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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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The ABA and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers

Published on 27 March 2018
The ABA and ILAB look back at a long history. The ABA is relaunching its flagship fair in London this year, the oldest antiquarian book fair in the world, under the auspices of ILAB. This text by the late Anthony Rota, ABA bookseller and ILAB President of Honour, was published in 2008 in the ABA Directory.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: Time Travel for Dummies

When my accountant said, "Hey, you've had another good year," my response was, "You've got to be kidding!" But then, looking back, I remembered some happy referrals, several fascinating consignments and, in general, quite a bit of successful book scouting. Ten Pound Island's invoices and check stubs (all digital!) told the story in detail. My "new business model," concocted so painfully over the past year, paid off. I dropped the California, Florida, and New York book fairs, cut expenses way back, moved from hard copy to web based catalogs, and quoted a lot more books using specially tailored, richly illustrated e-based catalogs.
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Booksellers

"Rare book dealers need more than 'Fingerspitzengefühl', they need a kind of sixth sense, paired with profound knowledge."

It runs in the family: In 1993 both father and son sat at the conference table of the Presidents Meeting in Los Angeles. Anton Gerits as ILAB President, Arnoud Gerits joined the meeting as delegate of the Dutch Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (NVvA). "I have grown up in a rare book selling family. Books, reading, and the interest in history and politics were vital for us", says Arnoud Gerits. He studied history and Dutch language and literature at the University of Amsterdam. In the 1970s most professors held their lectures about the Middle Ages. As he has always been a passionate reader with a special interest in history, he knew most books, facts, persons and epochs they were referring to in their lectures - and got bored. He took his degrees and thought about his future career. Then, one evening in Amsterdam, a friend celebrated the opening of his bookshop, and at the opening Arnoud Gerits met the owner of Athenaeum, one of Holland's largest independent bookstores founded in 1966. The owner urged him to establish his own business. "Anioud suddenly I knew: I wanted to become a bookseller." The next day Arnoud Gerits called his father, who said: "If you want to work in a bookshop, why don't you work for me?" A conversation with ILAB President Arnoud Gerits.
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Article

It’s a Book - Not an App

"Have you ever tried to explain book collecting to someone who's not a collector? This has never been an easy thing to do, but it seems to be much more difficult now than it was just a few years ago. The problem is not that books are unfamiliar objects, or that collecting is seen as an unusual pursuit. Despite increased competition, books can still be found everywhere, and collectors of all kinds are featured on more television shows than ever before. What makes an explanation of book collecting more difficult now is that the main purposes books have served for more than two thousand years - the storage and provision of information - can be achieved today in many other, and often much less expensive, ways...
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Article

Laurence Worms - New President of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA)

At the Annual General Meeting of the ABA on April 20, 2011, Laurence Worms of Ash Rare Books was elected President. Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971, and is known as one of the leading dealers in first editions and other antiquarian, rare and fine books, maps and prints. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been five times an elected member of the ABA Council. Worms writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades. His long-awaited " British Map Engravers : A Dictionary of Engravers, Lithographers and their Principal Employers to 1850", co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, will be launched at the London Map Fair at the Royal Geographical Society in June 2011.
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Article

A Tragedy: Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts

Timbuktu was one of the main centres of Arab learning in Africa. The library of Timbuktu owned numerous manuscripts and scrolls. They were the impressive proof that "black Africa" did not only have an oral, but a powerful written history. Now the library had been burnt down by rebels, before the French troops reached Timbuktu. Read the whole article from The Guardian.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Secret Life of Harper Lee

This week we celebrate Nelle Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in the sleepy town of Monroeville Alabama. As a girl, she became friends with another future writer: Truman Capote. The two were outsiders among their peers but discovered an affinity for each other. According to Capote biographer, Gerald Clarke, "Nelle was too rough for most other girls, and Truman was too soft for most other boys."
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