Bookseller News

An announcement from the Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Bookseller's Association of America: Announcing the Winners of the inaugural California Young Book Collector's Prize. The quality of all of the applications made it extremely difficult to choose the winning candidates, and the committee would like to extend its sincere thanks to each and every applicant who took the time and effort to apply. Our third place award went to Megan Messinger, from Pomona. Her collection “is an attempt to bring together my two great loves” – medicine and theater. While these two interests may seem very far apart, Megan has found a place where they merge: in the staging of violence. A former fight choreographer and teacher of stage combat, the merging of medicine and theater has deepened her understanding of “the place of violence in society; why it is staged the way it is, both now and in the past; and how performances of violence and medicine are two sides of the same coin.” The second place award was given to Jessica Jordan of Palo Alto. Jessica's collection revolves around the love of the artwork, and illustrations, of an interracial couple – Leo and Diane Dillon. The couple faced many barriers when they first began to build their life and joint career together; but by the time of Leo Dillon's death in 2012, they had become known as two of “the world's pre-eminent illustrators for young people”. The Dillons were the only consecutive winners of the Caldecott M... [more CA Young Book Collector’s Prize Winners]

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New Members

By Rich Rennicks

Meet the newest members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America! Full Members William C. Baker W. C. Baker Rare Books & Ephemera (Brooklyn, NY) -- Avant-garde Literature, Americana, Science, Religion, Performing Arts Will Baker operates W. C. Baker Rare Books & Ephemera, a firm specializing in Americana, counterculture, and unusual currents in science, religion, and the performing arts. Will grew up in northeast Ohio, studied religion at Carleton College, and first moved to New York in 2001 to pursue a master's degree in museum studies at NYU. During that time, he worked for the late sword swallower and collector Johnny Fox, who encouraged him to consider more seriously his long-held interest in the rare book trade. After attending Rare Book School, Will was hired as a cataloger in Americana by the William Reese Company, where he worked for five years. In 2011, Will took a hiatus from the trade to lead a revitalization program at New Haven's Institute Library as its first executive director. He returned full-time to the business in 2014 and to New York two years later. Michael Brenner Brenner's Books - Rare & Collectable (Manasquan, NJ) -- Mystery, Sci-Fi, Signed Firsts, Books about Books Always a voracious reader, Michael Brenner had been buying, selling and passionately collecting books for over 30 years before he decided, after a career in the wine business, that he wanted to sell books full-time. He was a moonlighting bookseller for a few years before atten... [more New Members]

The Thomas Mann House has paired up with ABAA-members Brad and Jennifer Johnson of Johnson Rare Books & Archives in Covina, California, to recreate the author's personal library during the years he spent in California. This informative video details the exciting project... We asked Dr. Nikolai Blaumer, Program Director of the Thomas Mann House, about this ambitious project: ABAA: What happened Thomas Mann's original library at the end of his life? The Mann family left the country in 1952, after Thomas Mann was accused of Un-American activities. Parts of his private library were taken to Switzerland, where Thomas Mann spent his last years. Those books are part of the Thomas Mann Archive in Zurich today. Other books (approximately 3500) were sold to a bookseller in Santa Monica. The German Government bought the house in 2016 after it was privately owned for more than sixty years. Many parts of the house remained in their original condition -- including the former study of Thomas Mann and its bookshelves. This room is still the centerpiece of the house -- and a wonderful opportunity to keep the spirit of Thomas Mann alive. ABAA: Who will be using this library when completed? The library will first of all be a study for our fellows, who spend three to ten months in the US. We believe that they will be grateful for the reconstitution of the library -- even though their work reaches beyond Thomas Mann research. Over time, the library will grow according to the interests and experti... [more Recreating Thomas Mann’s Library]

