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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
 
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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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Booksellers Worldwide

"There will never be another antiquarian bookseller like Peter Howard" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 1

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
It wasn't long before I determined to pay Serendipity Books a visit. In those days the store was located on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. In the company of my wife, I paid the first of many visits to Mr. Howard's antiquarian book shop and, in short order, became familiar with the controlled chaos which is the hallmark of this remarkable destination. My first impression of Mr. Howard was that of a keenly focused, and earnest individual who, when engaged by someone in matters pertaining to rare books would speak directly to the issue, often imparting some insight or acerbic observation. He could also be dismissive if so inclined. Before introducing myself, I took ample time to study this tall, self assured person who was clearly the nexus of authority in the establishment. This tentative approach has served me best in all my dealings with Peter over the ensuing years.
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Booksellers Worldwide

If there is a heaven for rare books, it's like Serendipity Books - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
"There are rare books all the way up to the ceiling, so absurdly far up (like 27 feet or something) that they are almost guaranteed to never come down. In addition to the shelves, both fixed and (apparently) movable, there are piles of books. Everywhere. There are paper bags and paper bags and paper bags filled with books, on the floor and in the aisles, and there are cabinets filled with prints and folios and ephemera and beetles and god knows what else..." "This is the single most amazing place I have ever been! When I dream about getting lost in a maze of forgotten books... this is what it looks like."
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Booksellers Worldwide

The Los Angeles Book Fair's New Dealers

Published on 09 July 2010
The February 2010 Los Angeles Book Fair was a lovely fair with a chance for all of us to see old friends and colleagues. What was different this year was that there were quite a few new dealers. Impossible, people say ... the antiquarian book trade is dying with us old folks. If you think that, then you didn't come to the Los Angeles Book Fair where I got to talk to quite a few new dealers while Gordon took some pictures. I chatted with dealers who were very positive about being in the book trade and about being at the Los Angeles fair at the Century Plaza, an historic hotel located in Los Angeles' wealthy west side. I was also interested in hearing from the new dealers about how the "old" dealers treated them and everyone I spoke with (with some exceptions not chronicled here) thought they were very welcomed by the experienced dealers. I wanted the new dealers to speak for themselves and so some of the comments here are from questions I asked and some are in answer to how they felt about the Los Angeles fair.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

ILAB History

Barbara Kaye Muir

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers - ILAB to English-speaking members, LILA to the French-speaking - came into being the following day. Its constitution, drawn up by the ten presidents, was approved by the general assembly, its officers and executive committee duly elected. Its birth had not been easy, the labor had been protracted, and it would suffer growing pains for years to come; but it was a wanted child, and the Danes saw to it that its christening was suitably celebrated.
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BUDAPEST 2016 - ILAB CONGRESS & INTERNATIONAL ANTIQUARIAN BOOK FAIR

In two weeks time, booksellers from all over the world will gather in Budapest at the 42nd ILAB Congress and the 26th ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair.
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On the Blog - Provenance in Pictures: Tracking the Ownership of Three Early Printed Books

"Last week a group of Melbourne bibliophiles were treated to a delightful talk by preeminent bookman Nicolas Barker, editor of The Book Collector since 1965, and whose bibliography records an impressive 1,000+ entries. Barker examined twenty or so works from Special Collections and talked to the salient points of each book. This post highlights three of the selected items that had multiple signs of ownership, all of which caught Barker's eye."
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Paul Foster Books. First Catalogue 1993

Yesterday I received several boxes, from my Printer, containing my latest Catalogue. It is always an exciting time for a bookseller. Months of hard work, buying, researching and cataloguing the books, not to mention proof reading and checking photo images, have gone into this one little volume, and it is as near to publishing as most book dealers ever get. This latest catalogue is a selection of the more interesting items I have bought recently, listing 190 books over 48 text pages and with a sixteen page colour section full of photographs in the middle, the whole lot wrapped in colour printed, gloss finished, covers. It is a modest little booklet by some standards, but when I compare it to the catalogues I was producing back in the 1990's it seems a world away. My business, and my catalogues, have seen remarkable advances in technology over the last 20 years.
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ILAB Goes DADA at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April 2016

Right there, where words were formed to Dada performances celebrating literacy in its very literal and sometimes highly absurd sense a hundred years ago, the Swiss booksellers will hold an ILAB Pop Up Book Fair on UNESCO World and Copyright Day to celebrate literacy once again with (maybe) more Dada performances, (certainly) a great show of rare books and (definitely) a gorgeous fundraising to help UNESCO's Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) fill the empty book-shelves in the schools of South Sudan.
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Article

5 Questions - Gonzalo Fernandez Pontes of Pontes Maps

Gonzalo Fernandez Pontes became the president of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), an international body with 1800 affiliates, in 2016. He undertakes his duties alongside running his shop, Pontes Maps, which opened in Madrid in 1991.
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