Newsletter 46 - March 1993
The 31st Congress of the ILAB - Köln, September 1992
Opening Speech of the President
Two years ago when we had assembled for our biennial congress, we discussed the eventual help we could give the University Library at Bucarest, which had been seriously damaged during the coup d’état.
Funds have been raised to help the library and since then thousands of tons of books and journals have been shipped to that library, some antiquarian, but primarily new books and journals. Major gaps in the material necessary for the courses and research projects could be filled.
While we come together now in the ancient city of Cologne, which from its foundation in about 38 BC to our modern times has played such an important role in European cultural life, another important European Library has been set on fire. In the Library of Sarajevo thousands of valuable manuscripts are in immediate danger or are already hopelessly lost: losses which are irreplaceable.
Under these circumstances it may seem difficult to hold a congress devoted to trade problems. Still we have to realize that our trade - if carried on with care and dignity - can contribute to the respect for printed and manuscript texts (and indeed for prints); that our catalogues and book fairs can contribute to the educations of new generations particularly with respect to the understanding of the importance and value of our cultural heritage.
The problems we will have to deal with during our meeting gain - if we realize this - a further dimension. Discussing our Rules and Usages & Customs is not merely a matter of practicality; it will help us to realize the responsibility we all have towards each other as well as towards the book-buying public. Discussing proper was to defend ourselves against theft is more than defending our just property, it is also a contribution to the confidence of collectors and librarians.
It is difficult to imagine how the antiquarian book trade would look if the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers had never been founded. Looking through the 45 numbers of our Newsletter - an exercise I had to do when preparing myself for this congress - shows clearly how the impact of our League on international contacts and intercourse has grown in volume as well as in depth. And it leaves no doubt that the positive effect of our League can hardly be overstated.
To maintain this impact, to improve our relationship, to protect what we have inherited from our predecessors and to contribute to a healthy future for our trade is the aim of our congress. I call on everyone of us to let our common interest prevail over personal interests and ambitions, and to keep our eyes fixed on that goal of common interest.
I wish you all a fruitful congress, and pleasant and stimulating entertainment during the social events, which as I can see already will not be difficult, thanks to our German hosts who have done everything possible to help us to cherish our friendship in the good spirit of our motto: AMOR LIBRORUM NOS UNIT.
5th September 1992, Dom-Hotel, Köln
Present: The President, Anton Gerits, in the Chair; Michael Reiss, Vice-President; Poul J. Poulsen, Hon. Treasurer; Raymond Kilgarriff; Gérard Oberlé; Frieder Kocher-Benzing, President of Honour; Anthony Rota, Past-President; Edgar Franco, Member of Honour.
1. Apologies were received from Helen Kahn, Bernard Rosenthal, and Bob de Graaf for their unavoidable absences. The President also announced he had received apologies, together with personal messages of good will and support, from Presidents of Honour Georges Deny, Fl. Tulkens, Hans Bagger and John Lawson.
Raymond Kilgarriff was appointed acting secretary for the Cologne meetings.
a. Matters raised by the President
Before proceeding with the Agenda, the President indicated the contents of the annual report he would be presenting to the National Presidents on the following day. He also raised two other matters.
i) Alleged Overpricing. Book Fair Tokyo 1990. A further policy statement was presented and, after full discussion, to which Past President Anthony Rota contributed, was formally adopted. It would be presented to the General Assembly and published in the Newsletter.
ii) Newsletter. Michael Reiss had resigned the editorship. The correspondence that had passed between him and the President was discussed. Helen Kahn’s letter concerning the Newsletter was read out. Mr. Reiss agreed to withdraw a letter concerning the matter which he had circulated to the German Association (VDA). The President reminded committee members that they surrendered their nationality when accepting committee places. They must remain neutral and independent of all national interests.
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting
Amendments proposed by B. Rosenthal and Mr. Reiss were noted, though not carried, and the Minutes were approved.
3. Hon. Treasurer’s Report
Accounts for the year August 1991-July 1992 had been circulated in advance. The Treasurer reported a generally satisfactory position. Funds previously held in a Dutch bank account, but undisclosed, had been recovered together with arrears of interest. Overdue Book Fair levies had now been remitted by the US Association. The German Association had paid the Cologne Book Fair levy in advance. The accounts were now in much better order, and the President thanked formally Mr. Poulsen for bringing about the improved state of affairs.
4. Spanish Association: Application
The Spanish statutes had been circulated in advance and a further letter concerning affiliation to ILAB had been received. The President drew attention to a number of points in the statutes relating to such matters as extra-territorial membership, the reported predominance of the Catalonian element, etc. There was also the matter of an outstanding dispute filed by an American Bookseller subsequent to the Barcelona Book Fair which should properly be pursued at National President level. It was resolved that clarification of these matters should be sought. The League would like to see a strong and truly national associations flourishing in Spain, and the application would be reviewed again in Vancouver, September 1993. The Spanish President would be welcome as observer throughout the Cologne Congress.
5. Czech Association: Application
Application for affiliation, accompanied by the Association statutes, had been received. However, the division of the country into Czech and Slovak states was still in progress and the outcome regarding the Czech association cannot be known. The application would therefore be deferred for further discussion at Vancouver and the Czech President would be advised accordingly. A Czech observer would be welcome at the present Congress.
