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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

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Australian Angling Books

Collecting Angling books has wide appeal, and not just for folk that fish. Many of the intrinsic characteristics of angling – solitude, meditative activity, excitement of the chase, celebration of the natural world – are also reflected in the collecting endeavour. Early literature with an Australian angling connection extends back to 1880, with the book Vacation Tours in New Zealand and Tasmania, by James Coutts.
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Booksellers

Barbara Grigor-Taylor

“The only difficulty I've ever had in my life is keeping up with myself.” Barbara Grigor-Taylor is a trans-oceanic sailor, mountaineer and travel bookseller of inter Continental experience. She is no armchair traveller, and little has fallen into her lap. It has been a hard but exhilarating career with some daunting ups and downs which Barbara has negotiated with the agility of a mountaineer. “If someone puts a brick wall in front of me, I'll go over it.”
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Article

Diamonds are a Rare Bookseller’s Best Friend

Don't judge a book by its cover. Sometimes it is worth more than you think. An antiquarian bookseller in Dunedin, New Zealand, found real treasures between the covers.
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Article

Collecting Raymond Chandler

Chandler's first four novels in fine jackets The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The High Window (1942), and The Lady in the Lake (1943), are the book collecting equivalent of big game.
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Article

From the ILAB Archives - The League and the German Antiquarian Booksellers' Association

Today, the German Antiquarian Booksellers' Association or "Verband Deutscher Antiquare" (VDA) is one of the largest national organizations which belong to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. The VDA was founded in 1949. Its first president was Helmuth Domizlaff, an antiquarian bookseller in Munich and a close friend of Percy H. Muir (UK), August Laube (Switzerland) and Christian Nebehay (Austria). One of the reasons of the founding of the German Association was that the antiquarian booksellers in Germany wanted to be a part of ILAB – at that time, shortly after World War II, a delicate matter.
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Article

Dreaming on the Edge - An Interview with Alastair Johnston

"Over the years I have learned more and more about Auerhahn, White Rabbit, Zephyrus Image — small presses about whom I've have published bibliographies — also Semina magazine, Everson and Waldport, plus printers Graham Mackintosh and Dave Haselwood. Jack Stauffacher, who is now in his 90s, and the poets Philip Whalen and Joanne Kyger would relate to me personal stories or anecdotes which I stored away." An Interview with Alastair Johnston, Author of 'Dreaming on the Edge: Poets and Book Artists in California'.
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