Bookseller News

“Genius is immediate, but talent takes time.” —Janet Flanner If you think of Paris as a golden city of culture, eternally haunted by the ghosts of “lost generation” writers like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, you are indebted to Janet Flanner. For 50 years Flanner lived in Paris and chronicled its daily life, its culture, and its personalities for the New Yorker. It's possible she did more to shape American's impressions of Paris than any other writer. Like Flanner's cultural reportage, building a quality book collection also takes time and a keen instinct. The astute collector must immerse themselves in their chosen milieu, genre, or subject matter, and learn to tell the exceptional writers from the insipid, to distinguish between the ephemeral flavors of the month and the books that will stand the test of time. Great collections are not built in a day, nor are they built alone. Savvy collectors find others who share their interests, or who have collected or studied an area before them. Some of these experts are members of the ABAA, have helped many people build their collections, and are always happy to help newer collectors hunt for the essential cornerstones of their growing collections. If you have not read Janet Flanner before, a wonderful place to start is her 1972 collection Paris Was Yesterday. If you have not met any ABAA members, a good first step is to read through their catalogs for insight into their interests, areas of exper... [more]

Autograph expert and ABAA-member Gary Combs died last month. A celebration of his life will be held in New York City on March 7, as many of his former colleagues will be in the city for the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. ABAA-member James Camner paid tribute to his late friend and colleague: It is with deep sadness that I am reporting the death of my dear friend and colleague Gary Combs who died just after his 70th Birthday on February 10. Gary will be known to many in the ABAA as a premier level autograph dealer in New York City. He was a top private dealer, a “dealer's dealer” for many years, but his start in the business was as a salesman in the Book Department of B. Altman's Department store, where I met him back in 1976. At the time, he was the assistant to another dear old departed friend of the trade, Bob Tollett. Upon Bob's retirement, Gary became Altman's buyer, and remained there until the store closed for good. We older autograph and book dealers will remember what a force Altman's and their buyers were in their day. At every book fair, autograph show and twice a year in Europe, we all looked forward to their buying trips. They were perhaps the most powerful retail outlet to the general public, and their groundbreaking full page ads in the New York Times likely created countless new collectors. With Gary's passing, we have lost our last link to that grand old institution and its retail world of antiquarian books, maps and autographs. After leaving Altman's, Ga... [more]

You've no doubt heard the great news that Assembly Bill 228 has been introduced by California State Assembly Members Gloria and Chiu. If passed, this bill will provide significant relief from the most troubling and onerous provisions of AB 1570, California's new autograph law. The ABAA, IOBA, PBA Galleries, and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, The Manuscript Society, The Ephemera Society, The Northern California Independent Booksellers' Association, The Professional Autograph Dealers Association, Horror Writers Association, The Grolier Club, Biblio and The Easton Press have formally expressed support for this pending legislation in the linked letters. The legislative process is long and complicated. Bills pass through policy committees in each house of the legislature and the process takes many months. What this bill needs to help ensure that it becomes law is your support. We encourage members and interested parties to write a letter of support for AB 228 addressed to the bill's primary author: Assemblymember Todd Gloria P.O. Box 942849 Sacramento, CA 94249-0078 You can also add your name and comments to the petition. We'll keep you updated on progress here. [more]

Bernard M. Rosenthal was born in 1920 in Munich. Most of his immediate family left Munich for Florence in 1933, left Italy for France in 1938, and arrived in the US in 1939, each move in response to the problem of being Jewish. Both sides of his family, the Rosenthals and on his mother's side, the Olschkis of Italy, were heavily involved in the book trade going back generations as antiquarians, printers, publishers and authors. An extensive interview with Rosenthal was conducted by Dan Slive (head of Special Collections of the Bridwell Library at SMU) and appeared in the RBM Journal in 2003; in it, Rosenthal gives a fulsome account of his early days in the trade, starting in 1949 as an apprentice bookseller in Zurich under a bibliographical “tyrant,” Herr Frauendorfer, then later under the tutelage of Arthur Swann at Parke-Bernet, and finally starting off on his own in 1953, at 71st and Madison in Manhattan as a seller of scholarly and bibliographical works. In 1970 he moved his firm to San Francisco and remained in Northern California the rest of his life. His specialties included early printed and manuscript books, the history of scholarship and bibliography, and paleography. He joined the ABAA in 1955, served as its president from 1968-70, and was a generous guide, resource and mentor to many of the ABAA's current members. One of Rosenthal's greatest contributions was his catalogue of a collection of early printed books bearing extensive contemporary manuscript annotat... [more]

