ILAB Newsletters - Everything you need to know (or not to know) about the rare book trade
ILAB Newsletter 58, January 2007
Word from New President Michael Steinbach
Dear ILAB affiliates,
Please allow me extend to you, as the new ILAB President, my best wishes for the just started New Year, as well as health and success for you and for our trade.
What you are holding in your hands now is the first issue of a “mini-newsletter” with which we – the ILAB committee – want to establish closer and more frequent contact with our affiliates.We want to inform you in a more timely fashion about matters concerning our trade that are of interest to all of you. We are planning to publish this smaller Newsletter at least twice a year. It is one of my goals for the duration of my presidency to strengthen the ties between all of us by a better communication policy, and by facingand trying to solve together the formidable challenges that are currently facing our trade.
Over the past several years the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers has made impressive, and sometimes dramatic strides: creation of a website and database, the greater efficiency and usefulness of Security announcements, cooperation with CINOA, engagement on the Unesco and Unidroit Treaties, etc. Now, I think, it is time to consolidate and strengthen the initiatives that have been made in the past, while always being open to new ideas and changing developments in the trade.
The Internet and its search-engines have changed the methods and conventions of dealing in antiquarian books dramatically. These developments are unavoidable. However, we can react positively to the changing landscape by making a strong effort to further build up our own web presence by supporting and improving the ILAB search-engine and website, and by exhibiting to the outside world what most sophisticated collectors and research institutions already know, that ours is the only site (along with those of our affiliate national organizations) where collectors can buy with confidence from experienced and trustworthy professionals.
After the misfortune of the recently cancelled ILAB-Congress in Philadelphia it is one of our greatest concerns to make the next ILAB-Congress 2008 in Spain a rousing success. You will receive a preliminary schedule and program in the near future, so please consider participation at that time. From my own experience, and from the many comments I have received, I can only say that it is always worthwhile and memorable to be part of this event. No email, letter, or phone-call can substitute for the personal contacts that the Congress can provide. Many long-lasting business connections and even friendships have started at a Congress.
A questionnaire is inserted loosely into the newsletter with some introductory explanations. We strongly urge you to read it, fill it out, and return it as indicated. Your participation will be very useful for future consultations with official bodies, and for promoting the antiquarian book trade as an important part of the global economy.
I hope this new approach to sharing information on a timely basis will meet with your approval and you are very welcome to forward to us any comments and suggestions that you think would be useful.
With best regards
Michael Steinbach ILAB President
A Word about the Newsletter
In keeping with the ILAB Committee’s stated desire to establish more frequent communications with the membership, new President Michael Steinbach has charged the Newsletter editor with preparing a series of short Mini-Newsletters, of which this is the first. These will be distributed several times a year in the official languages of the League, English and French. However, national associations that would like to translate and distribute the Newsletters in other languages may upon request receive a computer file with the text of the Newsletter by contacting the editor at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Members interested in the full Minutes of the Delaware Presidents’ Meeting, which includes much additional information, including reports from the Treasurer, General Secretary, and Security Chairman, are urged to read or download the document on the Members Only section on the League’s website: www.ilab.org
New Officers and Members
The Presidents of the ILAB member nations, along with the ILAB Committee met in Wilmington, Delaware, USA on September 9th, after a day-long workshop on September 8th. At the meeting, among many other items of business, new ILAB officers were elected by the National Presidents.
Michael Steinbach of Germany was chosen to replace outgoing President Bob Fleck of the US; Adrian Harrington of Great Britain took Michael’s place as Vice President; and former committee member and Newsletter editor Arnoud Gerits of the Netherlands replaced Stephen Temple of Canada as General Secretary. Longtime Treasurer Poul Jan Poulsen of Denmark, and Committee member and Head of Security Paul Feain of Australia, continued in their respective places.
Additionally, three new members joined the committee: Tsukasa Maeda of Japan, Jean- Pierre Fouques of France, and Tom Congalton of the US. Completing their terms on the Committee were Georg Beran of Switzerland and Dieter Tausch of Austria. Our grateful thanks go to the outgoing Committee members. The new officers and members have exhibited a great deal of enthusiasm for the organization and their respective Committee assignments, and it is hoped that, as with most volunteer organizations, this enthusiasm will translate into further gains for the organization.
