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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
 
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Rare Book Trade

New Trends in the International Antiquarian Book Trade

Published on 25 Aug. 2011
We all blame the internet for dramatic changes in the rare book trade. But have our problems really changed within the last decades? Reading Anthony Rota's lecture given in Tokyo in 1990 you could be inclined to say: No! He writes: "Booksellers, like the collectors and librarians they serve, are conservative creatures. By their very nature they are resistant to change; yet they are caught up in the changes that beset us today, and if they do not welcome them they must at least learn to adapt to them if they are to flourish. The antiquarian book trade has managed to cope with changes over a number of centuries now, and I do not doubt for a moment that it will continue to do so."
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Rare Book Trade

"Tempora mutantur ..." Veränderung und Wandel im antiquarischen Handel

Published on 04 July 2011
Eberhard Köstler, President of the German Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, has been an antiquarian bookseller and an autograph specialist for more than 30 years. He began his career in 1975, when he worked for Dr. Hans Schneider (Tutzing) during his summer holidays while studying classical Latin and Greek at the University of Munich. "At that time the German rare book trade was dominated by large companies with many employees and long traditions dating back to the 19th and early 20th century, such as Ackermann and Woelfle in Munich, Kistner in Nuremberg, Steinkopf, Neidhardt, Eggert and Kocher-Benzing in Stuttgart, Stenderhoff in Münster, Koch in Berlin or the "Hamburger Bücherkabinett" of Dr. Maria Conradt. The "golden age" of the antiquarian book trade seemed to be stable and successful. Radical changes were unthinkable." From 1988 to 2000, Eberhard Köstler had worked as an auctioneer at the Munich auction house Zisska, Schauer & Co., before he established is own business in 2000 and became VDA President in 2006. Within these years the rare book trade experienced a revolution which was totally unexpected by the elder generations of antiquarian booksellers.
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Rare Book Trade

Does the “Book Dust Disease” Threaten the Rare Book Trade? A 19th Century Study Rediscovered

Published on 23 June 2011
Dust on the shelves. Collectors consider it romantic: the dusty corners of antiquarian bookshops where scarce volumes have been hidden under the dust for centuries waiting to be discovered and to be bought by book lovers for a few cents. (The legends say that these books exist.) Dealers live with it or, most of the time, don't do anything against it: the dust in the corners where boxes with hundreds (thousands) of books are stored waiting to be described, priced and put into the showcases or into the internet. Scienstists warn: dust may be unhealthy. As early as 1900 Eduard Fischer von Röslerstamm published an empirical analysis on the life expentancy of antiquarian booksellers, librarians and book collectors. His question was: Did they suffer from dust in the lungs? Was the "book dust disease" an occupational disease that threatened the rare book trade?
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Rare Book Trade

Do Rare Books Appreciate in Value?

Published on 25 May 2011
I was recently asked by a reporter to comment on this question, and I offered some specific examples. As is often the case, my comments in the article, as well as an explanation of the examples, were very much cut for space (no hard feelings, I understand how these things go). But I thought I would provide the examples here, as well as a fuller answer to this question of how much rare books appreciate in value.
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Rare Book Trade

The Importance of Open Shop Antiquarian Bookstores

Published on 31 March 2011
Michael F. Suarez is Director of Rare Book School (RBS), Professor of English, University Professor, and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at the University of Virginia. He holds four masters degrees (two each in English and theology) and a D.Phil. in English from Oxford. Together with H. R. Woudhuysen he edited the monumental two volume "Oxford Companion to the Book" in 2010. Nigel Beale met Michael Suarez for an interview in Boston:
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Rare Book Trade

Rare Books in the Press: This Is Why Your Used Bookstore Clerk Hates You

Published on 01 March 2011
"Although bookstore workers love their customers, or are at least morally obligated to, sometimes the love is so great it turns murderous. Ever tried to finish all-you-can-eat coconut shrimp? That's the love we're dealing with here. Although your narrator worked at a used bookstore just outside of the city more than a decade ago, he shut his eyes tight, remembered three years of Fat Slice Pizza, and relived some moments of quiet desperation." Michael Leaverton knows: "This Is Why Your Used Bookstore Clerk Hates You"
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Germany's Rare Book Fair Stuttgart, 24th – 26th January 2020: Growing number of international firms, an expanded events programme and the new Young Collectors' Award

The Rare Book Fair Stuttgart is proud to announce the patronage of the Lord Mayor of Stuttgart. 75 German and international dealers will present a variety of material from illuminated manuscripts, and incunabula to rare books, autographs, illustrated works and graphic art of the 20th century.
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Article

The Strange Suicide of an Early 20th C. Female Rare Book Binder

On Sunday morning, December 29, 1913, at 11:30AM the body of Mary Effingham Chatfield, 42, an art bookbinder with work commissioned by many of New York's most eminent book collectors and private libraries, was discovered flung across a couch in her studio on the sixth floor of 400 W. 23d Street in Manhattan, NYC. She had been stabbed with a long, slender paper cutter with keen edge and point. On a nearby table a blood-splattered note was found with the cryptic accusation, "Mrs. Howard is to blame for this."
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: Norman Mailer

Mailer has enjoyed great public esteem, exceeded perhaps only his own opinion of himself, ever since his first book The Naked and The Dead was published in (1948). The book is notorious for the cheapness of the materials employed in its construction, and don't be surprised when you have to pay a chilling premium for a truly fine copy. However, just because a dealer says its a truly fine copy, don't accept it at face value. Among its usual flaws are extensive rubbing to the bottoms of the boards (which seems to have a thinner skin than George W. Bush at a Mensa meeting), and tanning to the white lettering on the spine.
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Booksellers

Living With - And From - Books, Part 2

This catalogue, consisting of 34 pages, printed on plain paper in June 1921, for us is just like a "Number One Dime", a Disney's good luck charm at the beginning of a long series of publications. The index of subjects is already quite significant: next to fine arts, philosophy, Italian literature and religions, we find, as a matter of fact, unusual entries, such as "anecdotes", "curiosities", "erotica" and "freemasonry". Going through the pages of this family, but also historical, treasure, 90 years after its publication, is really touching. The delicate pages yellowed with dignity, its simple cover in light green wrappers, a little worn out and with a few brown spots, the border surrounding the title - that would have remained as the graphical design for some years to come - make this "elderly and distinguished gentleman" closer to the dust-jacket first editions of the beginning of the century, which are now for sale on the shelves of the bookshop, than to the modern and colourful recently published "colleagues".
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - William S. Burroughs and the Arts

There are a lot of "what ifs" in book collecting. What if I had bought this and not that? What if I had more money? Or more time? What if I collected this and not that? "What if I did not collect William Burroughs?" is a question I consider. In a piece I wrote over a decade ago, I came to the conclusion that I would have collected Charles Olson instead. The question that serves as the boundary I can never cross or the horizon I can never see beyond is "What if I did not collect?" Such a question throws my very existence into doubt like "What if my parents never met?" If I did not collect, I quite simply would not be the same person I am now.
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