ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
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.
Published since 19 Feb 2013
"We’ve been doing this for nearly thirty years, and it’s still a thrill to step off the airplane into sunny skies and balmy air (when we're on the ground, I mean). This year, in particular, exchanging snow drifts for temperatures in the 70s has been a blessing. ... Those who did attend seemed eager and relatively well informed, with a good percentage of patrons in the under-forty age group. Promoter Lynne Winslow reports that age group discounts, liberal pass distribution and Facebook/Twitter activism have helped bring them in. People in that demographic did much more looking than buying, but my colleagues are always willing to invest a few years in outreach and education. These people are our future." Greg Gibson's California book fair review.
Published since 14 Dec 2012
I’ve ranted before about lighthouses being one of those subject areas from which collectors have mysteriously vanished. People scrabbling and clawing in the most fearsome way for lighthouse literature and then one day, more or less out of the blue, they don’t want any at all. Not even the rarest material. I suspect that in this case, eBay and print-on-demand technology killed the market. The field was largely information driven, and once people got access to cheap reprints or bargain copies of scarce texts, the game was over for dealers like me.
Published since 23 Oct 2012
Ann Thornton the female sailor and Sophia Johnson the friendless orphan are interesting in that their stories employ the same sequence of events that befell Elizabeth Emmons – personal tragedy, followed by cross dressing, followed by physical impairment. (Note Sophia Johnson's missing right arm.) Then there was Mary Lacy, “The Female Shipwright” who served four years at sea and seven years at Portsmouth Dock Yard in England, disguised as a man. Mary had a taste for young girls, and ascribed her troubles to a fondness for dancing with men - making for a delicious double reverse. However, the classic expression of this theme in American literature is the story of Louisa Baker, the Female Marine.
Published since 06 Jul 2012
"I have come to realize that these people are not “Librarians.” They’re smart, enthusiastic, creative men and women, who get as much of a kick out of what they’re doing as we booksellers get from what we do. And with budget cuts, staff reductions, and monstrously increased workloads leaving them less time to pour over quotes and catalogs, our responsibilities as dealers change. Our abilities to locate material and to place it within its historical context can be of great benefit in collection development, especially if we know who we’re working with, and what they’re working on."
Published since 20 Apr 2012
A colleague approached me on the floor of the New York Book Fair and asked if I’d composed this week’s blog yet. I told him I had not. He kindly offered to write it for me himself. It’d be a snap, he said – first the obligatory picture of booksellers slouched around the bar at Donohue’s, then a photo of an unhappy dealer at set-up, surrounded by more books than he had room for, a shot of the eager line at opening, and two or three more showing people in the act of purchasing things. Add a funny story about something that happened to one of our colleagues, and a picture, with price and description, of a really neat item that I bought at the show, and it’d be done.
Published since 05 Apr 2012Books sit squarely on shelves. They are discrete, replicable units. They have titles, authors, and places and dates of publication. They organize nicely into classes – “fiction” and “non-fiction,” for example. There is agreed-upon language to describe condition, and there are bibliographical references that talk about the history and physical makeup of a book.
Published since 06 Jan 2012
When my accountant said, “Hey, you’ve had another good year,” my response was, “You’ve got to be kidding!” But then, looking back, I remembered some happy referrals, several fascinating consignments and, in general, quite a bit of successful book scouting. Ten Pound Island’s invoices and check stubs (all digital!) told the story in detail. My "new business model," concocted so painfully over the past year, paid off. I dropped the California, Florida, and New York book fairs, cut expenses way back, moved from hard copy to web based catalogs, and quoted a lot more books using specially tailored, richly illustrated e-based catalogs.