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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Booksellers Worldwide

Poul Jan Poulsen, Honorary Member of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABF)

Published on 26 Nov. 2010
Congratuliations! For his outstanding efforts and commitment to the antiquarian book trade, Poul Jan Poulsen - ILAB Treasurer for more than two decades - has been elected honorary member of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABF), as the only still active bookseller ever, and as the third in the entire history of ABF, which was founded in 1920. During the 90 years that ABF has been in existence, Poul has done more for the association than any other member. For many, many years, he has formed the back-bone of ABF, which would hardly be imaginable without him.
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Booksellers Worldwide

Keith Fletcher

Published on 23 Nov. 2010
I am a bookseller – a third generation bookseller and brought up on all kinds of old-fashioned ideas of Town and Gown, Gentlemen and Players, Society and Trade. Many years ago when we visited America regularly my father was invited to join that august New York Club, the Grolier. He declined on the grounds that it was not the right place for a tradesman. Consequently I feel that it is my duty tonight to present to you my credentials as a collector.
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Booksellers Worldwide

Cornstalk Bookshop Celebrates 30 Years

Published on 28 Oct. 2010
Congratulations! Cornstalk Bookshop celebrates its 30th anniversary. Paul Feain, ILAB General Secretary and owner of Cornstalk looks back to the beginnings: "Over the years I have been supported by many wonderful staff members, some of whom have gone on to operate their own rare bookshops. Some are professors and academics, some have had their books published. I owe a great debt to everyone on my staff and former staff members. These people are my friends and often I have drawn on their wisdom and the business would not have survived without their enthusiasm and support."
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Booksellers Worldwide

Antiquarian Books Do Have a Future! - An Interview with Alain Marchiset

Published on 22 Oct. 2010
Our trade has known in recent years very deep changes. We are hearing more and more often of the e-book, and it is not difficult to understand that in a few years the paper book will no longer be the cultural reference. I had also anticipated that fact in 2002 in another article "What future for rare books", in which I explained that rare and antiquarian books would probably be safe from the breakdown of the new book market, because rare books will remain collectibles. As I said then, "as the gap widens between books for consumer purposes and rare books, there will be greater distinction between them, and that such books will acquire greater value for collection purposes ". There will therefore always be demanding amateurs for fine leather bindings, beautifully illustrated books on fine paper, original manuscripts, etc… Can one really compare these beautiful artefacts to an e-book? Antiquarian books do have a future!
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Booksellers Worldwide

A Working Life: The Rare-Book Dealer - Ed Maggs

Published on 13 Oct. 2010
"For someone who loves old and rare books, buys and sells them, Ed Maggs hardly comes across as bookish, more of an energetic sporting type. But then, Maggs, 51, had ambitions of becoming a reggae superstar – not quite what his parents had in mind after an expensive private education at Westminster. Maggs played in a band called Talkover, worked as a DJ in various minor clubs and in department store stockrooms and other undemanding jobs, before fetching up like a prodigal son in the family business he initially wanted to avoid."
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Booksellers Worldwide

"He knows rare books. He knows how to sell rare books" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 5

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
It was 1967 and I was just three months an employee of Jake Zeitlin's "Big Red Barn" bookstore, Zeitlin and Ver Brugge, and knew nothing. I guess that we received a list or catalogue offering rare books for sale (computers and the internet hadn't been thought of, at least not in the book business) and I had ordered (for all of $40 if memory serves correctly) an Advance Proof Copy of Bertrand Russell's Satan in the Suburbs. I was just beginning to collect Russell and, of course, had no idea what an Advance Proof Copy of anything looked like! It turned out to be not unlike an ordinary small paperback, but it was an Advance Proof Copy, and it impressed me beyond measure!
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Booksellers Worldwide

"The best bookstore has one copy of everything in it" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 4