No. 45 had been issued in both French and English versions, in reduced format and without advertisements. Following the resignation of the editorship by M. Reiss, the President proposed the next issue should be published under the auspices of the Committee. He called attention to the proven success of the former advertisement policy in funding the Newsletter, emphasising that, for comparatively little effort, a regular advertising revenue could be secured from well disposed member firms. He proposed therefore to ask each National President to engage to sell to his/her members a minimum of three one third-page advertisements (at Hfl. 250 each) for each issue. This would produce Hfl 11,250 per issue, sufficient to cover production costs and to ensure the Newsletter’s continuance. Advertising space should also be offered to associated trades, e.g. publishers of bibliographies. Without advertisements, publication costs would be a heavy, perhaps intolerable burden on the League’s finances, even with allowance made for slighter issues. The President was not confident that the National Associations could be expected to take responsibility for distribution in their own countries, particularly if divested of trade advertisements. Computerisation of printing could now be put in hand and this would cut costs. It was agreed to adopt this policy and return to the earlier format; but the separate French and English issues would be retained. National Presidents would indicate which issue they preferred or indeed whether they wanted both. Bob de Graaf’s excellent work as advertisement editor was acknowledged. It might be advisable in future to appoint an advertising editor in addition to a new editor.
Mr. Reiss reported that Mr. Brumme had been obliged to resign the editorship. He would give every assistance to a successor. Mr. Brumme had put the whole file into a computer and the disks could be passed over without difficulty. Updating and revision is now therefore relatively simple. It was proposed that an outside professional firm now be sought to take over publication. Thanks to Mr. Brumme’s labours, it would now not be so costly and it was hoped to have a new edition ready for Amsterdam 1994. Mr. Brumme would be warmly thanked for his magnificent work.
8. ILAB Dictionary
The two incomplete dossiers compiled by M. Monod and John Lawson were now in the hands of the Committee. Mr. Franco had nobly travelled from Utrecht to the meeting and reported as follows: he had now been able to collect over 1400 terms in English and French and, for all reasonable purposes, the list was now complete. The original had some 1200 terms. Further, there were many errors and many glaring mistranslations. He would now propose one important innovation: the introduction of illustrations, which would go far towards clarifying technicalities. The President reported that B. Rosenthal’s discussion with the publishers Olschki had been halted until questions about size, content, and market could be answered. After discussion, it was agreed that the Dictionary should be reduced to the four main languages: French, English, German, Italian. This would suffice for most purposes now that most of the international trade elected to print catalogues in one or other of these. A four-language dictionary would be more practical and simpler to achieve, and most of the work was already done.
Turning to the Abbreviations Dictionary (Agenda, n° 10), the President reported Mr. Rosenthal had computerised his collection of German and Italian abbreviations and was aiming to add more languages. He intended to publish himself, but the League might well offer to share the edition, taking perhaps 1000 copies to sell under its own imprint. This would be an excellent supplement to the ILAB Dictionary.
Mr. Franco would seek a firm which could computerise his existing ILAB Dictionary material, together with German and Italian versions, and produce copy for a printer/publisher. He would obtain estimates and advise the President.
9. Bibliographical Prize
Designs for a brochure announcing the next prize and an award certificate had been produced by Mr. Poulsen, who also announced that finance for the prize of $10,000 to be awarded every four years, could be generated by ILAB Prize capital now invested in bonds, without any recourse to sponsors. There was much discussion of a SLAM proposal that there should be a French representative on the Jury. Dr. Kocher-Benzing stated that various attempts had been made in the past to invite a French national to the panel, but they had met with no response. It was resolved that a French representative should be given priority when the next vacancy occurred, though there were only three places for booksellers and three for librarians. Dr. Kocher-Benzing announced that 16 entries had been received for the next award, but on past form, he would expect to receive about again as many in the last few months before the closing date. The qualifying publication dates for the next prize are the three years 1990-1992. The President announced that the German Association would present an exhibition of the prize-winning books at the forthcoming book fair and he hoped this would become a tradition for all future Congress-linked book fairs. There was an accumulation of books that had been entered in the past. There was no point in keeping them indefinitely and they would be sold via the Newsletter, the proceeds going to the Prize Fund. One copy of each prize-winner would be preserved in the ILAB archive at Amsterdam.
10. Revised Texts: Compendium of Usages and Customs, Rules, Guidelines for Book Fairs.
R. Kilgarriff’s revised drafts of the three texts had been circulated in advance for study. No adverse comments had yet been received. However, Mr. Kilgarriff, on further reflection, wished to repair the omission of any clause on the subject of the term for settlement of invoices. It was admittedly an area in which enforcement was difficult, yet a firm ILAB recommendation about prompt payment carried great moral weight and had proved valuable in resolving disputes in the past. After discussion, the following clause was inserted in article 3:
Payment. Unless other arrangements are agreed to, members should pay invoices in full either within 30 days of invoice dated or within 10 days of receipt of the goods, whichever is the later. Any article ordered may be returned only if it does not correspond with the sellers’ description.
Discussion of whether trade discount should be conditional upon early settlement of invoices ended in the conclusion that discount and prompt payment were separate issues and had been thus properly dealt with in the revision.
