RESUMÉ OF THE CONFERENCE
HELD AT GENEVA, JULY 21-24, 1952
1. Appointment of Scrutineers of voting.
2. Annual Report of the Committee
3. Treasurer's Report and Balance Sheet
4. Report by Honorary auditors on the accounts
5. Appointment of Honorary auditors for coming year
6. Subscriptions for 1953.
7. Employment of paid secretariat by President
8. Committee Procedure. Proposed new rule.
9. Publication of Conference Minutes
10. Authority of decisions made by General Assembly
12. Dictionary. Report by the Editor.
13. Table of Usages and Customs
14. Report on the Committee of Honour.
15. Report on Children's Holidays.
17. Confidential Lists
20. International Trade Passport.
21. Proposal of Finland to make Conferences biennial instead of annual.
22. Proposals of France:
a) To consider the conditions attaching to public auction sales
b) The principle of moral and pecuniary support by the League in favor of any associations entailed in legal action connected with the general interests of the trade.
23. Proposals of Great Britain
a) Credit terms for booksellers purchasing abroad
b) that the meetings of the Committee be held in different countries, and that the host country on each occasion should call an Extraordinary Meeting of its Association.
24. Proposals of USA
a) On descriptions of books by European dealers
b) Lack of proper packing of shipments
25. Date and venue of next Conference.
26. Proposal that visitors to Conference should be expected to contribute to the expenses of the festivities.
27. Retirement of 3 members of the Committee at the end of their terms of office.
28. Election of President
29. Election of Vice-President.
30 Other business
a) Report on relations with UNESCO
b) Export-Import regulations
d) German proposal on apprentices
Although the Minutes of the fifth Conference of the ILAB omit nothing, they nevertheless do not convey the essence of it. Clear and to the point though they may be, they do not convey to the reader the reality of what those four days have been for the two hundred delegates from thirteen different countries who attended in the beautiful city of Geneva.
In one word the atmosphere and the spirit of this Conference are absent from these brief minutes.
It seems to me just and necessary that the character, the physiognomy, the profound and significant quality of our work and our play should be evoked.
The Report of the Committee comprised no less than ten foolscap pages: that is enough to indicate the importance of the work undertaken during the year. Thirty questions were on the Agenda: all of them were discussed and resolved in the course of six plenary sessions; there is no need to add that the accomplishment of such a task in such a short time was due to the conduct of the discussions. Tribute for this must be rendered first to tact and resolution in the Chair, but also to all the delegates who brought to the study and the solution of questions often complex and delicate a truly remarkable spirit of comprehension and of co-operation. Such results are possible in the midst of an international assembly only by clear and calm perception, and in an exalted spirit of true community and fraternity. In Geneva every member present felt himself part of the one great family that constitutes the antiquarian book trade and the ILAB. During the four days of this conference it became remarkably clear to each and all of us that the ILAB has developed a self-consciousness of its own, that it has acquired an entity.
And this is not only a great and a fertile thing, full of promise, but this international brotherliness has produced for us many hours of exquisite charm and amusement.
Throughout the farewell evening (the memory of which abides as one of the most perfect examples of Swiss hospitality) this happy spirit prevailed so that we seemed to be celebrating a family occasion. The formal offers of thanks were informed by a cordial and happy tone of abandonment; exactly reminiscent of after-dinner speeches at gatherings of very old friends conceived in a spirit of the most intimate fraternity. There was the glitter of humor awakening the sparkle of laughter, and the laughter was pierced by a fine and discriminating emotion. None will forget the delicious confessions of our President H. P. Muir disclosing that all that an English gentleman had found to learn during six years of intimacy with the League. Is it necessary to add that all those of us who applauded recognized in the very applause itself the long road that each of us had travelled in the same direction.
Avowals of such excellence and truth, could they be placed at the head of these minutes, would express better than these poor phrases the realization experienced by all the delegates, over and above the task of corporative defense, the great living force of our Association. That is, that thanks to it each of us learns increasingly to know, to understand, to esteem and to acquire affection for his confreres of other and distant countries. Knowledge and friendship among individuals is the best way to approach knowledge and friendship between nations. We are justified in claiming that the ILAB deserves more fully from year to year its grand title of LEAGUE, with its implication of a bond linking all booksellers grouped under its aegis.