At the Delaware Presidents’ Meeting, a budget of $16,000 was passed after ILAB Vice President and Public Relations Committee Chairman Adrian Harrington unveiled an ambitious advertising campaign that the Committee hopes will be far more effective than the limited financial resources that the League has to devote to the effort. Most of the effort would be devoted to improving the visibility of both ILAB and its website.
Among the specific plans considered are a redesign of current ILAB advertising, and the purchase of advertising in relevant magazines, the funding of a permanent Google campaign, the organization of a “constant contact” email campaign, and the funding of an ILAB booth for book fairs and related exhibitions, including the cost of manning such a booth.
Additionally, the campaign calls for the design and production of bookmarks and posters, and the eventual addition of additional languages to the website, which currently provides information in English, French, German, and Chinese.
The Committee has moved forward on several of these initiatives, with the Google campaign beginning at the start of 2007 and with any luck, about the time you receive this Newsletter, your national affiliates will be buried under an avalanche of posters and bookmarkers.
Final Report of Outgoing President Bob Fleck
The following remarks are excerpted from outgoing ILAB President Bob Fleck’s final President’s Report delivered at the Delaware Presidents’ Meeting. The full text of his remarks can be found in the Minutes section of the Members Only section of www.ilab.org:
ILAB started life as a Federation of countries that had very little need to take any centralized action to survive. Times have now changed. Bookselling has now changed. The new electronic world has had a major impact in our lives for both good and bad. There are many who are saddened by this change as they see their old ways of doing business becoming obsolete. They see an entire cultural shift away from the books that make up the foundation of our business and do not have the will or energy to change with these new times.
They are the pessimists. I am the optimist.
I see ILAB in the perfect position to launch itself successfully in this new world. We have built a much better foundation for ourselves than any of the other dealer organizations selling books, art or antiques. The last decade has seen ILAB redefine its rules and regulations for the new century, develop an excellent website which is still the only site protected by the ethical standards of an organization, outreach to the important library and book organizations as THE international bookselling organization – in summary take many steps on an international level, a centralized level, that will allow us to grow into the future. The last decade has seen an increasingly important role for the Committee of ILAB as the Presidents continue to better fund centralized plans of action and expect an aggressive and willing Committee to accomplish them. I believe that it is the organization known as ILAB rather than individual countries that has the best chance to promote itself to an outside world as the Internet makes country boundaries disappear. ILAB’s challenge will be to constantly find Presidents and Committee members who have the will to move ILAB, as an organization, forward.
For those of you who think that the cultural shift away from books will end our profession, I see things differently. There will always be a market for the books that we sell as they are not just texts, they are artifacts to be touched, smelled and handled with love. In my own business I see a large number of people who have revolted against the TV and computer screen and are returning to the handcrafts of printing, binding, papermaking, illustration. It isn’t only the text that is important; it is the text as presented to the reader with all the subtleties of an artifact. Text as text will soon be electronically available – our books will not.
I feel much honoured to have served you all as President for these last four years. I will continue to serve when called with pleasure as you are not only colleagues, you have become friends as well – and that is what ILAB is all about.
Website Statistics & Google Campaign
President Michael Steinbach recently reported new www.ilab.org website statistics provided by Rockingstone. These statistics represent a considerable increase in traffic over the past ten months. At the Presidents’ Meeting in Delaware an additional advertising budget of $16,000 was approved, with a large part of this devoted to a new Google advertising campaign. Additionally, Rockingstone has agreed to make a 350 euro per month contribution to this campaign. The Committee expects considerable additional growth when the new Google campaign begins. We have found, in the past, that this has been a very effective way of driving additional traffic to the website.
Full statistics can be found as part of the Minutes in the Members Only section of the ILAB website, but to summarize, during the ten months starting in January, 2006, there was an 186% increase in unique visits to the site; an overall increase of 243% in visits generated from Google.
In January, 2006, 5,351 people had the ILAB website in their favorites; by October, the number had risen to 14,564, for a total increase of 272%. In the same time period, searches of the booksellers database increased 153%.
While sales remained steady over that period, a decided shift occurred with more searches originating from the ILAB site, and fewer originating from Addall and Bookfinder. One sales tool employed has been a hidden link on the website that links to a static version of the web-site, increasing the chances of a Google search. In addition, the database has been installed and migrated to new Dell servers, allowing easier maintenance. The site runs on two servers, providing greater backup, as well as improving search speed. One peripheral note, Rockingstone reports that the number of visitors to the site from China has grown dramatically.