Mr. Rosenthal had sent a comment on the subject of undertaking commissions at auction: he proposed that a bookseller should never accept more than one bid for any one lot. Mr. Rota pointed out that there were several sets of circumstances in which a bookseller could not fairly refuse a second bid. The ethical position would then be to exercise the greatest discretion, disclosing neither bid to the clients, offering identical advice to the clients, and simply starting the lot at one bid above the lower one. The practice of auctioneers acting as brokers of books without going through the auction process, and the ensuing conflict of interest, was also discussed. It was noticed that there were widely differing practices in the various countries of the League.
One further amendment to the draft Guidelines was agreed: General Principles, Paragraph 2, line 2, after the word ILAB, add:
And only those who have registered for the relevant Congress and intend to support its programme of events may be allocated a booth at the Fair.
11. Any Other Business
i) A Russian bookseller had asked for guidance on how to enlist as an ILAB member. As he maintained an office in Prague, the President had advised him to contact the Czech association through which he could gain experience of the work of ILAB and might be encouraged to promote it in Russia.
ii) A letter from Mr. Soave, Italian President, expressed opposition on his members’ behalf to the proposed EC legislation for controlling the export of books, commenting on the EC harmonisation of VAT, and referring to past disputes about the organisation of the Milan Book Fair. That Fair would take place again this year and the organisers had agreed to comply with ILAB requirements and admit foreign ILAB members. The President stated that Italian members could not be prohibited by ILAB from participating in non-sponsored fairs; they were free to exhibit where they pleased so long as the Italian Association itself imposed no boycott.
12. Next Meeting
The meeting was closed as time had expired. The President announced he would reconvene the committee during the Congress whenever the programme allowed. (A meeting was subsequently arranged for 10:30 am, Wednesday, 9th September, at the Holiday Inn, Köln.)
RECONVENED COMMITTEE MEETING
9th September, 1992, Holiday Inn, Köln
Present: MM. Courvoisier and Magis (France) and Signor Soave (Italy) joined the meeting. Mr. Reiss, Vice-President, sent his apologies for his absence.
1. Proposed EC Legislation on controlling export of books
The proposal put before the General Assembly by the German Association that strong ILAB opposition be expressed to the new statute was discussed at length. MM. Courvoisier and Magis outlined the position of SLAM regarding this and regarding also the repressive controls already existing in France. Sig. Soave similarly explained the Italian position. Mr. Kilgarriff gave an exposition of British regulations in this area, stating that they were generally accepted and supported by the art and antiques trades in Great Britain. It was agreed that the British system, which had now been operating successfully for over 20 years, be advocated by ILAB. The League should also insist that the trade be fully consulted before any legislation in this area is put forward. A statement would be drafted along these lines for release to the press next day, for the use of National Presidents in lobbying government agencies, and for passing to the EC in Brussels.
2. Security: Canada
A resolution from the Canadian Association concerning Raymond Hobin, allegedly being detained in Canada pending international book theft charges, was received. ILAB would support ABAC in pressing Canadian law enforcement agencies to take appropriate action as a matter of urgency.
3. Any Other Business
i) Some corrections and amendments to ILAB stationery would be necessary. Mr. Poulsen would put this in hand.
ii) An offer from the Australian President regarding the next edition of the directory was noted with gratitude.
4. Next Meeting
3rd March, 1993, at the Pulitzer Hotel, Amsterdam.
6th September 1992, Dom-Hotel, Köln
Present: ILAB President, Anton Gerits, in the chair; the Officers and Members of the Committee (excepting Helen Kahn and Bernard Rosenthal who had sent apologies); Presidents of Honour Frieder Kocher-Benzing and Bob de Graaf; Past President Anthony Rota; and the National Presidents (or their deputies) as follows:
Australia & New Zealand Paul Feain
Austria Norbert Donhofer (deputy)
Belgium Claude Van Loock
Canada Don Lake (deputy)
Denmark Poul J. Poulsen
France Dominique Courvoisier
Germany Christine Grahamer
Great Britain Hylton Bayntun-Coward
Italy Vittorio Soave
Japan Takayoshi Fujimura (deputy)
Korea Soon-Ku Yo
Netherlands John A. Vloemans
Sweden Sigbjorn Ryö
Switzerland Alain Moirandat
USA Peter B. Howard
The Finnish Association had given its proxy to Mr. Ryö (Sweden). Brazil and Norway were not represented.
The President extended a warm welcome to all those present, especially those who had come from far away. He pointed out that ILAB decisions are made in the General Assembly, which would take place the following day. Today’s meeting would prepare the groundwork for those discussions to take place tomorrow.
Frieder Kocher-Benzing and Anthony Rota kindly agreed to act as scrutineers.
Apologies were received from Presidents of Honour John Lawson, Hans Bagger, Fl. Tulkens, Georges Deny, and from Helen Kahn and Bernard Rosenthal of the Committee.
3. Minutes of the Last Meeting
(Copenhagen, August 1991) were approved.
4. President’s Report
The President referred to some of the maters he would be mentioning in the report he proposed to deliver to the General Assembly next day.
