cast superstars of the American book market. So there you have it.
Year of Release: 2023
Genre: I don't know, but it doesn't seem to be a musical
Setting: St. Olaf College, Minnesota
The college campus is situated on a picturesque hill 45 minutes away from Minneapolis - far enough to feel completely isolated. The sky showcases generous American-sized clouds, lightning, and a fantastic pink hue that tints the air in Wes Anderson-esque shades better than any AI filter could. And at sunset, amidst the silhouettes of pseudo-Gothic architecture, magical fireflies sparkle in all directions. Additionally, it's important to consider that this region has historical ties to Scandinavian settlements, so the scene takes on an Ibsen-like quality, with the soundtrack inevitably featuring Grieg or Sibelius.
Lorne Bair, the many-eyed Argus and leader of the book proletariat, as well as a bookseller and poet, opens the first evening feast and never takes his eyes off any of the fifty students for a moment.
Robert Rulon-Miller, the Augur Maximus, generously shares an inspiring story of his own life as a bookseller.
John Thomson tells the tale of the birth of Bartleby’s and reminds of the magic power of bookselling.
Katherine Reagan, the archivist and curator, brings an element of seriousness and professionalism. Her presence convinces us that this isn't just a summer camp, but actually the preservation of heritage, a profession, and for some, even a higher purpose in life.
Lisa Baskin, head of our table, the perfect collector, and the person who perhaps expressed what's closest to me in bookselling: "I didn't care about your first editions."
Rebecca Romney, the author of the most important lecture on the accounting side of the book business, who also has the most beautiful braids
Hélène Golay, the instructor who sets the bar: creating perfect descriptions for 20 books a day (I don't know how she manages it, she must know how to freeze time).
Maria Lin, who possesses secret knowledge on how to persuade her boss to create an online bookstore and a unified database. (I know I'll never grow up to be even a little like you, but I adore every piece of advice you shared.)
Michele Wan, who created the cool kids table by managing the Diverse Voices Fellowship.
Heather O'Donnell, one of the leaders of the silent crusade against the patriarchy in the antique book market, alongside Michele, Rebecca, Lisa, Hélène and Maria. Her lecture on the etiquette and code of bookselling was the main lecture that attracted me to travel from Tokyo to Minnesota.
Garrett Scott, the Scout master in the antique ephemera hunt who trained our noses to find diamonds in a pile of junk.
Amir Naghib, the trainer of a different kind of discerning eye, teaching us how not to sell a P-O-D under the guise of a pilot copy to a beloved customer. Aye-Aye, Captain!
Throughout the week, a group of fifty individuals in the audience learns to believe in themselves, discover their strengths, explore respect and collegiality, delve into the basics of inclusivity and diversity, and experience genuine Shakespearean passions.
All of this is called the antique book market. Yes, these are the perfect ingredients for a new film by Mr. Anderson.
Kathy Lindeman and Jenny for all the work and care
CABS Faculty for being open, honest and glorious
St. Olaf's College for being such a nice place
ILAB for letting me into the book world
And once again, ILAB, for giving me the opportunity to attend CABS
Justin Croft, for believing in me
Philipp Penka, for support and responsiveness
Ryu Sato, for sharing your knowledge and allowing me to go
Pavel Chepyzhov, for introducing me to the antique book world and being a wonderful, tolerant and patient friend
Note from ILAB:
CABS-Minnesota Antiquarian Book Seminar and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) are pleased to offer an annual scholarship for participants in the ILAB Mentoring Programme. The scholarship covers the full CABS-Minnesota tuition fee and accommodation for the one week-long seminar. It further includes a reimbursement of 75% of travel costs, capped at US$1500.
The annual CABS-Minnesota Antiquarian Book Seminar provides an important opportunity for booksellers, at an early point in their career, to learn from experienced booksellers who generously share their expertise and experience and a comprehensive survey of the rare book market. The seminar consists of several days of lectures, workshops, and communication with guest speakers, carefully selected from the bookselling and library community by the CABS board.
Over its long history, the seminar has proven to be an invaluable educational platform from which over 3000 booksellers have enormously benefited from. Enrolment is limited to 50 students per year.
Who can apply and how? Applicants must have been enrolled in the ILAB Mentoring Programme for at least six months. Applicants shall send a motivation letter (no longer than two pages) explaining how they would benefit from attending the seminar. This application should be accompanied by a letter of support from their respective ILAB mentor.
Candidates must reside outside of the USA.
The scholarship was first announced in 2022 and ran a 2nd time in 2023. Applications for 2024 will be announced in due course to mentees enrolled in the Mentoring Programme.