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ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
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.
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.
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.
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.
Published since 16 Aug 2013
This recollection leads me to wonder what I ever did – when I absolutely had to know something – before Google? That godly search engine and its equally marvelous repository of information, Wikipedia, have become so pervasive in our lives it’s hard to remember what the world was like without them. But if I think about it really hard (this is precisely the sort of answer I cannot Google), long shelves of encyclopedias come to mind. The Americana and the Colliers sets of my youth were sources of lots of cool info, like how to make gunpowder, but they were woefully short on facts about girls and sex.
Published since 16 Jul 2013
It’s a thrilling experience, a rite of passage into the trade. A member of the public thinks so highly of your skills as a book maven, (or your status as a cash cow), that they invite you into their private space to examine, and make an offer on, their books. You get to walk around pronouncing on the current state of the market, on what’s hot and what’s not, all the while maintaining an ingratiating stream of patter that, you hope, will convince the owner that you’re a sage and trustworthy expert.
Published since 24 Jun 2013
How many ways are there to do this business? Here is my old friend Adrian Connolly of Connolly’s Book Shop, Cork City,Ireland ... Adrian once told me he buys his books by the pallet load from a jobber in London. Like bales of rags. He then prices them at € 3 - € 10 and shelves them. All day people wandering through the busy Paul Street square, or shopping at the adjacent Tesco supermarket drift into his shop, spot a book they’ve never seen before, and purchase it. There are many books on Adrian's shelves that people have never seen before, because most of them expired and disappeared very soon after publication.
Published since 22 May 2013
How to identify a rare book? "I got stumped last week, trying to catalog a book I’d recently purchased. It was the first full length biography of the American naval hero James Lawrence, and it was supposed to be 244 pages long. However, my copy seemed complete at page 240, which ended with the word “finis.” I must’ve spent an hour pouring through my reference books trying to reconcile the discrepancy. I had a dim recollection of the pagination issue being explained to me by the gentleman from whom I’d purchased the book. But I couldn’t remember the details, and I couldn’t piece it together from the bibliographies ..."
Published since 30 Apr 2013
Meanwhile, back at the Armory, setup for the 53rd Annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair was proceeding smoothly. And, I am happy to report, the show opened to what felt like record crowds. I think reduced opening night admission and a more generous free ticket policy had a noticeable effect. Unfortunately, sales did not match the crowd size. By Sunday afternoon, almost all the dealers I spoke with reported decent, but not spectacular, fairs.
[+] More The Old Turk’s Load – Greg Gibson will sign his new novel at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair
Published since 11 Apr 2013
Greg Gibson – rare book dealer, proprietor of Ten Pound Island Book Company, ABAA member, and a distinguished author – has just released his new noir crime novel “The Old Turk’s Load”. The story, which takes place in 1967 Manhattan, is highly praised by the New York Journal of Books. Greg will be exhibiting at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend and will be signing copies of his new novel, with all profits going to the ABAA’s Benevolent Fund. In his blog Bookman’s Log he writes about the fair, his novel and New York in the Sixties and today.