He then referred to the previous official statement on alleged overpricing at the Tokyo Book Fair. There was now no difference of any kind between the Dutch and Japanese Associations. It was clear there had never been any complaint against an individual dealer. The President read out in full a second statement on the matter, (see hereafter), emphasising that it was meant, in general terms, to discourage malpractices, and condemned ill-informed gossip, particularly in connection with any individual. This statement would be published in the Newsletter. He thanked the Japanese and Dutch Presidents for their excellent cooperation in this matter.
5. Treasurer’s Report
The annual accounts had already been circulated in advance. He referred to revenue from sales of the Directory and Book Fair levy income from several countries (though 1992 dues from Amsterdam, Milan, London and America were still being awaited). The Cologne fair levy had been received in advance (the first such case) and he thanked the German association. ILAB funds were invested in various bank accounts and bonds. Most of the current interest would appear in next year’s accounts. The financial situation was much healthier now than in previous years. Mr. Soave explained the Italian difficulties regarding the Milan Book Fair levy, but assured the Treasurer the levy would be paid promptly henceforth; last year’s levy ($600) wold also be paid.
No. 45, under Michael Reiss’s editorship, had been distributed. Mr. Reiss had now resigned the editorship and the next issue would therefore appear under the auspices of the ILAB Committee, the President taking responsibility. The President reiterated the importance of the Newsletter as the contact medium between League and members. The policy for he next issue (described in the Committee Meeting Minutes) was explained and endorsed by the National Presidents. It was always hoped that two issues might be published each year, but because of the necessity of printing in both French and English, delays occurred, and often only a single issue could be produced in a year. Care would be taken to accept outside advertisements only if they were of a suitable and sympathetic nature.
Mr. Brumme had informed the President that he was no longer able to undertake the editorship and printing of the Directory. He had been disappointed by the lack of cooperation shown by some countries; also, he had found the work excessively arduous due to lack of support. Thanks were expressed to him for all he had done and particularly for his computerisation of the material. The President expressed appreciation to the British and American Associations for sending their Newsletters to the League, thus providing it with valuable updating data. He hoped all others would do the same. A new edition was anticipated in 1994. Peter Howard requested details of Directory sales. Mr. Rota reported that under 4000 copies had been sold so far. The German and American Associations took a copy for each of their members, and it was strongly urged that others do the same. It was quite possible to promote public sales on a much more satisfactory scale. The French President stated that, unfortunately, there was, on political grounds, resistance to supporting the Directory; it was feared that it was contrary to individuals’ commercial interest to promote it. These suggestions were refuted and the attitude deplored. The German President confirmed that it would be displayed for sale at the Book Fair; it was advertised in the Fair catalogue, as it had been at the Stuttgart and Cologne fairs.
The President announced that the Committee had discussed at length the long overdue revised Dictionary. Mr. Franco had kindly attended, and offered much helpful guidance. Eventually, it had been decided that the most fruitful course would be to prepare the work in four languages only, i.e. English, French, German and Italian. This would serve the needs of most members perfectly well, such languages as Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, etc. no longer being in general use in trade catalogues. Supplements in these minority languages would always be prepared later, as required. The National Presidents agreed with this approach, and with a proposal to provide Mr. Franco with the secretarial help he would need to computerise his already extensive collections in these languages. Mr. Franco’s proposal to use illustrations was welcomed. These arrangements would make it possible to advance the matter and to bring about publication more quickly. There would be a separate discussion with the Japanese and Korean Associations who might wish to produce their own translations. Mr. Rota reminded the meeting that, for reasons of copyright, it was essential to regard this as a new dictionary, not a new edition of a former one. There were ample grounds for doing so, as both scheme and contents were sufficiently original to qualify it as an entirely new book.
9. Bibliographical Prize
As previously recorded, it was intended henceforth to award the prize every four years, to have it coincide with the Congresses, and to increase its value to $10,000. ILAB funds would allow us to make this increase without soliciting sponsorship. Dr. Kocher-Benzing reported that 16 entries had already been received for the next award (due in 1994) and he would expect this number to be doubled by the end of this year which was the closing date. The President announced that the German Association would present an exhibition of the prize-winning books at the forthcoming Book Fair and he hoped that this would become a tradition for future fairs. The accumulation of books entered in past years would be sold via the Newsletter, the proceeds going to the Prize Fund. One copy of each prize-winner would be preserved in the ILAB archive in Amsterdam.
10. Abbreviations Dictionary
Bernard Rosenthal was well advanced on a project to compile an Abbreviations Dictionary of Italian and German bibliographical terms. His material was already on computer and there was some prospect of two more languages, French and English, being added. The League might well share publication with him and take 1000 copies for its own imprint. Mr. Howard enquired whether there was any prospect of adding other languages, such as Czech; there did not appear to be, at present.
11. Revised Texts: Compendium of Usages, Rules, Guidelines for Book Fairs
The new drafts had been circulated in advance, for study, to National Presidents.
a) Compendium. Mr. Kilgarriff now proposed one further addition, to be inserted as Article 3:
PAYMENT: Unless other arrangements are agreed upon, members should pay invoices in full either within 30 days of invoice date or within 10 days of receipt of goods, whichever is the later. Any article ordered may be returned only if it does not correspond to the seller’s description.
