MINUTES ILAB GENERAL ASSEMBLY EDINBURGH
17th September 2000
Queen Mother Conference Centre, Royal College of Physicians.
Present were :- Alain Nicolas (ILAB President), Georg Schreyer (Vice-president), Poul Poulsen (Treasurer) Keith Fletcher (Acting Secretary), Walter Alicke, Kay Craddock and Arnoud Gerits (Committee Members) Anthony Rota and John Lawson (Presidents of Honour) together with the following National Presidents :- Andre Swertz (Netherlands), Eric Speekaert (Belgium), Emmanuel Lhermitte (France), Manuel Ripoll (Spain), Nick Dawes (Australia & New Zealand), Steven Temple (Vice-President, Canada), Petr Meissner (Czech Republic), Francesco Chellini (Italy) Ulrich Hobbeling (Germany), Norbert Donhofer (Vice-president, Austria), Timur Yüksel (Switzerland), Johan Redin (Sweden, with a proxy for Finland), Anders Guldhaug (Norway), Noriaki Abe (Japan), Elizabeth Strong (Great Britain), Tom Congalton (USA, with a proxy for Brazil) and Poul Poulsen (Denmark- as well as ILAB Treasurer) and approximately 70 delegates.
1. Nomination of scrutineers, apologies for absence, voting rights. Apologies for absence were received from :- Hans Dieter Paulusch (Austria), Michael Thompson (Canada), Ana Maria Bocayuva de Miranda Jordao (Brazil), Presidents of Honour Dr. Frieder Kocher-Benzing, Anton Gerits, and Bob de Graaf (suffering from a broken leg), and Member of Honour Mitsuo Nitta.
Helen Kahn (Canada) and Paul Feain (Australia) were nominated as scrutineers.
There were 17 presidents present; 4 of them (GB, F, D, USA), with 2 votes each, and 2 proxies, making a total of 23 votes.
The President asked for a minutes silence to be observed in memory of those recently departed colleagues who worked hard for the benefit of the League or were well-known in the trade, namely Georges Denys of Belgium, a former President of Honour whose obituary would be appearing in the next newsletter, Olga Israel of Amsterdam and Gunter Leisten of Köln.
2. The President then presented the following report :- “I would like now to give you a brief résumé of the work that I and my committee have undertaken on behalf of the League. Each president should have received a regular flow of information to keep them informed of our acrtivities. Between October 1998 and August 2000 I have issued eleven official “Letters to Presidents”. They have also received, with my agreement, other letters from our secretary concerning the minutes of our meetings; from our treasurer concerning money; and from Arnoud Gerits concerning the Internet. I trust that your presidents have been passing on all this information to you. In addition you have all be kept informed of our activities during this period by two issues of our Newsletter. We have issued a new Directory which incorporates all your observations and corrections. It now has a list of names at the end of the volume which makes it more practical. It was published at a very reasonable price, and I wish to thank Georg Schreyer for all his hard work in this respect. We have been kept busy with all the usual tasks of an ILAB committee: the Bibliographical Prize, the Rules, Customs and Usages to be improved, and the problems of export within Europe. These problems remain very difficult to deal with because of all the different national laws and because the authorities do not seem willing to change anything. And so to the subject that has been exercising us all for many months past. “ILAB and the Internet”. With the help of our Internet Committee we worked alot to present to you the Internet project that the presidents had asked for last year in Florence. I used to think that the main job of the President of ILAB was to deal with the serious questions of bookselling: I now know that the President must become an expert on the internet whether or not he or she wants that job. This subject has certainly become the most discussed development among booksellers. ILAB’s internet presencehas grown from dreams and hopes expressed by the presidents in Florence last year into a very real site this year. Our presidents made the committee understand in Florence that they wanted a very good internet web site but did not want to spend large amounts of money to accomplish this goal. Of course we listened, but we knew this would be a difficult task. Sothebys had spent $40 million on their site: We were asked to match it for $15 thousand. The official site was turned on in the Spring and has important features such as searchability for dealers, discussion groups for members and officers and well-written text describing the ethics and guidelines of ILAB. The Internet Committee also asked Rockingstone, our new Dutch web development firm, to add a search engine for books on a trial basis that would be evaluated at our Edinburgh Congress. This Central database for ILAB booksellers already contains over 300,000 books held by 77 dealers. The ABAA, our American colleagues, we so impressed with the technical expertise of Rockingstone that they have recently asked him to be their web development person and to place his search engine at the ABAA web site. Our agreement with Rockingstone allows us the potential of the sophistication of a Sotheby site but at a cost which is very low. We will get free maintenance and improvements for our ILAB web site as long as Rockingstone can charge our members the very small amount of $35 per month, and that charge will only be for those ILAB members who wish to have their books in the ILAB search engine. The property of ILAB is well protected by a very good legal agreement that Dutch lawyers have developed for us and that has been signed by Rockingstone. The response by Rockingstone to the wishes of the ILAB Internet Committee has been very positive and thoughtful. This 15-member firm has members that speak five languages; has an owner who was a bookseller for many years before forming his computer company, and has the experience of being the web master for our colleagues in the Dutch association. There is no doubt that we are getting the maximum possible for our money.