At a time when some brick and mortar antiquarian bookstores are closing their doors in favor of an internet-only presence, Matthew and Adrienne Raptis, of Raptis Rare Books, have gone against the grain and recently opened a rare bookstore on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. Worth Avenue, like Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive, is synonymous with luxury brands and caters to an island that is home to the rich and famous, including the new President-elect, Donald Trump. Raptis Rare Books had previously operated mainly as a catalog and online business out of a beautiful Italianate villa in Vermont, but Matthew Raptis wanted to have more interaction with his customers and allow people to come into greater contact with “these wonderful written works of art.” The new gallery opened on November 1, but the grand-opening is being held until January 2017, when the holiday rush is past. "We've had an outstanding initial reception to the store,” Matthew commented. “People love the idea of something new and different on the Avenue and when they walk in they often talk about their love of the smell of old books and how a particular book touched their lives. Holding a rare book is like holding a bit of history in your hands.” Almost all of the books in the Raptis Rare Books inventory are first editions and many of them are signed or inscribed by the author. Matthew and Adrienne refer to the new store as a gallery because "like fine art, in a way it is like stepping into a museum." Unlike a ... [more]

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New Members: Fall 2016

By Rich Rennicks

The ABAA has recently approved several new members, all of whom have successfully proven themselves to be, in the words of the ABAA Guarantee, "established, knowledgeable, and of excellent reputation." These new members were sponsored by existing members, and have undergone a rigorous screening process. We welcome the newest members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America. Full Members: Kim Herrick, The Book Lair Kim Herrick got her start in the book trade by buying a large collection from an estate sale and then going to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar to figure out what to do with it. Luckily, this turned into a passion for a new career and Kim went on to attend the Rare Book School several times and many trade shows with her new business, The Book Lair. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Kim has kept her roots in the Bay Area by joining the Book Club of California and regularly attending events there. One of her specialties is miniature books and she is a member of the Miniature Book Society. Andrew Langer, Andrew Langer Bookseller Andrew Langer came to bookselling in a roundabout way, in large part as a consequence of moving into a nearly 100-year-old house in 1996. Efforts at restoration led to an increased interest in the old ways and to a need for parts sourced from the local community. Books and ephemera came home with the fixtures, and the infant online auction market demonstrated an audience for the uncommon. A decade later, Mr. Langer began to sell eph... [more]

Denver has its very own "Booksellers' Row" after the relocation of two ABAA members, Anderson Butler Rare Books and Gallagher Books. Anderson Butler Rare Books has opened and Gallagher Books has re-opened after moving seven doors South of their previous location. Anderson Butler Rare Books relocated to Denver from Seattle a year ago and have just rented the storefront at 1460 South Broadway. Mark Anderson has been in the antiquarian book business since 2001. Mark's wife, Nora Butler Anderson, joined him in the business in 2008. The original store opened on the second-floor of a Seattle building in 2010. Now in its new street-level incarnation on Antique Row, Anderson Butler Rare Books specializes in antiquarian, collectible and eclectic books, manuscripts, art and ephemera across many fields including Americana, Literature, Travel and Philosophy. They are especially interested in books relating to the Culture of Time: Almanacs and Calendars, Astrology and Divination, and Horology. Anderson Butler Rare Books, 1460 South Broadway, Denver. Inside Anderson Butler Rare Books. Gallagher Books was started by Don and Sue Gallagher in 1994 in the Antique Guild that used to be at the corner of Louisiana and Broadway. After 12 years in that location, the Guild was redeveloped and Gallaghers moved to the 1400 block of the row where they had a shop for 10 years. Now they are in the new location just two doors from Anderson Butler. Don died in the spring of 2015 and Sue has continued the b... [more]