Dr. Grahamer suggested that the prompt payment of invoices should be combined with the granting of trade discount, so that the latter would be conditional upon compliance with the former. However, the Committee thought that the two questions should stand separately and distinct in the Compendium. It would jeopardize the clarity and emphasis of the recommendations to bring the two together. However, National Associations could combine the two factors and introduce conditionality into their own rules, if they wished. Mr. Howard mentioned that there was a convention in American Book Fairs that transactions between co-exhibitors should be settled immediately and not be subject to discount. Mr. Feain stated that a similar understanding obtained in Australia. The President agreed that such internal rules came under national jurisdiction, and that visiting booksellers should accept and observe them, though the League would like to see as much internal harmony as possible as regards rules.
b) Guidelines. It was agreed that there would be one further amendment. Paragraphs 2, in line 2, after the word ILAB, add:
and only those who have registered for the relevant Congress, and intend to support its programme of events, may be allocated a booth at the Fair.
M. Oberlé proposed that admission to the opening session of the Book Fair should be restricted to Congress delegates only. The President drew attention to the fact that the Fairs were primarily for the public, who surely should not be excluded. M. Moirandat opposed making distinctions about whom should be admitted to the opening of Fairs.
Mr. Howard expressed reservations about some passages, in the Guidelines, which made, he believed invidious distinctions between different kind of ILAB members, whereas all were equal, without qualification, in their rights to a place in an ILAB Fair. He particularly objected to a passage in the ‘Oversubscription’ paragraph. After discussion, the following sentence was deleted:
This would enable the organisers to give preference to firms which have supported the Fairs over many years, to firms which mount high quality displays, to firms whose exhibits add interesting variety because of their specialities, and to firms which observe high standards of professional conduct.
Mr. Lake raised the matter of open access to ILAB fairs by foreign exhibitors, mentioning that the League had formerly made recommendations in favour of openness, which were still not being observed. The German position, with regard to Stuttgart (which was independent of the Verband) and Cologne, was discussed. The majority felt that limitation of space could not be accepted as an excuse for restricting entry, since larger venues can always be found. The President hoped that the Verband would adopt the principle of admission of exhibitors to German Fairs from other affiliated countries, without requiring Verband membership and thus following international practice. The Meeting formally asked the German Association to re-examine the subject, which had long caused discontent in the League. It would be placed on the Agenda for Vancouver, 1993, and the Verband was requested to have formulated positive steps by then to remedy the situation.
The amended text of the Rules, Compendium and Guidelines were approved for submission to the General Assembly.
The President referred to a major international theft in Amsterdam. The stolen books were traced to Canada. An arrest had been made there and the books were now happily restored to the owner. Mr. Don Lake reported in detail on the case, and drew attention to the danger of a recurrence of the activities of the culprit. Mr. Lake moved a resolution pressing for urgent action by Canadian law enforcement agencies in this case. He agreed to have the resolution copied and translated for distribution at the General Assembly.
Mr. Vloemans proposed that, in such cases, the Association of the country where the book theft took place should be informed of recovery, of any arrest, and that it should be kept abreast of events.
13. Next Presidents’ Meeting and Congress
Mr. Lake announced that the National Presidents’ Meeting for 1993 would take place 28th September - 1st October at the Tsa Kwa Luten Lodge, Vancouver Island, where among other delights, the ‘world’s greatest salmon fishing’ was available. The Lodge brochure was distributed. It was also hoped that a Book Fair would be organised to follow this meeting.
Mr. Vloemans said that he would announce details of the Amsterdam Congress, 1994 at tomorrow’s General Assembly.
14. Any Other Business
i) France had proposed that each country of the League should have representation on the ILAB Committee. The President pointed out that this was contrary to existing principles. The National Presidents represented their countries’ interests. Members of the ILAB Committee must surrender their national identity and remain absolutely neutral.
ii) France also proposed the formation of a European Group within the League. This group would be able to work on the many special problems connected with European Union. A similar suggestion came from Italy, mentioning the need to monitor legislation coming before the Brussels Commission. Because European control of book exports affected other continents, all ILAB countries were involved. However, each European country had different regulations and each Association had its own representative. The President feared that such a group would not be sufficiently practical or effective, but he asked all Presidents to advise M. Oberlé concerning their own representative responsible for European matters, so that policy could be co-ordinated.
iii) Dr. Grahamer proposed a short resolution stating that ILAB refused to accept the new EC draft legislation concerning export control of books. She felt that, if kept short, all Presidents would be able to underwrite it, and to use it for lobbying purposes in their own countries. Time was short and the matter serious. If the regulations became law, the limitation of exports would be so strict that it could well put an end to our trade as we know it. She would arrange for the text of the resolution to be rendered into French and English and presented at the General Assembly.
The President closed the meeting at 5 pm.
7th September 1992, Industrie- und Handelskammer, Köln
The opening ceremony of the General Assembly included speeches of welcome from the President of the German Association, from the Burgermaster of Cologne and the Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Cologne. There was also a performance of German choral music by unaccompanied choir. The President replied and cordially welcomed all present.
He proceeded to the day’s Agenda pointing out that all the subjects listed had first been presented and discussed at the National Presidents’ Meeting the day before, and all today’s resolutions and proposals had already been approved by the Presidents. There were also some other items for discussion (e.g. proposed legislation for restricting the export of antiquarian books) which had arrived too late for the printed Agenda but which were of such urgency they could not be deferred. They would therefore be dealt with under Any Other Business.