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
The first time I met Peter Howard, he was being guided to my booth at the Boston Book Fair by Harvey Tucker. His mission was to get possession of a rare book I had brought: H. L. Mencken's first book, Ventures Into Verse. Yes, there was some patter but there was also a kind of bravado, even macho; you could see it in the attitude of his hat and in the sudden way that the patter stopped and Peter got down to business. The old world gentility simply was not his style. It was refreshing even if a bit intimidating at times. Peter was not shy about his intent. The best antiquarian bookstore in the world, he let us know long ago, has one copy of everything in it. And our responsibility as booksellers on the road is to look at every rare book. It all sounds quite Faustian now. But Peter's great curiosity, his own willingness to share and to learn has never been lost on me or anyone close to him. There is always something possible about the most seemingly impossible task. To deny it is to throw down the gauntlet. And you really do not want to find yourself in that position with Peter.
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Booksellers Worldwide

Like "the library labyrinthe in Eco’s “The Name of the Rose" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 3

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
Peter B. Howard bears a remarkable resemblance to the crotchety old bookseller in Michael Ende's The Never Ending Story - "Your books, are safe, my books are real" - and his premises are probably the closest I've seen to those in the library labyrinthe in the filmed version of Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose," although I have yet to encounter any arsenic-laced incunabula except, perhaps, from the tongue of the proprietor. And Serendipity is the operative word for both the premises; in their vast inventories and ever changing denizens. The minotaur himself and his long suffering assistant, Nancy Kosenka, are the only two constants in this ever evolving and serendipitous landscape. And those premises are a bit like the various lands of Oz, although not nearly as neatly ordered and likely full of a lot more surprises.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Banned Books Week - ‘All that Hell could vomit forth’

This week is Banned Books Week. I've written about banned books before: the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in the Weimar Republic, in the Soviet Union. Here's something a little earlier: the libellous Philippiques of François-Joseph de Lagrange-Chancel (1677–1758). These virulent satires against the Regent, the duc d'Orléans, enjoyed a huge popularity in manuscript throughout the eighteenth century, as the varied examples here show. 'In spite of its imperfections and crying injustice, it is the monument of satire in France' (Nouvelle biographie générale).
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Article

The Top Five Children’s Libraries From Around the World

Libraries are not just for adults, and they are a wonderfully international experience. Go anywhere in the world and you'll find a place to gain access, have fun, and get an education. These are five of our favorite children's libraries from around the world.
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Article

Humperdinck’s „Hänsel und Gretel“ - Kitalálta, megcsinálta: A mai "Jancsi és Juliska" elé

The German composer Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) is best known for his opera "Hänsel und Gretel". He began working on it in Frankfurt in 1890. He first composed four songs to accompany a puppet show his nieces were giving at home. Then, using a libretto loosely based on the version of the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, he composed a "Singspiel" of 16 songs. The opera premiered in Weimar on 23 December 1893, under the baton of Richard Strauss, who called it "a masterpiece of the highest quality". With its synthesis of Wagnerian techniques (Humperdinck had assisted Wagner 1880/81 in his production of Parsifal) and traditional German folk songs, Hänsel und Gretel was an overwhelming success. In 1923 the London Royal Opera House chose it for their first complete radio opera broadcast. Eight years later, it was the first opera transmitted live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Eduard Hanslick, a Bohemian-Austrian music critic, attended the premiere of „Hänsel und Gretel" in Vienna. The former supporter, then severe critic of Richard Wagner published his impressions of Humperdinck's opera in 1894. Adam Bösze has translated the text into the Hungarian language for his blog on rare books and the history of music.
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Article

Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction and The Private Library

One of the most popular components of a private library is the mystery genre, which comprises a vast array of sub-genres such as detective fiction. The genesis of the detective fiction sub-genre may be traced to a short story penned by Edgar Allan Poe in 1841 titled The Murders in the Rue Morgue. All the elements of what we today recognize as the essential characteristics of the sub-genre are found in this short story: a brutal murder; baffled police; an independent investigator that solves the case through superior intelligence, humbling the police in the process.
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Article

“Tweedledum and Tweedledee” – VAO President Dieter Tausch shares his new passion with us: Twitter

Everybody is doing it. And the very few who refuse to do so, are said to be "old-fashioned". Tweets rule the world. Nowadays our perception and our means of communication are limited to 140 characters (blanks included). We make "friends" on Facebook and spread the news on Twitter. Dieter Tausch is President and chief of the tweets of the Austrian Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (VAO). Since October 2012 he shares his thoughts on the rare book trade with us via Twitter. Here is his report.
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