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