The Northern & Southern California Chapters of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America would like to announce The California Young Book-Collector's Prize. UPDATE: Deadline extended until December 15. Submissions should be sent as a .pdf file to Ben Kinmont, Chair of the Northern California Chapter of the ABAA, at bkinmont@gmail.com. Most great collectors started when they were young, and most great collections started with a passion for a particular object or subject. When these objects are books and manuscripts, the collectors are called bibliophiles, or lovers of the book. Curiously, the love of books continues unabated today, despite their increasing rarity and the rapid growth of digital media. Some might even argue that the printed page has taken on a new meaning and cultural resonance in our era of computers and electronic texts. In recognition of the next generation of bibliophiles, we have created The California Young Book-Collector's Prize. The competition is open to collectors aged 35 and under who are living in California. All collections of books, manuscripts, and ephemera are welcome, no matter their monetary value or subject. The collections will be judged on their thoroughness, the approach to their subject, and the seriousness which with the collector has catalogued his or her material. The winner of the competition will be awarded: 1. A gift certificate of $500 to spend at the 2019 California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2. An exhibition of... [more ABAA’s California Chapters Launch Book-Collecting Prize, Deadline Extended!]

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New Members

By Rich Rennicks

Welcome the latest full- and associate-members of the ABAA. Full Members David Meikle, Archway Books (Dover, NH) David Meikle bought his first “old books” at age eleven, paying a bargain price for three handsome 125-year-old books. Only when he got home did he realize most of the engravings were razored out and had probably been for sale individually in that very stall. Still, he was hooked on old books. Twenty-five years later, he jumped at a chance offer to manage a used bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and spent ten years there, eight as an owner. As his own antiquarian interests developed, he realized that running a general-interest used bookstore would not remain fulfilling for the rest of his working life. So, he sold his share and for nearly twenty years has sold primarily on the internet and at shows. While he characterizes his inventory as “general antiquarian,” over time themes have emerged that reflect a fascination with artifacts where cultures meet — missionary Bible translations and tracts; sailors' photograph albums; foreigners portrayed in Japanese printed books; Western primers and textbooks transmogrified into Greek, Chinese, Armenian or whatever; photographs of the first Japanese/Chinese/Burmese students/diplomats/entertainers in Britain/France/America; relatively unknown US military incursions in Asia prior to World War II; and immigrant religious and political publications in the US. David Spilman, David Spilman Fine Books (Sebastopol, CA... [more New Members]

New-ABAA-Bookstores

ABAA Members Expanding

By Rich Rennicks

A number of ABAA members have either opened new stores or renovated their existing premises recently. This is significant because for years, antiquarian booksellers were either retiring or converting to “closed shops,” which only sell by appointment, on the internet, and/or at rare book fairs. It's an expensive undertaking to keep a shop open to the public with regular business hours, staff, utilities, etc., and many rare booksellers — like their trade bookselling counterparts — found it challenging to maintain an open shop. Unlike those in the new-book trade, antiquarian booksellers have the option of operating as a “closed shop,” and focusing on rare-book catalogs, rare book fairs, and selling to institutional collectors directly instead. Recently, a new trend has emerged, with the five ABAA members below opening new stores or significantly expanding their existing ones. Whitmore Rare Books (Pasadena, CA) Whitmore Rare Books recently moved from a second-floor walk-up space to a ground-level showroom on a much more heavily trafficked street in Pasadena. Owner Dan Whitmore explains the attraction of the new space: "We opened our new retail shop at 121 E Union St., Pasadena, CA 91103 in October 2018. The space was previously used as an art gallery. I fell in love with the high ceilings, the vintage purple-lead glass, hardwood floors and big window bays. We sit just on the edge of Old Town Pasadena and a short walk to the convention center where the CA International... [more ABAA Members Expanding]

Many booksellers have insurance policies that protect against loss, damage, and even liability, but what can you do to protect against crime? We asked experts from Risk Strategies and Michals Insurance to give us the low-down. In the case of credit card or check fraud, certain policies can cover loss. Kierstin Johnson of Risk Strategies says that certain Fine Art and Rare Book policies will treat the incident as a theft if the dealer ships the item out prior to the transaction going through, and then cannot collect the money. In essence, the dealer is out the book and the money and a “theft” claim could be filed with the insurance company, as the book has essentially been stolen. However, different insurance carriers take a different view. It is important for booksellers to review the exclusions in their policies. Look for the word “conversion” or “voluntary parting.” If these are present, the insurer might not cover the claim as it considers this loss caused by voluntary parting with the property because of any fraudulent scheme, trick, or false pretense. Especially when dealing with older material, even the most diligent and scholarly booksellers can find themselves in possession of material that does not have clear title. Brad Michals of Michals Insurance cites art theft as a $6 billion-a-year industry and questions of ownership can make sellers susceptible to loss. To mitigate risk, insurers recommend purchasing Title Insurance. This requires a one-time premiu... [more Crime in Bookselling: Insuring against Unforeseeable Acts]