The pages that follow will adequately display the fertile and salutary work accomplished by the Committee; all the decisions, the most important and the most delicate alike, were taken unanimously. This sufficiently proves that there is no longer a single bookseller who is not conscious of the power, the moral and practical value for the defense of the interests of our trade which is represented by the INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF ANTIQUARIAN BOOSKELLERS.
G.B. [Georges Blaizot]
Monday, July 21st, 3.0 p.m.
1. Scrutineers of Voting. Miss Hamill, nominated by the American Association and Mr. de Nobele, nominated by the French Association, were appointed Scrutineers.
2. The Annual Report of the Committee was unanimously adopted.
3. The Treasurer's Report and Balance Sheet. The Treasurer presented his statement of accounts. He indicated that during 1951 he had completed the payment for printing the Directory, a total of Fr. frs 1,152,017. The receipts in respect of sales of the Directory, and of the advertisements in it, had greatly contributed to redressing the balance which, at one time, was in deficit. Secretarial expenses had increased considerably during the past year because of the cost of preparing the Directory. A detailed report on the financial situation relating to the Directory had been circulated. Briefly it had produced a net profit of Belgian frs. 78,017.80, and 372 copies were still in stock. Next year we could finance the publication of the Dictionary, work on which was already in hand.
4. & 5. Report by the Honorary Auditors. Neither of the honorary auditors appointed at the Brussels Conference had attended to scrutinize the accounts for the year. Mr. Gronholt Pedersen's kind offer to substitute for them was gladly accepted, and he presented a favorable report on his scrutiny. It was agreed that a professional auditor be appointed to examine, present and sign the League's accounts and balance sheet for the coming year. The Treasurer's Report and Balance Sheet were accepted with acclamation and with a special vote of thanks.
6. Subscriptions for 1953. It was agreed that the subscriptions for 1953 should be continued at the same rate as for 1952, but the Committee was given discretion to negotiate with one or two of the smaller nations who find the rate of subscription particularly arduous, and was empowered to reduce their subscription by an amount not exceeding 15%. The President reported that the British Association was making an appeal for contributions to a special voluntary Fund, over and above the subscription paid by the Association; this Fund to be put at the disposal of the League to enable it to undertake additional activities. He also announced that the American Association would follow this excellent example by making a similar appeal to its members. It should be clear that in both cases these contributions would be in addition to the normal subscriptions paid by these associations.
7. Paid Secretariat. The eventual aim, not at present a practical possibility, was to employ a full-time, bi-lingual administrator, capable of dealing with all the routine work of the League under the guidance of the President. At present the utmost that could be achieved was the engagement of part-time secretarial staff, and it was agreed that, provided sufficient funds were available, a sum should be set aside to provide secretarial assistance for the President and the Vice-President, the amount to be fixed by the Committee in the light of experience.
8. Committee Procedure. Proposed New Rules. After extensive discussion both in the meeting of Presidents and in the General Assembly, the text of the new rules was unanimously adopted as follows:
A - All matters dealt with by the Executive Committee of the League shall be treated by the members of such Committee as absolutely confidential when they meet exclusively as a Committee. No member of such Committee shall while he is a member, or after he has ceased to be a member, divulge to a non-member of the Committee any resolution, or proposal for a resolution, or any matter transacted, discussed, or considered at a meeting of such Committee, or any correspondence with, or by, such Committee unless duly authorized in writing by the Committee (or in writing by the President of the Committee acting on its behalf) to do so.
B - The League shall indemnify the members of the Executive Committee, jointly and severally, from and against all actions, claims, damages and demands brought or made against them, or any of them, arising from any act, statement or writing by a member while at a meeting of the Committee, or elsewhere if duly authorized as mentioned in rule N° A provided that:
a) Such act statement or writing shall be made or done bona fide and without malice and in the best interests of the League and
b) Nothing in this rule contained shall operate to protect any member of the Committee who shall be in breach of rule N° A.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 11.30 am
9. Publication of Conference Minutes. Various misconceptions about cost having being cleared up, and it having been pointed out that the cost of a printed resume would not exceed £ 10 for the larger Associations and at a proportionate cost to the smaller Associations in accordance with the size of their membership, it was unanimously agreed that a printed resume of the decisions of the Conference in English and French should be prepared, in an edition sufficiently large to supply one copy to each domestic member of each association. All associations to take and buy at cost a sufficient number of copies to supply their own members.