This quickly developing site has raised many important questions about how ILAB works. Should ILAB have a strong central presence complimenting and enhancing the work done in each country? Does ILAB have the rules and regulations in place to make sure that all consumers are protected when dealing with ILAB members? Does ILAB have the personnel and money to act as the main spokesman for antiquarian bookselling? Various proposals relating to these subjects have been introduced by different countries and are on the agenda for discussion in Edinburgh. However, anyone familiar with bookselling on the internet realizes that the internet operates at lightning speed and will not wait for us to take years to make decisions.
And where might the internet be going to lead us? Rockinhstone has been sharing his vision with the ILAB Internet Committee of virtual bookfairs, real-time bookselling with customers ordering on-line with instant credit-card approvals, and ways to use the ILAB web site to educate the public. The internet gives ILAB the chance to tell the very important story of who we are; that we have among us the most important booksellers in the world with the best books in the world, and that we are the only group who actually enforces ethical standards when dealing with the public. There are millions of people exploring the internet, from the tip of South America to the northlands of Russia. If we can share our enthusiasm for rare books with them we will find and educate an entire new group of book collectors. My opinion is that it is now time for ILAB to take a leadership role. We will need to study our bylaws and make them more suitable for an organization that needs to be able to react quickly to changing times. However, we cannot stop our internet development while we look at our bylaws; the book-buying world would pass us by. The book-buying public wants, and is used to having, a very simple experience when it comes to buying books. This means they must have one centralized search engine with secure credit-card ordering and consumer protection behind the books they buy. Individual associations can still be as important as they wish to be by developing their own web sites and making them look and feel as unique as they wish. A centralized site and strong individual country sites will constantly generate business and goodwill for each other. Since the last General Assembly the committee has met on four occasions - once in Paris where we enjoyed the hospitality of SLAM. once in Cabourg, and twice just before Presidents’ Meetings, rthe first in Florence, and now here in Edinbough. I have received constant help from the member of the Committee and I now wish to offer my sincere thanks to Georg Schreyer, our Vice-President, for his work on the Directory, to Poul-Jan Poulsen, our Treasurer, for his impeccable financial work, to Rob Rulon-Miller, our Secretary, and to the four committee members, Walter Alicke, Kay Craddock, Keith Fletcher and Arnoud Gerits for their valuable support and advice. I also wish to thank all of you for making the effort to come to this meeting, some of you from almost half way round the world. You have demonstrated your interest in the health of our League and the active support that you are willing to give it. Thank you all.
This concludes my report, and a there are no questions I would ask you to approve it by the usual show of hands. Approved unanimously
3. Treasurer's Report. Poul Poulsen presented his report, a copy of which is appended to these minutes. There were no questions, and this report was approved unanimously.
4. Secretary's Report. The Secretary, Rob Rulon-Miller, was not present and no report was made.
5. ILAB Newsletter. The Editor, Rob Rulon-Miller was not present and no report was made.
6. ILAB Directory. The directory will be published on the Internet, but will also continue to be published in hard copy. It is envisaged that the internet will facilitate the production of future hard copy editions and probably lower their cost. There are still a few copies of the current edition available from Scott Brinded. Application may be made to Keith Fletcher.
7. Rules and Usages. A lot of work had been done recently and it was hoped to publish a new edition very soon.
8. Bibliographical Prize. The president stressed the importance of this prize as a means of publicising the League. It was, however, suffering from a lack of funds and a way would have to be found to build them up again. All suggestions would be welcome.
9. Election of Committee As there were no contested places the new committee was proposed en bloc and approved unanimously. Kay Craddock, in her acceptance speech, pledged herself and the new committee to enormous amounts of hard work in the interests of the League. After presenting the outgoing president Alain Nicolas with his Past President's badge, she extended to him the traditional invitation to continue as chairman for the remainder of the meeting.
10. Internet. Alain Nicolas announced that both the new ILAB/LILA web site and the trial search engine provided by Rockingstone and demonstrated by Mr. Jelle Samshuijsen to the Presidents' Meeting had been approved by the presidents on a vote of 21 votes in favour and 2 votes against. Emmanuel Lhermitte (President of SLAM) thanked, on behalf of all the presidents, the Internet Committee for all their hard work in achieving such a magnificent result.
11. Future Conresses and Presidents' Meetings. The following were announced :- A Presidents' Meeting in Boston 6-9 October 2001 (to co-incide with Boston Book Fair) 36th. ILAB Congress and Book Fair in Scandinavia. 6-13 September 2002 A Presidents' Meeting in Germany in 2003 37th. ILAB Congress and Book Fair in Melbourne October 2004
12. Any other business. Paul Minet (GB) asked "What happened to Proposal B?" (as set out on the verso of the Agenda for the Presidents' Meeting). It was explained that it had been agreed to 'leave it on the table', but that the new committee would be working on this. There were no further question and the meeting was closed.
Kay Craddock, President