Bookselling

Fight of the Century: Auction Houses vs. Dealers Editor's note (John Schulman): Greg Gibson of Ten Pound Island Book Co., a specialist in “wet books” (maritime books, manuscripts, ephemera, sea charts, etc.,) has for the past five years authored a weekly blog chronicling his life in the rare book trade. Because he is smart, observant, witty and outspoken, and because he is a gifted writer (the author of several books) Bookman's Log makes for great reading on many topics of interest to antiquarians – market trends, the effect of the internet, reviews of book and paper shows, and sundry anecdotes about fellow dealers and collectors. In the past, Gibson has made passing comments on the undeclared war between dealers and auction houses, but those were mere shots across the bow compared to the anti-auction cannonade of his last two contributions. Although many dealers and auction houses work together on all sorts of levels (referrals, consigning, bidding, cataloging) the two groups are joined in basic competition for the material being offered and for the clients who might buy that material. When the stakes are high, this competition can become fierce. Book dealers and auction houses each offer certain advantages over the other. A dealer can engage in a relationship with a collector, get to know what that collector needs, scout up material and offer it directly, advise the collector, and so forth. This increases the level of trust between dealer and client, and friendships o... [more]

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Carried Away

By Greg Gibson

People tend to get carried away by the romance of old books and paper, and it's easy to see why. The thrill of the hunt, the joys of discovery, and the marvelous stories locked up in dusty old letters, journals, and books provide a perfect escape – an antidote to the stresses of our daily lives. Unfortunately, overworked librarians and book dealers often find that their interaction with books and manuscripts devolves into an insistent time/money proposition. As much as we'd like to linger over an ancient text, or just sit down and read the damned thing, we've got to get that bugger cataloged and shelved. There's work to be done! We wind up stressing out over the very things that should be affording us relief. So it's a delight when, every once in a while, something comes along that is so arresting and charismatic that it commands our complete attention and gobbles up our time, productivity be damned. I came across just such a lot on my way to the Washington Book Fair ten days ago, and I'm happy to report that this material has been holding me hostage all week. The lot consists of thirty or so nineteenth century sea charts. They're all in good condition, and they're certainly marketable, so they merited some individual attention. Naturally, the closer I looked, the more interesting they became. Many of them bore pencil markings of courses sailed, of dates, of sailing directions, and of notes about navigational sight lines and hazards. On closer inspection the dates grouped a... [more]

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Rare Book News

By Rich Rennicks

We round up interesting stories about the rare book world being discussed this week. Shakespeare's First Folios Go on Tour The Folger Shakespeare Library has anounced the cities that are getting a First Folio as part of their ambitious plan to put a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio on display in every state, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, in 2016. Read more to discover where your nearest First Folio will be... Preview Rare Book Week Look forward to Rare Book Week (which includes the 55th Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair) with this preview from Rare Book Magazine. ILAB to Mark World Book Day The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers are planning a series of Pop-Up Book Fairs around the world to mark UNESCO World Book Day on April 23. Many ABAA members are involved in the US events. Ephemera Society Annual Conference The Ephemera Society Annual Conference is coming up. Mark your calendars for March 20-22, 2015. Documentary: Inside the Harvard Depository Harvard maintains a huge book depository that few ever get to visit. Curious collectors can now take a virtual step inside this hidden library in a new documentary, Cold Storage, a digital offshoot of the Library Beyond the Book project by Jeffrey T. Snapp and Matthew Battles. Read more... William Morris Library Project Reaches Half-Way Stage The project to digitally catalog the legendary library of book collector and publisher William Morris (of Kelmscott Press fame) has passed the half-way mark. Unknown Copy... [more]

Measuring Your Social Media Success Whether you are just beginning your magical foray into the world of social media or have been tweeting for years, there comes a time when we all stop and wonder, “Is this thing on?” In other words, how can you tell if your posts are actually reaching anyone and generating more traffic to your website or just echoing back at you? For newbies and old hands alike, it is always a good idea to review your social media efforts to see what is working and where you can improve. Today we will consider some easy ways to get more mileage out of your daily posts and take a look at some powerful tools that can give you access to the data sets of your dreams... brace yourselves. Measuring your social media success can be as simple as becoming more mindful of your interactions with other users. One easy way to gauge your progress is to look at the number of engagements your posts are receiving. If you are on Facebook, are people consistently liking or commenting on your content? If you are more Twitter-inclined, are people re-tweeting your posts? Is there steady growth in the number of engagements and followers on your social media platforms or has that number been stagnant as of late? If your social media game needs a face-lift, here are a few tried and true methods to get back on track: 1. Use images. It is proven that posts that include visual material garner more likes, comments, and shares. Use this to your advantage. Not every post needs to incl... [more]