10. Authority of Decisions. It was agreed that all decisions made by the Annual Conference of the League, whether unanimously or by a majority, should be accepted as binding by all its affiliated Associations, it being understood that no such decision should affect the internal organization of any association but should apply only to financial and administrative relations with the League.
11. Directory. The Vice-President gave his report on the present state of this enterprise. Of the original edition, of which 1500 copies were printed, more than 1100 copies had been sold to date. The balance of the enterprise can be struck at the satisfactory profit shown in the Treasurer's balance sheet. The remaining stock consists of 372 copies. The French Association was ready to give a firm order for 150 copies at a price of Fr. frs. 875 each, and an individual bookseller was ready to purchase the remaining stock at the same price. (Our valuation - Fr. frs 775 each for the copies in stock - was therefore very prudent). The Conference having accepted the French offer by acclamation, other associations immediately gave further new orders for a total of 97 copies which entitles them to a pro rata discount. This reduced considerably the number of copies remaining in stock, and it was decided to take no special action to dispose of the remainder.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 4.25 pm.
12. Dictionary. Mr. Hertzberger, as editor of the dictionary, reported that although he was still awaiting a completion of the translation in three languages, he had definite promises that these would be ready within the next three months. He was able to present a specimen lay-out of the dictionary in printed form and a very rough approximate estimate of the cost. He also explained the system on which the dictionary was compiled, with French as the key language, and the very simple system of cross references that had been devised. His report was accepted with acclamation, and he was desired to proceed with the completion of the work as soon as possible.
13. Tables of Usages and Customs. Mr. Blaizot, President of the Commission entrusted with the preparation of these articles, reported on its deliberations. It was decided to circulate to all Associations a definitive text with certain modifications. It was also decided to add the following article:
When books are despatched the risks of transport are the responsibility of the sender, which he may cover by insurance if he thinks fit. The cost of such insurance is to be debitable to the purchaser.
The drafting of an article to cover risks in stolen books was referred back for further examination by the Commission.
14. Committee of Honour. Mr. Blaizot reported on his correspondence with the various associations and communicated the names submitted by them for the constitution of a Committee of Honour. He made a special appeal - supported by the President - to the associations that had not yet proposed any names and asked them urgently to reply without delay. It was decided to request the persons already nominated to permit their names to be included on the Committee of Honour. A warm vote of thanks was accorded to Mr. Blaizot for the services he had rendered the League in the constitution of the Committee of Honour, as well as for the preparation of the Table of Usages and Customs.
Wednesday, July 23rd, 11.00 am
15. Children's Holidays. Mr. Charles Ganz was unable to be present but had sent a report to the President saying that as a result of personal contact with various booksellers he had arranged for several exchanges of children and would remain at the disposal of those who wished to make use of the scheme.
16. Emblem. Fifty clichés of the emblem had been taken by the German Association during the current year.
17 & 18. Confidential Lists and Debtors. The President stressed the usefulness of this service if it were fully employed, and also the necessity of prompt information being forwarded to the Presidents of the Associations and thus to the Committee of the League both in relation to bad debts and to subsequent payment by debtors. It is extremely important that if after lodging a complaint a bookseller receives payment from the debtor, he should immediately forward that information to his own President who should, in turn, inform the League. Otherwise, not only is the League liable to give false information about a debtor who has paid, nut the possibility of legal action is a very real one. Booksellers cannot be too frequently reminded that when receiving an order from a person unknown to them they should make full use of the League's services. If the client is a bookseller reference to the International Directory will show whether he is a member of his national association. If not, application should be made to the President of the bookseller's own Association for information, and if no information is available payment of a pro-forma invoice should be awaited before sending the books. Such information as the League obtains is regularly suppled to all presidents, relating both to booksellers and to private collectors, and all members of associations should cultivate the habit of approaching their own associations for advice before dealing with new clients.