Rockingstone is also poised to announce incentives for dealers who do not already participate in the ILAB search engine early in 2007. Only by working together can we continue to shine out in a world of large commercial Internet search engines such as ABE, eBay, et al. The ILAB website (as well as those of its national organizations) is unique in the world for being run exclusively for the benefit of its customers and dealers and charging and receiving no commission.
Notice on Membership Updates
In the past, the ILAB-LILA Newsletter has announced changes of address, telephone number, and other relevant contact information for members of affiliate nations. Because of limitations of space and the relative infrequency of publication, we will no longer makes such announcements. Members are encouraged, rather they are urged, to make their own changes to their information on their personal page of the ILAB website. This can be accomplished through the following method:
1) Log onto www.ilab.org
2) On the upper righthand side of the home page, click on the “booksellers only” link.
3) Enter your username and password in the appropriate fields. If you have forgotten your username and password, you can either contact your national association or Rockingstone (by email: email@example.com)
4) You then reach a page of “welcome to your personal ILAB page” containing news, and on the left hand column, a list of links: mainpage, upload books, view orders, personal, help pages, downloads, stolen books. Just click on the “personal”link.
5) The page you have reached is called “Edit your information.” It contains a first paragraph which summarizes the information you have entered in the fields further down the page. In order to change any of the information contained in this first paragraph, all you have to do is go to the relevant field, change the information, then scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click on the “submit” button.
6) A special note concerning the ILAB specialties for the directory: half way down the page, you will find a square with a scroll down menu of specialties for the ILAB directory; these specialties are not the ones which appear in the first paragraph of your personal page; it is specific for the directory and they do not appear anywhere on the website for customers to see. This list is not very detailed, but it easily allows for the creation of an index. In this list, you can select up to seven specialties: just click on any specialty while holding down the control button of your computer. If, by mistake, you click on one specialty without holding down the control button, this will cancel all the specialties of your previous selection, so be very careful in order not to end up in the directory with “women” if you are dealing in “religion and philosophy.” When you have finished, don’t forget to click on the “submit” button at the very bottom of the page.
A note to the national associations: Please remember that only Rockingstone can delete a member from the database. When a member resigns or passes away, please ask firstname.lastname@example.org to delete the relevant entry. However, it is the responsibility of the national association to add new members, and of informing new members on how to access their information with their username and password.
ABA Celebrates Its Centenary
2006 marks the 100th Anniversary of the foundation of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association in Great Britain. The year long celebration has included a gala ball in London, a Christmas Party, publication of the book Out of Print and Into Profit, commemorating the British rare book trade, as well as a special edition of their annual cricket match where our creaky and superannuated ABA colleagues will once again lose to their younger PBFA rivals.
To commemorate the anniversary at the Delaware Presidents’ Meeting, outgoing President Bob Fleck presented ABA President Robert Frew with a gavel from ILAB.
ILAB Represented at CINOA Meetings
ILAB has established contacts with CINOA (International Confederation of Fine Art and Antique Dealers’ Associations). This is an organization much like our own ILAB and structured in more or less the same way, but they are much larger than we are, they are richer, and they employ lawyers. They also face a number of problems or threats that are identical to ILAB’s: EU regulations, Droit de Suite, implementation of UNESCO’s rules with regards to illicit export, Unidroit, etc. In short, CINOA and ILAB share common values, aims necessary access codes. and concerns.
An ILAB representative was present at CINOA’s annual congress in Utrecht in June this year and gave a short presentation of ILAB and its history. At this General Assembly of CINOA, market reports from all members were read and discussed: each national association produced a summary of the national market and national developments as well as a bird’s-eye view of current developments and current expectations. These market reports are produced by the national associations themselves, with little expense involved in producing these reports. These reports provide interesting and sometimes even fascinating reading and the ILAB committee has decided to request such reports from the Presidents of the National Associations as it believes that this exchange of information may prove to be very interesting and useful. The ILAB committee also decided to exchange letters of intent in which we state our desire for a stronger collaboration. Both organizations believe that continued collaboration will prove to be useful and beneficial for both. – Arnoud Gerits
On the 24 August 2006, Paul Feain, ILAB Security Chairman, attended the meeting of the International Federation of Library Associations’ Congress in Seoul, South Korea in order to discuss the prevention of theft of library books and how each organization could assist the other in recovering books stolen from libraries.