ABAA member Kenneth Karmiole has donated $100,000 to the Book Club of California to endow an annual lecture series entitled “The Kenneth Karmiole Endowed Lecture on the History of the Book Trade in California and the West.” The lecture series will focus on the book trade — printing, publishing, and bookselling — over the past two centuries. Planning for the inaugural lecture (tentatively planned for the final quarter of 2017) is under way, and details will be announced next year. Kenneth Karmiole is a philantrophist and antiquaraian bookseller. He has been a member of the Book Club of California since 1976 and is currently serving on its board of directors. The Book Club of California said, “Mr. Karmiole's leadership and vision are inspiring. His initiative, and in particular his generous endowment — the first of its kind for this institution — will significantly bolster the Book Club of California's ongoing efforts to engage high-profile speakers and scholars whose research and writing enlarge our understanding of the history of the book and book culture in the West.” --- Kenneth Karmiole talked with the ABAA about his bookselling career in 2014: Image of Kenneth Karmiole credit: Joanie Harmon - UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies [more]

Former president of the ABAA Robert D. Fleck died yesterday. Fleck founded Oak Knoll Books in 1976, and Oak Knoll Press two years later. The publishing operation was intended to fill a need he saw for books about book collecting, design, and bibliography. Fleck was extremely well-known and respected throughout the international antiquarian community, serving as president of both the ABAA and the ILAB during his long career. Just last year, he was awarded the ILAB Medal “in recognition of services rendered to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.” His son, Rob Fleck, posted this announcement on the Oak Knoll Books website: It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of my father, Robert D. Fleck, Jr., proprietor of Oak Knoll Books & Press. He was our helmsman – our captain – our leader in this world of books-about-books. Having founded Oak Knoll Books in 1976, Dad's legacy is anything but short, and heavily decorated with awards, honors, and leadership positions. His love for his family & friends, local history, and (of course) books was unsurpassed. His determination and poise under pressure, no matter how severe, was something that we should all aspire to. He was an important man in the field of bookselling, but I'll always know him as the loving father that he always was. Books were his life, and his life was books. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad, Rob Fleck Memorial Service A memorial service will be held Tuesday, September 27, 2016... [more]

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Rare Book Catalogs

By Rich Rennicks

We humans are a superstitious bunch. Some touch wood frequently, others mutter about rabbits on the first day of each month, and apparantly a large number wear particular socks or T-shirts in the pursuit of that most ephemeral of things, luck. Do book collectors have particular rituals or superstitions regarding visits to a rare bookstore or the examination of rare book catalogs? We're sure you do. Let us know your particular good-luck rituals or habits in the comments below... if you care to reveal your secrets. While you ponder that question, here are the latest rare book catalogs from ABAA members for your temptation and enjoyment. ANDERSON BUTLER RARE BOOKS E-list: 10 Items Pertaining to Time! NICK ARETAKIS New Acquisitions, September 2016 -- featuring 57 items of Americana BACK OF BEYOND BOOKS Recent Acquisitions -- list only available to mailing list subscribers. Sign up here... BAY LEAF BOOKS E-list #21: Bookplates & Bookplate Literature LORNE BAIR RARE BOOKS E-list 18: American Social Fiction, 1891-1946 BAUMAN RARE BOOKS Royalty Aubrey Beardsley BETWEEN THE COVERS RARE BOOKS New Arrivals Catalog (No. 208) BOLERIUM BOOKS Native American Activism Chicano & Latino Posters including the Puerto Rican Independence Movement Filipinos in America & America in the Philippines; Activism, literature & history THE BOOK SHOP, LLC. BREAKING ALL THE RULES: Social Commentary in Modern American Board Games -- In this catalog we offer a wide variety of modern American board games that a... [more]