19. Film. Although it had been reluctantly decided that this project could not be continued at present, it was to be retained as a very desirable possibility when the League's financial position would permit of its achievement.
20. International Trade Passport. Printed specimens of the passport were presented to the Conference and the President emphasized not only the usefulness but the importance of these identity cards. He drew special attention to the clause to be signed by those to whom the cards be issued, by which the arbitration of the League is accepted in all matters of international dispute, with the proviso that the cards should be numbered, that the numbered issued to each association should be recorded by the League, and that the Committee of each separate Association should also record the number of the passport issued to any member applying for it. The Committee was empowered to proceed with the printing and the distribution of these passports.
21. Proposal of Finland. No member of the Finnish Association was present at the Congress, but as certain other countries were strongly in favor of changing to a biennial Conference, the President asked for a discussion of this proposal. After the expression of considerably divergent views by various associations, it was unanimously agreed that it was of vital importance to continue to hold Congresses annually for the time being.
22. Proposal of France. After a long and amicable, but animated discussion, it was decided that:
a) Conditions of public sales. All associations would be asked to supply the conditions of public sales in their respective countries. This information would be examined by a Commission nominated by the Committee on the widest possible basis. Our end would be to recommend a greater degree of uniformity in the conditions of sales, and possible revisions of some of them.
b) Moral and pecuniary support of the ILAB for an association engaged in legal action connected with the general interests of the trade. It was decided to adopt the principle of moral and pecuniary support furnished by the League to any association engaged in a legal action connected with the general interests of the trade.
The means and conditions of this support which would engage, if needs be, the finances of the League, were left to the discretion of the Committee.
23. Proposals of Great Britain.
a) Credit terms for foreign booksellers. Mr. Sawyer, President of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, said that the intention of his proposal was largely met in the Table of Usages and Customs. He nevertheless thought it pertinent to remind booksellers purchasing abroad that credit could not be extended over an unlimited period, and urged them to pay for their foreign purchases as promptly as possible. He thought that especially in the case of first purchases, payment should be made immediately or as soon as currency regulations would permit.
b) Mr. Sawyer said that his Association would welcome an opportunity to meet the officers of the League as frequently as possible, and that the suggestion of the ABA was that if the meetings of the Committee of the League could be held in different countries this would give the opportunity for Associations to collect their members together in special session to hear from the League Committee an account of the work in progress, the hopes for the future and the general activity of the League. In this way, and in answer to questions from members, the importance of the League would be brought home very closely to the members of the host association, and would evoke a most stimulating response. It was agreed that the proposal should be adopted.
24. Proposals of the United States.
a) Careless and inaccurate cataloging. Mr. Wormser, President of the American Association, said that this proposal had been largely covered by the Table of Usages and Customs, but he would like to stress that under US Customs laws it is necessary to make a formal entry of any consignment exceeding 100 $ in value. This involves employing a customs broker, at a minimum cost of 15 $ to 20 $, so that even if the books were returnable by agreement, their return does not protect the bookseller from financial loss.
b) Inadequate packing. Mr. Wormser also wished to draw special attention to the need for particular care in the packing of books for transatlantic shipment. They were subject to harsh treatment in transit and every precaution should be taken to protect books posted to the USA.
25. Date and Venue of next Conference. Amid warm applause and great acclamation the invitation of the Italian Association that the Congress be held in Milan in September 1953 was gratefully accepted.
Thursday, July 24th, 11.15 am
26. Contributions by visitors to Conferences. Dr. Olschki, the President of the Italian Association asked that consideration of this proposal should be deferred until next year. The President said that while appreciating the generosity of the Italian Association in this respect, such a postponement would undoubtedly be proposed by the next country to invite the Conference. He therefore suggested that the Conference should agree that visiting delegates be expected to make some contribution to festivities on future congresses, but this should not come into force until after the Congress for 1953. It was generally agreed that the form and amount of the contribution to be made be negotiated between the Committee and the host association. The President added that various delegates had asked whether it would be possible, in future, for some form of identification badge to be issued for delegates, and he recommended this to the consideration of the Italian Association.