2. Present, Apologies, Voting Rights, Scrutineers
Present were all the Presidents (or deputies), Committee members, Presidents of Honour and Past Presidents as listed in the minutes of yesterday’s Presidents’ Meeting.
Apologies were also recorded in yesterday’s minutes.
The Finnish proxy had been given to the Swedish President.
Sixteen nations (holding 20 votes) were present. Brazil and Norway were not represented.
Frieder Kocher-Benzing and Bof de Graaf kindly consented to act as scrutineers.
The President read a message from the Chinese Association with which ILAB contacts had been made through the good offices of Mr. Nitta. It wished the Congress every success, continuing “We are trying step by step to free the market in our trade and wish to become in the near future one of your members in order to develop friendly contacts.”
The President also welcomed representatives of the Spanish and Czechoslovakian Associations who attended as observers.
3. President’s Report, August 1991 - September 1992
The President recalled the sad loss of a number of distinguished colleagues. Dr. Schierenberg Sr. (formerly of Antiquariaat Junk), Hans Marcus (Amsterdam & Düsseldorf), Alan Thomas (London), and the company stood in their memory. Several Associations had elected new Presidents and committee members: all were welcomed and wished success in their office. All Associations were urged to keep the League informed of changes and developments, professional and personal, among their members. This would enable the ILAB Newsletter to carry trade data to all parts of the world. A major international book theft subsequent to the Milan Book Fair had now been resolved with the recovery of the books and the arrest of the thief in Canada. There had been celebrations of 80th birthdays of Mr. Glenn Dawson and Mr. Loeb Laroque. Two ILAB colleagues were to be congratulated on receiving Festschrift volumes in the year: M. Gérard Oberlé (France) and Bob de Graaf (Netherlands). Yushodo booksellers had celebrated their 60th birthday with a party in London, attended by the President. The President made a memorable three-day visit to the Korean Association in Seoul where he was received by Mr. Soon-Ku Yo and his committee. He was introduced to museums and bookshops in the city and they had much impressed him. He had also made an appearance on Korean television and had been able to advocate the free trade of books and to advance the cause of the Korean booksellers. A proposed visit to the Australian Association had not been possible to fulfil, but he hoped to rearrange it in the near future. The problems with the Milan Book Fair had been successfully resolved. New revised texts of the Rules, Compendium of Usages, and Guidelines for Book Fairs had been prepared and approved. He paid tribute to all his colleagues on the ILAB Committee and to the Past President Anthony Rota, all of whom had contributed importantly to the year’s work. He thanked the German Association for initiating the Friendship Programme and hoped it would be continued by host countries of future Congresses. He reported on conversations with the Japanese and Dutch Associations concerning the statement on alleged overpricing at the Tokyo Book Fair and announced there was now no difference of any kind between them. A second official statement had been prepared on this matter which the President read out. It would be published in the Newsltter.
4. Treasurer’s Report
The Annual Accounts had been circulated in advance and credit balances were seen to be satisfactory. In more detail, the Treasurer explained items of revenue and expenditure (as recorded in the Presidents’ Meeting’s minutes). The report was approved by the Assembly and the President formally thanked Mr. Poulsen for his labours in the past year, which had resulted in a much more satisfactory state of affairs than existed previously.
The President reviewed the present position of the Newsletter following Mr. Reiss’s resignation as editor, and explained the policy agreed upon by the National Presidents (described in detail in the minutes of their meeting and of the Committee Meeting). The policy was approved by the Assembly.
The President explained that Mr. Brumme, who had expended some 1200 hours of labour on the last edition was now compelled to resign as editor. Thanks to Mr. Brumme’s great advance in computerising the material, future editions would be much simpler to produce and it was hoped to have another ready for Amsterdam, 1994. He appealed again for more efforts by members to promote and sell the volume. Apart from revenue from sales, all members would benefit from the wildest possible circulation. Mr. Brumme was thanked warmly for his services to the League and the Assembly applauded.
The President described the policy approved by National Presidents (recorded in the minutes of their meeting). There would be a four-language dictionary, English, French, German and Italian, compiled under the editorship of Mr. Edgar Franco. The reduced scope would result in a marked acceleration in the work and he hoped publication might be possible by 1994.
He referred also to Bernard Rosenthal’s single-handed project for an Abbreviations Dictionary of Italian and German bibliographical terms (to which English and French sections might be added later). The League would propose to Mr. Rosenthal that it take 1000 copies of the edition for sale under the ILAB imprint. This was approved by the Assembly and Mr. Rosenthal’s work was applauded.
8. Bibliographical Prize
The President explained the new terms and conditions of the Prize and of its financing, and the intention to dispose of books entered in the past that were no longer required (as recorded in the minutes of the National Presidents’ Meeting). New designs for an entry leaflet and award certificate were shown. Dr. Kocher-Benzing reported on the position with regard to the 1994 prize. (see Presidents’ Meeting Minutes)
9. Revised texts: Rules, Compendium of Customs and Usages, Guidelines for Book Fairs
The President introduced this matter with some observations on the part played by our Rules and Codes of Practice in establishing public confidence in the trade. It was only by the implementation and observance of the ethical and professional standards indicated in these texts that the League could sustain public faith in our activities. The Usages, legally unenforceable as they were, should still be followed scrupulously by all our members. Any violations must be dealt with by the officers and committees of National Associations. These dedicated individuals alone had the power to reprimand or suspend, and he hoped they would be able to demonstrate the necessary moral courage in insisting on adherence by their members. He appealed for support for all those who worked tirelessly, often thanklessly, to uphold best practice in our trade and hoped the revised texts would make their task easier.
