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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
 

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ABEBOOKS Bloggers Visit the ILAB Pop Up Fairs in Vienna and Chicago

April 23 is going to be another special day for booklovers. UNESCO's 2016 World Book & Copyright Day will feature book-related events on a worldwide scale with ILAB's contribution being a series of pop-up book fairs displaying rare and collectable books from the four corners of the Earth. ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) is repeating a successful programme introduced in 2015 on World Book Day that put rare books in front of thousands of people. Last year ILAB activities raised more than 10,000 Euros for UNESCO's Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI), which provides literacy assistance to children in South Sudan.
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Congress

1949 - London

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers   By John Carter
The week of September 5th to 10th was a significant one in the world of books; for within its span was contained the third international congress of antiquarian booksellers. This was the first held under the auspices of the newly formed International League, for which the Amsterdam and Copenhagen conferences had laid the foundations; and it was held, appropriately, in London, the home of the oldest national association, which acted as host on what proved to be a memorable occasion. 
In this country old books - even rare books and first editions - are not normally considered newsworthy. The exceptions are apt to be due to what journalists call "human interest," and a First Folio must stun an innocent bystander before it can get into the papers. Without disrespect to the many photogenic ladies who adorned the Congress, if there were room for portraits on this page they would be those of M. Kundig, of Geneva, the President of the International League; of Mr. P. H. Muir, of Elkin Matthews, its Vice-President and fellow-architect; of Mr. Herzberger, of Amsterdam, who originally conceived it; and of Mr. C. D. Massey, of Pickering and Chatto, the President of the A.B.A., on whose shoulders lay the responsibility for the organisation - and the success - of its first plenary congress. 
For the League, only one year old, faced its first real test at this conference. And it is not, I think, too early to conclude that a tentative, a hopeful, an only partially integrated body, achieved in the course of a single week a remarkable measure of stability, confidence and harmony. The arrangements for corporate hospitality worked smoothly, from the dinner at the Guildhall on Monday, through visits to the British Museum, to the Royal Library at Windsor, to Cambridge; through a tour of London, a Promenade Concert, and a vin d'honneur given by the British Council and graced by the presence of Sir Stanley Unwin; to the farewell dinner and dance on the Saturday evening. Toasts were drunk and speeches were made. Among the many good ones I recall with particular pleasure Mr. Muir's, Mrs. Massey's (in French), Mme. Kundig's, and M. de Nobele's elegant demonstration of a Frenchman being witty in English; while Mr. Ifan Kyrle Fletcher's graceful performance as master of ceremonies showed that he has an alternative career awaiting him if he ever gets tired of bookselling. 
Agreeable, however, as was the sociable side of the conference; valuable as it was to exchange views with delegates from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Holland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, not to mention an "observer" from the United States, in the person of Mr. Laurence Gomme (President of the recently-formed and not yet affiliated American Association); practically fruitful as may have been the presence of fifty foreign booksellers in London - one dealer alone did £2,000 worth of business with the visitors: yet the really important work was done in the business sessions of the conference. Despite the heat, the President's report, the budget, and a substantial list of agenda were thoroughly debated. And it was convincing evidence of the democratic character of the meeting that the voice of (say) the Norwegian delegate, representing an association of only half-a-dozen members, was heard as respectfully as that of the President of the French Syndicat, which numbers 360. English and French arc the official languages of the League; and it was fortunate that M. Kundig's exceptional talents as chairman included the ability to sum up, to persuade, to rally or to joke, with almost equal facility in either language.
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Among the antiquarians: Why there’s optimism in the old book game

"'There are a lot of happy dealers,' said Adrian Harrington, the world's foremost purveyor of James Bond first editions, as he walked through the fair on Saturday afternoon. He counted himself among them. The dealers who attended the festival are all part of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, a superhero-sounding collective encompassing 23 individual associations around the world, including the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Canada." Read more about the Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair in "The National Post"
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Article

The Rare Book Trade - Hit Me Again, Please

Thus the inadequacies of the general used book store concept, circa 1980, led to the development of specialties at Ten Pound Island. Thus the failure of those specialties to meet the economic demands of an escalating real estate market drove Ten Pound Island out of the retail trade in 1993. Thus the computer and the fax machine put an end to TPI's flourishing postcard-driven nautical book search operation, which itself - owing to the need for a place to store the thousands of books accumulated in the course of this evolution – put TPI back in the retail business. Thus the rise of the Internet and the degradation in the value of low end maritime books, which had hitherto been Ten Pound Island's stock in trade, resulted in TPIs penultimate exit from the retail trade. Thus the paradoxical combination of rising cost and increased availability of rare books drove TPI into manuscripts, ephemera and documents. Thus the failure of provincial book fairs, which had hitherto been a major source of sales and stock, forced TPI into further dependence upon the Internet and the cultivation of institutional customers. Thus sales at TPI dwindled from thousands of mid range transactions to hundreds of larger ones. Thus the intervals between cash infusions increased. Thus the owner of TPI woke up one morning at 3 am with his hair on fire, recalling theorem #1 and thinking, "I've got to get more low end stuff out there on the market, to fill in the gaps between big hits.
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Book Scouting in ... England, Scotland, Ireland

I wish I were the kind of traveler who blogs fluently, breezily, in the moment, from foreign sidewalk cafés and park benches. Instead, I am one who, two weeks after she's returned home, remembers that she intended to blog about her June book-scouting tour, and not just post the occasional photo to Facebook. Here are some belated highlights.
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Article

The Rare Book Trade - "Govern Yourselves Accordingly"

This was supposed to have been a review of last weekend's Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. But the event went so smoothly, and was such a success, that there isn't really much to say about it. Load in and setup proceeded without a hitch. The venue was roomy and well lit, and a steady and enthusiastic crowd kept us on our toes all weekend, dealing with librarians, private collectors and even a smattering of that most sought after demographic, young people.
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