The Tough Life of an Antiquarian Bookseller in Spain
By Bob Fleck
Once a year, the Committee of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) gets together to talk about the problems and challenges facing the League. This Committee consists of the officers of the League that actually do the day-to-day work of this international organization composed of 21 countries. The meeting falls half way between the Presidents Meeting and the Congress, with events held in alternating years in the fall of the year. For the last three years, the Committee Meeting has been held in Gimenelles, a quiet hotel about an hour outside Barcelona.
I go to these meetings as a part of the “corporate memory” of the organization, as I had served on the Committee for many years including a four year stint as President.
The pictures might lead you to think that most of the meeting consists of fun activities surrounded by large meals and an unending supply of the local wine. But don’t be fooled. These laid-back times give all of us the perfect opportunity to talk about the future of antiquarian bookselling and what role the ILAB should play in the lives of the 2000 booksellers who are part of the League.
In attendance were booksellers from the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France, Australia, England, Denmark, and Tom and Heidi Congalton from the U.S. (Tom is Vice President). The main meeting was held outside in the yard under the trees, beginning at 10 in the morning and lasting until almost 7 at night. We discussed international tariffs and trade restrictions, the role of the book fair in our lives, our new meta-search engine on our web site, consumer protection, and many smaller issues. Outreach to the public and other booksellers via our new electronic newsletter and the possible establishment of a speaker’s bureau were part of our look into the future.
All this was done in the most congenial manner as we have come to know each other through our years of attending Congresses and our work on the Committee. We have truly become friends. None of us will forget my wife Millie leading the cheerleaders of the “Rest of the World” soccer team when playing the Italian team during our last congress in Bologna (we lost). She had organized cheerleaders from countries across the world including the wonderful Mrs. Nitta, wife of Mitsu Nitta of Japan (Yushodo) and had them all prancing along the sideline while waving home-made pom-poms.
The article was posted in the Oak Knoll Biblio Blog and is presented here by permission of the author.
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