A recent discussion on social media illustrates there are some misunderstandings about the cost and application process when a firm has more than one owner or shareholder. Though not all shareholders may want to become ABAA members for those who do the application process is slightly abbreviated as some components are waived — after all, the viability of the business has already been established. Dues for each additional full member are $250 per year. The benefits of being a full member include the ability to take an active role in the governance of the ABAA through voting rights as well as the ability to serve on the Board of Governors and Committees. The following Q&A aims to answer the most common questions. Second Primary Full Membership What is a Second Primary Member? A Second Primary Member is any additional full member in a firm. Membership lies in the individual rather than the firm. Cost of membership is one-third the price of the first full member. What are the requirements for Second Primary Membership? The ABAA welcomes and encourages applications from individuals who are antiquarian or rare booksellers of good character, reputation, and credit rating who have been in business for at least four continuous years and whose principal place of business is in the United States. Applicants must be owners or shareholders in the firm. What is the application process? Individuals can commence an application at apply.abaa.org. An applicant must be sponsored by three curr... [more Membership Options for Firms with Multiple Owners]

Owen Kubik, a long-time ABAA member from Dayton Ohio, knew it was too good to be true when he discovered a cache of 16th- and 17th-century books in a bulk shipment of used books. Kubik regularly buys large lots of old books from thrift store recyclers. The books are gathered from thrift stores across the country — which either don't want to handle used books in their stores or have too many — and then sold wholesale by the truck-load to book stores and paper recycling operations. Going through such large shipments can be time-consuming, but Kubik finds that this "is a good source for a large volume of general stock for my open shop. There is almost never anything rare or collectible, just good, decent everyday books." A lot sourced from the East Coast in March 2018 proved to be a little different, however. “Here I am, going through old novels, encyclopedias, textbooks, etc... and then all of a sudden I start finding nice 16th-17th century leather-bound books in original bindings,” Kubik recalls. “A Cicero from 1547, Boethius from 1656, and multiple volumes of 16th- and 17th-century Italian poetry.” In total, Kubik found 20 books in fine leather bindings, all in nice condition. Not an average day at the office. "My heart skipped a beat, I think. These are not what should be coming out of thrift stores.” A close examination revealed that all the books had faint pencil call numbers on the back of their title pages. In addition, a few of the books had a bookplate fr... [more ABAA Member Recovers Books Stolen from Yale University]

With the 50th anniversary of Desert Solitaire upon us, Back of Beyond Books has launched a unique publishing program to both honor the importance of Edward Abbey's book and continue the discussion surrounding Desert Solitaire. This November, Back of Beyond in partnership with Torrey House Press will publish Desert Cabal: a New Season in the Wilderness by Amy Irvine. In Desert Cabal, Amy Irvine admires the man who influenced her life and work while also examining "the inspiration of Desert Solitaire through the lens of 50 years of desert love and a contemporary, feminist vision." Back of Beyond will also publish a facsimile of the first draft of Desert Solitaire, with hundreds of handwritten manuscript changes by Abbey. This document has never been published before and only fifty sets of the facsimile will be made available. In addition, Ken Sanders Rare Books are coordinating the publication of four Desert Solitaire-inspired literary letterpress broadsides featuring original work by the writers Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, Doug Peacock, and Amy Irvine. "I'm so excited about these three publications," says Back of Beyond Books' owner Andy Nettell. "But it is a little scary too. Even though I've been in the book trade for 18 years, I really had no idea how expensive books and publications are to publish." To that end the store has launched a KickStarter crowd sourcing fund raiser in August 2018 to support the publication program. "We need to raise $15,000 to successfu... [more Celebrating 50 Years of Desert Solitaire]