Mr. Kilgarriff introduced the texts to the Assembly, drawing attention to the changes which had been agreed upon by the National Presidents (see minutes of previous day’s meeting). The revisions were approved by the Assembly. They were immediately effective, would be printed as soon as possible, and would be sent to National Associations for distribution to all members.
The meeting adjourned for lunch after which the President took the opportunity to pay tribute to the work of his predecessor, Anthony Rota, whose term of office had ended between Congresses. Mr. Rota had represented the League with distinction at gatherings of librarians and bibliophiles all over the world, using every opportunity to publicise its work and standards. Apart from that, his guidance and advice had been of the greatest value in the smooth conduct of the League’s business. Mr. Rota was given a standing ovation by the Assembly, and flowers were presented to Mrs. Rota in recognition of the part she had played during her husband’s term of office.
Mr. Don Lake reported on a major international rare book theft. The books had been stolen in Amsterdam and taken to Canada. Fortunately, they had been recovered there and restored to the Dutch bookseller. An arrest had been made in Canada. The Canadian Association wished that ILAB should exercise all possible influence to ensure that the Canadian authorities press full charges in this case, as the individual concerned was likely to repeat his activities as soon as released from custody. The Assembly agreed that ILAB should make the necessary representations.
11. Any Other Business
i) A resolution by the German Association which had been discussed by the National Presidents the day before (and was now circulated in French and English translation) was proposed by Dr. Grahamer. It related to the restrictive new legislation on the export of antiquarian books, which is presently before the EC in Brussels. Its terms were explained at length by the German Association’s spokesman. There was much discussion of the somewhat unclear wording (as it appeared in the translation) of the resolution. Mr. Vellekoop and Mr. Poole Wilson (GB) suggested amendments. Mr. Schuster (GB) recommended a closer scrutiny of the resolution in relation to the 25 pages of draft legislation to which it referred. Mr. Magis (France) spoke, saying it was too short and not sufficiently considered for the complexity of the legislation it opposed. Dr. Grahamer stated it was too late to elaborate and prolonged discussion and its brevity would make it more effective. The Assembly resolved to authorise the Committee to produce a text, taking into account the points made in discussion. This text would be released to the press, distributed to National Presidents for lobbying purposes, and published in the Newsletter.
ii) Mr. Soave reported on the Milan Book Fair, referring to disputes that had occurred last year. This year it would be organised in accordance with ILAB guidelines on Book Fairs.
12. Next Meetings
i) National Presidents. Mr. Lake announced details for Vancouver, 1993. The meeting would take place at the Tsa Kwa Luten Lodge, Vancouver Island, where ‘the world’s greatest salmon fishing’ was available. The dates would be 28th September - 1st October, it was hoped that a Book Fair could be organised to follow the meeting. Fuller details would be distributed by the Canadian President early in 1993.
ii) Congress. Mr. Vloemans gave a warm welcome in advance to all for the Congress in Amsterdam, 23rd - 26th September 1994 (for which the Cologne Congress, excellent as it was, seemed merely a dress rehearsal as far as he was concerned). Preparations were already under way. The Congress would be followed by the 15th International Antiquarian Book Fair, 27th - 30th September.
In closing the meeting, the President warmly expressed appreciation to the German Association, hosts of the Assembly, and flowers were presented to Dr. Grahamer.
FREE TRADE AND THE NATIONAL HERITAGE
During the past few months the proposed EC regulation 7849/92 Culture 75 UD 105, A4, 7, 8/8a, concerning the export control of cultural properties, has been closely studied by the professional antiquarian booksellers associations of eighteen nations.
At the 31st Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), Cologne, 4 - 7 September 1992, representatives of over 1700 leading firms worldwide have noted the terms of their proposal. They receive it with respect but would offer some comment and would propose some amendment.
They are of the opinion that certain definitions and restrictions formulated in the proposed regulation are in direct conflict with Article 36 of the Treaty of Rome in that they will restrict the movement of books and manuscripts across national frontiers, and endanger reasonable free trade.
It is admittedly difficult to legislate in such a way as to protect the legitimate interests of all the effected parties in this area: the owner, the intending purchaser, and the nation. However, having studied the regulations in operation in the various countries represented in the ILAB we are convinced the system existing in Great Britain has proved itself the fairest to the conflicting interests and the simplest to administer. It has been working satisfactorily for well over 20 years. Its definition of the categories of printed book, manuscript and related materials, and the value - and age - levels at which control comes into effect have earned general acceptance. Its provisions are in conformity with the Treaty of Rome.
In contrast to these smooth working arrangements we note, for instance, that in the proposed regulation there is an arbitrary and invidious discrimination between incunabula (books printed before 1500) and other early printed books; and the term manuscript is used without qualification so as to apply at once to a medieval illuminated manuscript and to an autograph letter of recent times in an obscure or anonymous hand.
