ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade

  • [+] More New York - Promoter Predicts Catastrophe in 2015 

    New York - Promoter Predicts Catastrophe in 2015
    Published since 08 Apr 2014

    As if to compensate for the ever-increasing expense and physical difficulty of this event, the material on display this year was better than I've ever seen it. Books, maps, and manuscripts were dazzling. And, not to put too fine a point on it, the bucks were flowing. No one I spoke to had a ruinous fair, and even the people with only "so so" results were talking sums well into five figures. So, for almost all exhibitors at the big show, it was "mission accomplished." ...

  • [+] More Decisions, Decisions - 54th Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair 

    Decisions, Decisions - 54th Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair
    Published since 02 Apr 2014

    This is always a rough week for me. The New York International Antiquarian Book Fair is hauling into view (April 2-6), and there are decisions to be made. What stays? What goes? It's the biggest fair on the circuit and it has the greatest upside in terms of profit potential and meeting new customers. It's also the most expensive of the American fairs, and big city livin' is a real drain on the pocket book.

  • [+] More Computers, or: the tough life of an antiquarian bookseller, part 1 and 2 

    Computers, or: the tough life of an antiquarian bookseller, part 1 and 2
    Published since 11 Mar 2014

    My new computer is scheduled to arrive sometime next week. Maybe. Meanwhile I’ve been making do. The big screen in the illustration above is the monitor for my mortally ill computer, which can only run filemaker. So I catalog my books on that one, but slowly, or it’ll freeze up. The little netbook is my Internet access – google, OCLC, ViaLibri and the like – also done slowly, since it’s only got 2 megs of ram. (Just by way of comparison, my new machine will be delivered with 8 gigsof ram.) And the droid, of course, is for quick emails, texting, and other attempts to reach out from computer hell. - Greg Gibson about the tough technical life of an antiquarian bookseller.

  • [+] More Buying Things That Don’t Exist 

    Buying Things That Don’t Exist
    Published since 11 Feb 2014

    Greg Gibson, back from the 47th California International Antiquarian Book Fair: "I buy things that don’t exist to sell to people who don’t know they want them. The doors open and in they come – book junkies, bargain hunters, time wasters, braggarts, old friends, and my lovely librarians and collectors and colleagues, in search of things they don’t know they want. Material that, until the moment of its discovery, did not exist. That’s what I’m here to do. This is my place in the scheme of things."

  • [+] More Rare Book Dealers - Bank On It 

    Rare Book Dealers - Bank On It
    Published since 29 Jan 2014

    I taught at CABS (Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar) a few years ago, once as the featured specialist dealer, and once pinch hitting for Rob Rulon-Miller.  I went there thinking it would be like a week in summer camp – book stories, hikes, and handicrafts. I came away deeply impressed with the level of commitment on the part of the faculty, the seriousness with which they took their roles as instructors, and the level of information, all of it useful, imparted during that intense week in Colorado Springs. We trained for books with the same intensity as the Olympic athletes who trained  just down the street.

  • [+] More Can Your Kindle Do This? 

    Can Your Kindle Do This?
    Published since 16 Dec 2013

    John Ledyard is a strange and fascinating American original. In 1772 he attended Eleazer Wheelock’s Indian School, which would later become Dartmouth College. Unhappy there, he went off with the Indians. When spring rolled around he built himself an Indian-style dugout canoe, threw a bearskin around his shoulders, and sailed down the Connecticut River to his people in Hartford. Several adventures later he accompanied Captain Cook on this third voyage and was present when Cook was killed in the Sandwich Islands.

  • [+] More Chittering Hordes – All Around the 37th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair 2013 

    Chittering Hordes – All Around the 37th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair 2013
    Published since 19 Nov 2013

    They were everywhere. Squealing, chittering hordes of them. Not as disgusting as crack house roaches or subway rats; vaguely humanoid in fact, with their funny knitted hats, backpacks, discrete piercings, and plastic communications devices dangling from their ears. Utterly self-absorbed, concentrating intently on posting the next YouTube video of their friends in line at Starbuck’s. I’m talking, folks, about teenagers.

  • [+] More Cataloguing Rare Books – Sh*t Explosion 

    Cataloguing Rare Books – Sh*t Explosion
    Published since 06 Nov 2013

    Still too gimpy to drive across the state, so I was skipping the Albany Book Fair that weekend. But Dan Gaeta, who was doing the show, called to tell me about an interesting item he’d found.  It’s nice to have friends! (Dan operates John Bale Book Co., a café and book shop in Waterbury, CT. Talk about a simple but effective website, check ou t John Bale Books) Anyway, since I’ve been home all week, grumpily compiling my next catalog, and since I don’t have a book fair to report on, I thought I’d talk a little about my catalogs.

  • [+] More The Rare Book Trade - Fresh Carpets 

    The Rare Book Trade - Fresh Carpets
    Published since 22 Oct 2013

    Recently, on the Internet discussion lists of the two biggest bookselling trade groups -  IOBA and ABAA  -  I’ve been reading disheartening reports. Sales are down. Postage is up. And the big listing sites like AMAZON, ABE and Alibris are raising fees, reducing service and enforcing increasingly byzantine procedures aimed at making it easier and more profitable for them rather than the book dealers who patronize them. Sounds like the way gun nuts talk about their Second Amendment rights. Python coils, and all that. Louis Collins, however, is doing just fine.

  • [+] More Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Original “Big Book” 

    Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Original “Big Book”
    Published since 18 Oct 2013

    In the “random” (this week’s nomination for a word that’s been misused to death) way typical of buying trips, last week’s journey through  Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia yielded some interesting and unexpected finds. But the biggest purchase, and I mean biggest, was John Scott Russell’s Modern System of Naval Architecture. The book, in three large folio volumes, measures 20 ½  x 27 ½ inches and weighs in at well over 120 pounds. I’ve sold three or four copies over the years. Once I had to mail one. Took me all day to wrap it.