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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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ALAI History

ALAI History 1947-2011

Published on 26 May 2018
On an autumn day in 1947, a small group of book dealers met in Milan to give life to the Circolo dei Librai Antiquari. They were not many, but they were set on granting a cultural dignity to the trade of antiquarian bookselling, on fostering friendship and understanding with foreign colleagues, on cooperating with libraries and institutions for the conservation of cultural property, and on providing collectors with a code of ethics that guaranteed a fair and professional relationship between rare book dealers and their customers. In 1971, the members of the association had increased to a few dozen when the Circle became the Associazione Librai Antiquari d'Italia. The history of the ALAI, the Italian Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, by:
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

John Carter's ABC for Book Collectors

Like all good reference books, the ABC for Book Collectors conveys much in a little, sets limits to its subject and keeps within them, and — saving grace — treats that subject with individuality as well as authority, in a style at once concise, forthright and witty.
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Article

Printed Matters: or why own books?

"Books? Why would I want to own a book? They take up space and gather dust, they're a pain to carry if I move; oh, and I can always get the text from the Internet ..." Well, at the moment, you often can; but it may not always work like that.
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Article

Field of Booksellers

"This time in 2006, I had been a book dealer for only two years. I had come to bookselling, not exactly by accident (I had been worked in bookstores off and on for the better part of ten years), but rather as a way to fill some time while I stayed at home with my then-four-year-old daughter. The business (such as it was) was very much a part-time venture. I had about 1000 books that I'd managed to scare up from library fundraisers, thrift stores, Craigslist, and garage and estate sales. I kept them in banker's boxes crammed into several closets around the house. I didn't really know any other booksellers and had little in way of a reference library. I sold only online. Most of my books were either modern firsts or university press titles, and every day or so one or two sold via ABE or Amazon. I dutifully packed up in salvaged boxes or homemade ad-hoc packages. I made a little spending money, no more really." "Cultivating the trade for future generations" - Brian Cassidy explains why Rare Book Schools or the Colorade Antiquarian Book Seminar are inevitable for young booksellers.
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Article

BOOKS GO LIVE! – The London International Antiquarian Book Fair

The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association's London International Antiquarian Book Fair features a range of special activities in the LIVE! zone at this year's fair which will be held at the National Hall, Olympia from Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th June 2013. They proudly present a variety of events: Lectures, Guided Tours and workshops, which will appeal to experienced collectors and bibliophiles as well as those just starting out.
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Article

Monster Gathering of Rare Book Lovers - California International Antiquarian Book Fair

From February 9 - 11, 2018, Southern California hosts the
nation’s largest rare book exhibition as thousands of book lovers, booksellers, and scholars converge at the 51st California International Antiquarian Book Fair.
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Article

The Smell of Books - "Experimental Historic Preservation"

Back in 2009 we reported about a project and group of scientists who tried to prove that one can determine the age and condition of a book by its smell. Now eight years later, the New York Times has just released an article about "The Smell of Books" and the "experimental historic preservation" class at Columbia University around professor Jorge Otero-Pailos. What keeps us fascinated by the smell of a library? Does the smell of old books let us travel in time or can it bring back memories? New York's Morgan Library opened for this experiment. Do we need to preserve the smell of books in our digital age?
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