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ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
Published since 13 May 2013
Having thought about it though, it did occur to me that the real problem with that Treasure Detectives malarkey was not even the fact that they had no clue what they were on about … more the fact that to someone “normal” it would be really hard to tell. If I were wandering the earth all besotted with books and suddenly had a windfall from a mysterious Romanian Great Uncle I’d never previously heard of, and I wanted to start collecting books … how would I go about it? First … there are rules. They are for you, and like all of the best rules, they are rules that don’t just apply to book collecting.
Published since 28 Feb 2013
As far as successful British 19th Century writers were concerned Charles Dickens was the commercial equivalent of J. K. Rowling. He was huge, without doubt the most popular novelist of his time and place. There are numerous possible reasons for his overwhelming popularity, but one deciding factor would be the broad nature of his readership. He wrote for everyone, and he did it at a shilling a go.
Published since 02 Oct 2012
We’ve established that some people don’t view books as valuable because they’re a little difficult to get your head around. To civilians the reasoning behind why one hundred year old book can be verging on priceless and another hovering just this side of worthless can be obscure, seemingly arbitrary and maddeningly opaque. Even when the rationale is explained it often doesn’t help. Often what the rare book trade does is take an object with a clearly identifiable function and then deny the object the exercise of its function as a result of financial value. One of the things I hear most often is “If I owned that book I’d be afraid to touch it.” I usually respond to this by pointing out that the book in question is four hundred years old, has survived untold wars, plagues and natural disasters in its journey to our hands and is probably a lot tougher than me … not to mention prettier and more useful. This strikes people as strange.
[+] More IAN FLEMING: THE BIBLIOGRAPHY - Late October launch announced by Adrian Harrington Ltd. and Queen Anne Press
Published since 10 Sep 2012
A comprehensive 750-page guide to the work of Ian Fleming, one of the 20th century’s greatest thriller writers and creator of the world’s most famous spy, Special Agent 007. Covering everything from the first draft of “Casino Royale” in 1952 to editions still in print today, “Ian Fleming: The Bibliography” is not only an indispensable source of information for collectors, enthusiasts, libraries and booksellers alike, but an entertaining and informative volume that will appeal to anyone interested in the James Bond phenomenon. The guide will be published in late October 2012 by Queen Anne Press – the literary impress once managed by Ian Fleming. The launch will coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the “Dr No” film and the premiere of “Skyfall”.
Published since 17 Jul 2012
For some reason (and this is what I’m thinking about, not how people don’t understand me and I must run off and play some Smiths), people are happy, ecstatic even to buy a car, or a watch, or a vase or a pair of shoes for enough money to feed me for six months … but when they look at a book; they don’t see it. It doesn’t say “You want me. I’m your treasure.” It doesn’t make them not want to eat for six months so they can own it ... Apart from feeling like I’d failed slightly, as if I’d somehow let down my vocation by not being able to represent it properly (a recurring theme), it occurred to me that my world is an arrogant one in many respects. Rare book people can often be like teenagers in love, they’ll burn the world down for the objects of their desire. Which made me ask; why? Why are we like this?
Published since 22 May 2012The June book fairs are mostly in May this year. The Antiquarian Bookdealers Association: Scheduling perversity a speciality since 1906. The Olympia International Antiquarian Book Fair (for which I am feverishly preparing, ie: shaving, because I have to speak to humans) begins on the 24th of May and ends upon the 26th. Full schedules, locations, lists of lectures etc. can be found here: Olympia Book Fair.
Published since 03 Apr 2012If there’s one thing you can guarantee it’s that the minute you think you’re being smart is the minute before you meet someone much smarter. One of the reasons I love my job so very, very much is that my minutes of being smart never last long enough to knock my self image out of whack. If I’m not meeting a customer whose breadth of knowledge and devotion has the least admirable parts of me reaching for a pitchfork and a torch then it’s one of my colleagues who is making me wish I could eat their head and consume their wisdom entire.
Published since 10 Jan 2012
That’s got that schmaltz out of the way … It’s 2012! If you’re of an excitable bent, then it’s the year the world ends according to the Mayan Calendar (or more likely when the Mayan Calendar ends according to the world). If you’re literary then it’s 200 years of Charles Dickens; the man who brought you Bah! Humbug!, spontaneous human combustion, a series of character archetypes that for good or ill (or as is more usual, both) have endured (and been endured) for a good century and a half, and a new, disturbing and moving understanding of what it might have been like to be poor and deprived at the height of the British Empire’s prosperity. Oh, and jolly fat people with odd names, can’t forget them.
Published since 27 Sep 2011
Book Sizes, also known as a book’s format, at first sight come across as a bit pointlessly arcane: Folio: Fo. or 2° (try and imagine the 2 as really big and the O as really small). Quarto: Qto. or 4to or even 4°. Octavo: Oct. or 8vo. Duodecimo: 12mo (usually spoken as twelvemo). Sextodecimo: 16mo (sixteenmo). Vicesimo-quarto: 24mo (twentyfourmo). Tricesimo-secundo: 32mo (thirtytwomo). They are the most commonly used. There are a myriad of variations within each theme “Crown Octavo”, “Elephant Folio” , “Royal Quarto”, “Small..”, “Squat..” etc. These are usually tied to bibliographical descriptions from SOMEONE OLD AND DISTINGUISHED tm. who wrote about this book eighty years ago and whose word has been taken ever since.
Published since 05 Sep 2011
“Dear Bibliodeviant, I miss you terribly. I long for those sultry evenings we spent in your simple, rustic lakeside retreat sipping Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and eating sweetmeats. Most of all I miss curling up on your ethically sourced Kilim rug in front of a roaring log fire while you told me those gloriously witty stories about how the printers misspelled “Wade” for “Wabe” in the first edition of Through The Looking Glass, or how bookdealers in the past have charged high prices for copies of the Time Machine that didn’t have Hall Caine’s The Manxman on the first page of advertisments. I yearn for you, and your thrilling tales of the swashbuckling world of the rare book trade. Return to me immediately, and talk to me of fine bindings! Monica”