27. Retirement of three members of the Committee. Mr. Gronholt Pedersen having reluctantly agreed to offer himself for re-election in response to the unanimous wish of his colleagues, was re-elected by acclamation. Mr. Blaizot, President of the French Association, and Mr. Sawyer, President of the British Association, were also unanimously elected to the Committee by acclamation. The President reported that Mr. Hertzberger, who had been reluctantly persuaded to consent to re-election last year, now found the duties of a League Commitment too arduous and wished to resign. On the proposal of Mr. Blaizot, Mr. Hertzberger was unanimously appointed to the newly created post of Father of the League with ex officio membership of the Committee, for life. To fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of Mr. Hertzberger, the President suggested the election of Dr. Olschki. Unfortunately his commitments would not permit him to accept the nomination and in his place Mr. Aeschlimann of the Italian Association was unanimously elected.
28. Election of President. The President said the only natural successor to himself was the Vice-President and no appointment could possibly give more general satisfaction than the acceptance by Mr. Poursin of the Presidency. He repeated his warm personal testimony to the Vice-President and regretted that neither pleas nor persuasion had been able to induce him to accept the Presidency. Despite the Committee's reluctance to propose a nomination, verbal and written approaches from various delegations had shown a general desire for the nomination of Mr. Georges Blaizot for the Presidency. This was a nomination that the Committee could present without hesitation, and Mr. Blaizot was elected by acclamation. In responding to the election Mr. Blaizot proposed that Mr. P. H. Muir should be elected President of Honor of the League. This being unanimously agreed Mr. Muir asked that in addition to the honor conferred upon him his new post should be made pleasurable by the election of Mr. André Poursin as President of Honor also. This was carried by acclamation.
29. Election of Vice-President. Under similar circumstances associated with the Presidency, the Committee nominated the election of Mr. J. E. S. Sawyer as Vice-President. This was carried by acclamation.
30. Other Business.
a) Report on relations with Unesco. The Vice-President gave a detailed report on his contacts and relations with Unesco on the League's behalf. He reported on the lively interest of Unesco in the dictionary we are to publish, and on the inclusion in the "Unesco Bulletin" of a notice of our Directory. Despite the close co-operation of Unesco, and the unanimous efforts of all our associations, the International Postal Congress refused any reduction of charges in the despatch of booksellers' catalogues, but this struggle will be resumed on the earliest occasion.
Details on the Unesco Bonds have been distributed to all Presidents and efforts have been made to broaden and simplify the methods of using them. A close and sympathetic contact is maintained with Unesco and the important personalities of this organization, who are extremely sympathetic to our efforts. A vote of thanks was accorded to them.
b) Export-Import Regulations. The President asked that those countries who had not yet supplied the regulations observed in their own countries should do so immediately, and that all Associations should regularly inform the League of the changes in their own national regulations with a view to these being circulated to all Presidents.
c) Membership. There was nothing to add to the details given in the Annual Report except that at least one Association had been able to report very increased membership meanwhile.
d) German Proposal on Apprentices. The President said that Mr. Domizlaff had drawn his attention to the fact that greater freedom was now permitted in certain countries in arranging exchanges with apprentices and learners. He advised booksellers who were interested in the possibilities to investigate the exact position in their own countries.
e) Invitations to Observers. The President said that as the Annual Report showed a new association of booksellers had been formed in the Argentine. Mr. Sawyer had informed him that his brother who was now traveling in South Africa proposed to approach booksellers there to form an association. It was agreed that both countries should be invited to send observers, without power to vote, to the next Conference.
In closing the Conference the President called special attention to the fact that all decisions taken at this Congress had been unanimously agreed. This was a fine tribute to the spirit of goodwill which had prevailed throughout the meetings and a subject on which the Congress could be justifiably proud. He wished to thank everyone who had so facilitated this task.
REPORT OF THE WORK OF THE INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS - 1952
By the President
Mr Percy H. Muir
There is difficulty in reporting on League finance at this stage because its financial year runs from January to December. I am not the Treasurer and I have no figures later than last March. During the early months of the year we receive most of our annual income; whereas in March we still have to foresee three-quarters of the year's expenditure, including some fairly heavy items.
