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ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
Published since 03 Jul 2014
Where do you start with a place like Vegas? Bally's Hotel and Casino is hosting the 2014 Moose International convention and dealing with a chronic shortage of aquatic plant life, willow shoots, and other forage. Hairy guys with backwards baseball caps. Old men and their leisurewear. Fatties in mobile chairs work away, tethered to slot machines. A Bally's credit card at the other end of the line drips the money in and out. The tether prevents the card from being stolen, lost, or forgotten. Sorry, sir, no photographs. What is the plural of Moose ? Do the International Moose employ it?
Published since 11 Jun 2014
Back in the Stone Age, which is where I'm from, if you made your living in the used book trade, you had a shop or you worked in one. Oh, there were a few people who were smart enough to make their livings as book scouts – selling quality material to dealers and institutions – or organized enough to run mail order search services, which found obscure tomes for customers and quoted books to want ads in places like AB Magazine. Most of us, though, had open shops. These places served as many functions as we owners could contrive - social centers, store rooms, tax writeoffs, financial burdens, places of escape and, of course, the base of operations for whatever book scouting or mail order we might do to supplement our off-the-street incomes.
Published since 03 Jun 2014
What could be more mysterious than the irresistible signals sent by the turning of the seasons? Now the days lengthen as the sun proceeds toward its summer destiny. The lilac has come into bloom and faded. The shad bush has leafed out. Alewives struggle upstream, and elvers wriggle down to the sea. The IRS has been paid, the soldiers honored, and the peas planted. Like a salamander crawling out of the muck, I obey nature's call and head north – part of a transhumance that has been taking place since the beginning of bookseller chronicles. It's time for another New Hampshire book fair.
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." ...
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.
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.
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.