Paul informed them of the ILAB stolen books database and told them that national, state, and academic libraries could access our database by contacting the President of the Booksellers Association in their country who would arrange the necessary access codes.
Paul also reported that ILAB had a direct link to the list of books discovered stolen from the Royal Library of Copenhagen and that if any Library wished to have a similar link they should contact him as the Security Chair of ILAB.
The IFLA committee held some debate on the feasibility of creating their own database of stolen books. They determined to further investigate this issue and hoped to recommend to their organization that such a step be taken. Paul informed them of Rockingstone’s involvement in creating the ILAB stolen books database and provided them with Rockingstone’s contact details.
Paul further informed the meeting that it would be possible to list books stolen from their affiliates on our database, but that it was a time consuming process and not possible to enter large numbers of entries unless we came to an arrangement where they entered the books on the database form and that these entries were approved by the ILAB Security Chair. Both the ILFA and ILAB participants agreed to continue these discussions, and we look forward to greater cooperation and coordination between the two groups in the future.
The second edition of the ILAB Directory should be available shortly. ILAB contracted in 2004 with Publications UK to provide four-color printed Directories, the costs to be covered by the sale of advertising to our members. The first Directory was attractive and professional looking, and we have received some evidence that it has been effective as a selling tool, but additionally there have been several com Biblioplaints. Among these have been that some individual dealer’s business information is obsolete, the volume is too large to conveniently carry around while traveling, the listing and indexing of member firms is inconsistent, and that the type is not easily readable.
Keeping membership information accurate on the website and for the printed Directory continues to be a problem for ILAB and many of its member nations. Ultimately, providing accurate personal information is the responsibility of each ILAB affiliate member. The Directory compiles its information from the ILAB website, and if that information is incorrect, it logically follows that your information in the Directory will be incorrect. See the Notice on Membership Updates (page 3) for advice on keeping your business information accurate.
In response to the complaints about the bulky size of the Directory, our Executive Secretary has negotiated with Publications UK to provide a more portable, pocket-sized version of the Directory, which will be printed at no charge to our members.
Business names for members, as they often include personal names, often provide dilemmas when listing or indexing, and unfortunately, Publications UK has not exhibited the expertise required to accurately address that task. Accordingly, N. Marsh has, with a great deal of time consuming and painstaking effort, been arranging the Directory and indexing the individual business names. Herself and the Committee continue to work with Publications UK in order to turn out an attractive,and increasingly useful Directory.
ILAB Members Honored
At the Delaware Presidents’ Meeting former President Kay Craddock, ILAB’s first woman president was unanimously elected ILAB President of Honor, a designation awarded to those who have provided service to the League beyond that of the normal course of their duties. Her remarks upon accepting the award can be found on the Booksellers only section of www.ilab.org
Additionally, Keith Fletcher was unanimously elected ILAB Member of Honor, joining Mitsuo Nitta as the only other living member to hold that honor. ILAB Member of Honor is awarded to those who have provided special service to the League over a long period of time.
Mr. Fletcher, who was not present at the Delaware meeting, received his honor at the ABA Chelsea Book Fair from ILAB President Michael Steinbach.
The winners of the 2006 International Prize for Bibliography were announced before two hundred guests at the ABA Centenary Ball held at the Royal Geographical Society in London. This year two winners split the $10,000 Prize. John Payne Collier: Scholarship and Forgery in the 19th Century by Arthur and Janet Freeman, shared the award with A Bibliography of 17th century Numismatic Books by Christian Dekesel. Additionally, the judges also nominated two books for their Specially Commended Award: Bernhard Fischer for Der Verleger Johann Friedrich Cotta, and David Griffiths’ Biblio graphy of the Book of Common Prayer. A full report on the ceremony can be found on the ILAB website.
The ILAB Committee is in the process of appointing new judges to replace the hardworking (one is tempted to add long-suffering) Raymond Kilgarriff who has done yeoman service as Prize Secretary. Additionally, Bob Fleck has made some progress in the attempt he has spearheaded to permanently endow the Fund. Hopefully, we’ll have additional news to report on this front in the not-too-distant future.
Also of note, the ABA has agreed to purchase the books submitted to the prize jury for consideration for the sum of £1500, and has generously agreed to open their reference library to any ILAB affiliate members that might find the need to use it.