Nevertheless it is possible to present some sort of comparison, and some estimate of the future position.
At the Paris Conference, (1950) when I took over there was a debit balance of about £45. If all payments due were made by the end of the year the credit balance hoped for then, was £150.
At March 1952, with all outstanding debts paid, the cash in hand was about £350. Monies due to the League, but unpaid, including subscriptions totalled approximately a further £1000. So that at that moment, March, 1952, if all Associations paid up at once, we should have had £1350 in the bank. Actually we had £350, as I have said.
But at that point only a quarter of the financial year had passed. In other words, even if we had had all the cash in hand that we ought to have had, it would have had to last us another 9 months.
During that nine months would come at least four meetings of the Committee (one at Paris, March '52, not accounted for in this budget, one at Brussels in May, one at Geneva in July, and at least one more before the end of the year). The expenses of the Geneva Conference - hire of a hall for the business meetings, two stenographers, and an interpreter, etc. - must be reckoned with. The probable expenses may be estimated on the basis of last year's figures. The total outgoings for the full year 1951 were approximately £804; three quarters of that sum would be £606. Deducting this from the total expected income for the year we reach an anticipated balance of about £750.
These figures are not entirely self-explanatory. First let me say that the total annual income from subscriptions is just under £700, and if we can maintain that income, and get it all in regularly, and on time, we shall be in a much happier position than we are, when we have been constantly held up for lack of funds at some crucial moments. But I shall have more to say on that point later. For the moment I want to explain how it arises that our anticipated income for the year is actually over £2,000, whereas our subscription revenue is about one third of that amount. The answer can be given in one word - the Directory.
We have sold just over 1000 copies to date, giing a total revenue expected in this financial year of, roughly, £ 1,250 . The advertisement revenue totals about £350. Some of this was paid to us last year, but the amount paid or still due gives our figures their unusually healthy appearance at the moment. There remain unsold nearly 400 copies, which we hope you will help us to dispose of during the coming months.
It has cost something like 71,200 or slightly more, the exact figures are not in my hands, to produce, so that we are well on the right side already. But there is an imponderable figure that does not, and will not enter into those costs; that is the time of the two editors, amounting in all to several hundred hours. If I may suggest a conservative estimate of the time as five-hundred hours each, and if I do not over-estimate their value at ten shillings an hour, you could add £ 500 to the cost very easily.
Now this brings me to the point that there is an undue burden of voluntary work resting on the shoulders of the League's officers, and, if I may say so, especially on the President. I have been extremely fortunate in my Vice-President, who has assumed at least an equal part of the duties with myself, equally voluntarily. I do not exaggerate one iota when I say that between us we compose, dictate, sign and despatch some 5,000 sheets of typewritten matter in the course of a year. Much of that material has to have the French and English texts carefully translated from one language to another, collated and compared. Much of it is in the nature of reports on special tasks allotted to us, much is in letters to Presidents acquainting them with latest information, there are the texts of Committee Minutes to prepare and issue, some four or five times a year. Each of these has to be done in two forms, sometimes in three, and each in two languages. There is the verbatim report for Committee members, six copies of each, a fairly full resume for each President (fifteen copies in all-one for each President and one each for the President and the Vice- President of the League), and if, as often occurs, there is information valuable to the Association Presidents, but unsuitable for broadcasting, a third version must be prepared for publication in trade journals, again fifteen copies.
Then there is the correspondence. Let me give you one example. You may remember that it was decided at Brussels to arrange the Conference for 1952 in July instead of in September, as formerly, and it was generally agreed that it should be in the second week of July. On further reflection this date was found unsuitable in some quarters, and had to be changed. In order to get the actual date fixed, we were involved in writing over thirty letters, sending two long transatlantic cables and in telephoning twice to Paris and once to Geneva. That was only to get the date fixed. On the day when these notes were completed twenty-two letters were despatched from my office on routine affairs for the League.
All this work has to be done in spare time, or in made time. Mr. Poursin reckons that the time taken by League work costs him three catalogues a year. I know from the turn-over figures of my own business, what it has cost me there. This is not a complaint. We took the job on with our eyes open-we knew what we were in for. We do not mind working our fingers to the bone, but we prefer that the reward should be something more than just bony fingers.
