“Amor Librorum Nos Unit” is the motto of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, ILAB, the international trade body for the rare book trade uniting booksellers across 36 countries. The motto has been quoted many times over the last few days and particularly the last few hours following an agreement with AbeBooks to reverse its decision to withdraw from a number of international markets.
By 6th November 2018, over 550 booksellers had sent their books "on vacation", pausing their listing on AbeBooks. The protest by rare booksellers worldwide resulted in an unprecedented echo in the media.
In response to AbeBooks' recent announcement to withdraw from several markets and the closure of booksellers' accounts by 30 November 2018, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association declines a sponsorship deal with the London Rare Book Fair "Firsts" in 2019.
From the scroll to the codex to the modern volume, the form of the book has evolved considerably over the centuries. And alongside that, our methods for keeping the pages together have also changed considerably. Today we enjoy a thriving world of designer and art bindings, collectible in their own right. We can thank figures like William Caxton, Jean Grolier, and Samule Mearne for bringing innovation and beauty to the craft of bookbinding.
Back to the roots: The Preliminary Conference, organized by the Dutch booksellers and initiated by the "Father of the League" Menno Hertzberger, was held in Amsterdam in the year 1947. In 1960, the ILAB delegates from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and USA returned to The Netherlands for their 13th Congress. They spent four fruitful and delightful days in Scheveningen, with excursions to the famous libraries and museums in Amsterdam and Den Haag. Jack Joseph, at that time ABA President and one of 51 (!) British delegates, resumed: "The harmony of this Congress had been perfect, due in part to two working days and two workless days, but in the main to the cordiality exemplified by the splendid feelings evinced by all."
We are rare book dealers and from the items we bought and sold over these decades, we had the opportunity to learn something about history, literature, art, life and the world (past and present). We realised that editing a text in English which should be read almost as an "historical tale" is a very hard job, something totally different from the usual bibliographic descriptions with our familiar technical terms. In any case, this pamphlet will be a much more comfortable way for you to share our history with us: let's say that this text was guided by the same "Italian passion" that we have been putting in our works for a century...