Members of the ILAB act as advisers to national libraries and governments and have played their part in protecting conserving, restoring and ensuring the survival of millions of books and manuscripts. They possess between them a vast range of accumulated knowledge, expertise and experience in the practical aspects of handling these materials. They willingly put this at the disposal of the legislative bodies.
With close co-operation between professionals and law makers it should be possible to produce a regulatory instrument which will not only satisfy the requirements of the parties but will also eliminate the risk of malpractice.
The Committee of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers urge therefore that the present proposal be withdrawn and that ILAB be consulted with regard to a revised draft.
The ILAB at the General Assembly of the 31st Congress.
REPLIES RECEIVED FROM THE COMMISSION OF EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES
From the two directors of the Commission we had sent copies of the Statement. Free Trade and National Heritage, together with a letter dated September 23, 1992, we received a reply.
The “Cabinet” of Mr. Jean Dondelinger answered [in French. This is an English translation:
Brussels, 22 December 1992
Further to your letter of 2nd December 1992, I should like to point out to you that the Council, after months of exhaustive work, has, on 9th December last, agreed on a common position regarding the proposal of guidelines for ‘restitution’ and has adopted a ruling regarding the export of cultural objects to non-member countries.
The Commission considers that the solutions arrived at by the Council strike a good balance between the free circulation of cultural objects and the protection of the national heritage.
Regarding the external panel, the machinery will make it possible to ensure homogeneity at the external frontiers of the Community, while at the same time holding in check the administrative excess weight it implies.
The ILAB has sent the following reaction:
Att. Mr. Jean Dondelinger
Ref. TLM/ags E 2020/2401 D 1140
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of December 22, 1992.
I regret, however, to note that you have replied only very briefly to our short reminder of December 2, 1992, and not to our original statement and letter of September 23, 1992 which contained extensive arguments.
You have agreed to a ‘common position’ without even advising us of the contents of the rulings, thus turning down the very positive contribution of an international community of experts, who had the courtesy of informing you accurately as to the risks of malpractices to which the above-mentioned ruling might give rise.
It will be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the co-operation of tradesmen, which co-operation was the real intention of our communication of September 23, 1992!
We regret most sincerely that you should so cavalierly have turned down our offer of co-operation. In not granting us your support you have, in this manner, seriously compromised the ideal of European unity.
We shall publish your reply of December 22, together with the present letter, in our International Newsletter. We shall also inform our respective governments, as well as political parties in member countries of our League.
From the “Bureau” of the “Vizepräsident” of the “Kommission der europäischen Gemeinschaften”, Martin Bangemann, we received the following letter:
(addresses to the President of ILAB)
Thank you for your letters of September 23 and December 2, 1992, in which you express criticism regarding the definition of certain categories of cultural objects, appearing in annexes to two proposals of the Commission.
As regards the list of categories, I should like to stress that, at the drafting of the proposals, the Commission has been advised by independent experts in the fields of art and history. Moreover, with Council discussions in the offing, the delegations of member states also have consulted experts in the different fields concerned.
The enclosed text - of the ruling on the export of cultural objects, and on the common position on the proposal regarding the guidelines on ‘restitution of cultural objects’ agreed to by the Council on December 9, last - will show you that the Council has succeeded in striking a balance between free circulation of cultural objects and the protection of objects of national importance, an arrangement clearly reflected in the adaptation of categories with which your criticisms are concerned.
Our commentary: the ‘enclosed text’ referred to in Mr. Bangemann’s letter had, much to our regret, not been included.
In a letter dated January 9, 1993, we have asked to send us these texts by return of mail. As soon as the ILAB Committee will receive these texts, I shall communicate them to the national presidents.
regarding "overpricing" at the Tokyo Book Fair
It has recently been brought to our attention that the wording of the statement on “overpricing” at the Tokyo Book Fair has led to speculative gossip. Since the statement on was meant to discourage malpractices which had been brought to our notice by a Japanese librarian, who gave an indication of his concern about a tendency he had noticed in more than one case, the Japanese Association has quite understandably declined to mention any names, since it was not the librarian’s aim to blame any one dealer, but rather to condemn a specific bad practice followed by a small number of exhibitors from various countries.
The League is grateful that the librarian brought his complaint to us through the Japanese Association, and not to the Press or other public media. We have therefore respected his wish to treat his complaint as a general one.
All those who mention individual names in connection with this matter, without knowing facts, do a disservice to the League and especially to themselves.
That is why the League and its Committee have never mentioned individual names but have only spoken against the practice complained of.
The ILAB claims to represent antiquarian booksellers who follow a high standard of business principles. Thus the committee would have been wrong not to have raised its voice within our own circle about such a serious message from the library world.
In our view it is the task of the ILAB Committee to alert the presidents of all National Associations when serious malpractices (such as forgery and blatant overpricing) are brought to its attention. Moreover, the Committee has a duty to ask the national presidents to help protect our community from gaining an unwelcome reputation. This has been the practice in the past and it remains the Committee’s policy for the future.
The present Committee adopts the position taken previously taken by the former president of the League and the outgoing Committee. It will publish this statement in the next Newsletter.
The ILAB Committee.