The League has no paid secretariat, no office, no typist, not even a typewriter of its own. It has been one of my dearest ambitions, since taking over the Presidency, to remedy that state of affairs before handing over to my successor, as I shall do in July. By careful husbanding of the League's resources I begin to see that prospect approaching realisation. If I am able to hand over to him a cash balance of about £750, with the prospect of further revenue from present and future publications, I shall feel that I have accomplished an important task satisfactorily.
But when you come to think of it, to weigh it all up, a total annual subscription income of less than £700 is not an enormous amount for an international organisation to which thirteen countries
are affiliated. You will want to know what we do with the money you entrust to us. Well, I have indicated some of the answers already. I am absolutely convinced that the League played a very large part in persuading the Americans to start a national association; and the fact that they joined us so soon after their inauguration is in large measure due to the persuasive powers of my predecessor, our lamented first President and President of Honour, W. S. Kundig. The German Association joined us last year; and we are, at the moment, negotiating with leading booksellers in the Argentine,
and in Brazil with a view to associations being formed there. The signs are very promising; and I surely need not emphasise to some of you the importance of the possibility of regular, official co-operation with Europe on the part of those two countries.
I think it is not unduly boastful if I suggest that the existence of the League, and its activities have been a useful source of recruitment to its constituent associations. Especially the publication of the Directory, with the strict rule that only members of their domestic associations are included in it, has been a stimulus to membership.
In Paris we compiled, from figures supplied by the Associations themselves, a roster of membership. We have recently received the latest figures from the Associations, and most of them show an increase, sometimes a marked one.
Belgium 32 39
Denmark 49 52
France 360 367
Great Britain 300 340
Sweden 24 27
Switzerland 42 68
Now let me tell you a little of the routine work of the League; the sort of day to day affairs that come to hand. Only the other day an A.B.A. member wrote to Miss Myers giving details of a foreign payment of £27 odd owing to him for over two years. All letters and accounts had been totally ignored by the debtor. Miss Myers sent the letter on to me, and within two weeks I had secured payment in full. I think some of you don't realize how effective and helpful this service can be.
Another letter from an A.B.A. member was forwarded to me saying that a certain firm abroad, which was on the League's confidential list, had paid a fair-sized account with reasonable promptitude. I am always most grateful for information of this kind, and I made immediate use of it. I looked up the two complaints against this firm, wrote to the complainants, wrote also to the hitherto defaulting firm, secured payment for both creditors, and notified all Presidents that this name could now be removed from the confidential list. In this connection I wrote sixteen letters on the subject, besides the final circular to Presidents.
Within the last two months I was advised by one of the presidents that advertisements for books were appearing in a certain important journal from a firm still very deservedly on the League's confidential list. I wrote to the editor of the journal and, after an … [three lines have been torn because the document had been glued in a scrap-book] … what is going on behind the scenes all the time. Naturally the details do not always come to light; much of the League's work is done quietly, almost secretly; but I can assure you it is working for you all the time, and the range and influence of its work is growing every day. I don't want to bore you with too much of what is, after all, routine work and the sort of thing we are there to do. But I do want you to know that we are doing our job, and that your money is being well spent.
I should like to be allowed one word on where the money comes from. You are at present paying a subscription of £124 a year or thereabouts. How does that compare with payments by other associations? I will tell you if you will bear with figures in Belgian francs, the currency in which your subscription is paid. The subscriptions were volunteered at the Meeting of Presidents
in Brussels in 1950. The A.B.A., the Americans and the French each pay B.F. 17,400. Others pay varying amounts, but what I want to draw attention to is that, reckoned per member of the association concerned, the A.B.A. and the French get off very lightly. The French pay 47 frs. and the A.B.A. 51 frs. per member. Norway has the highest rate. They have only five members, and they pay 2320 frs., which is 464 frs. a head, or just over nine times the rate you pay. Sweden pays nearly four times your rate, and no other country, bar America, pays less than twice the rate you pay. What I want to emphasize is that to cut down subscriptions would be to cripple an organisation that is just getting into its stride; and would continue the intolerable burden on the President's shoulders which he should not be asked to bear.