The ABAA's ever-steady Benevolent Committee, under the auspices of yours truly, will be roaming the aisles at the Oakland Book Fair this coming February 6th-8th, encouraging all to reach deep and channel their inner Carnegies (Andrew, not Dale). As there have been a few last-minute changes, I wanted to take this opportunity to update our readers on the opportunities we'll be providing to contribute to the Benevolent and Woodburn Funds throughout the weekend. First of all, I'll note with sadness that our annual Benefit Poker Tournament, which was a huge success in 2014 and which had been scheduled to take place Thursday night following the Exhibitors' Reception, has been cancelled. It was red tape, not a lack of enthusiasm, that doomed the tournament for this year, and I can promise all you high-rollers that we'll be dealing cards again in Pasadena in 2016. In the meanwhile, I hope all who planned on participating will consider donating their entry fees to the Woodburn Fund, which provides bookseller scholarships to the Rare Book School and the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. Having been personally involved with each of these entities — very personally involved, in the case of CABS — I can attest to the excellent work they do providing continuing education to both novice and experienced members of the antiquarian book trade. One look at the list of ABAA members admitted over the past five years, many of whom have been direct recipients of Woodburn scholarships and many ... [more]

Charles Agvent announces a new catalog dedicated to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the five Fireside Poets, was the most popular American poet of the 19th century, best known for works like Evangeline, The Song of Hiawatha, and "Paul Revere's Ride." He was also the first American to translate Dante's The Divine Comedy. We have just uploaded to our website 37 select items by Longfellow, including many SIGNED items: letters, photographs, and books, with some fine association copies, nearly all new arrivals.” The Lawbook Exchange has released several new lists: 30 Recent Acquisitions & Special Offers, December 2, 2014 30 Recent Acquisitions & Special Offers, December 9, 2014 30 Recent Acquisitions & Special Offers, December 16, 2014 30 Recent Acquisitions & Special Offers, December 23, 2014 33 Engravings, Lithographs and Original Artwork 31 Titles Relating to Debtor, Creditor, and Bankruptcy Law J.&J. Lugbrano Music Antiquarian's newest catalogue is The Jacob Lateiner Collection Part III: Mozart First & Early Editions. Beasley Books highlights a collection of IWW pamphlets, magazines and ephemera: Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Collection and the Charles H. Kerr Company's Pocket Library of Socialism series. Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts are pleased to announce Catalogue 66, featuring “Interesting Books in Historically Significant and Decorative Bindings, from the 15th Century to the Present.” Kenneth Rexroth: Painti... [more]

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Used Books of the Future

By Greg Gibson

Years ago a colleague named Owen Kubik sent me an enigmatic manuscript. After considerable headscratching I determined it was the journal of a young naval officer sent to the Pacific to capture a sociopath who had committed murder and mutiny on the whaleship Globe. We sold it to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and felt quite pleased with ourselves. Then it occurred to me that this manuscript would be an excellent frame for a new non-fiction book about the gory events aboard the Globe. Owing to the unexpected success of Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea, there was a bull market for maritime non-fiction books that year. I wrote a cracking good proposal and sent it off to my agent. She loved it, and several publishers loved it (because it closely resembled a book that had already proved to be successful) but there was a catch. Another writer had already sold a proposal for a book about the Globe, and he was being represented by the same agency that represented me. The idea of the same agency representing two competing authors writing about the same thing created a minor scandal in the publishing world. Many people considered it unethical. My agent, God bless her, didn't care what anyone else thought. She was young and brave, and had her eyes on the future. She sold my proposal to Little, Brown for $150,000. The resulting book, Demon of the Waters, came out at about the same time as the other fellow's book and, to everyone's considerable surprise, the two books demolished one a... [more]

Update on Proposed Internet Sales Tax Legislation Internet Sales Tax—What is it? Presently, catalog and online sellers must collect sales and use taxes only in states where they have a physical presence. In states where sellers don't have a physical presence, the responsibility falls on consumers to pay a use tax directly to the states in which they reside. Since the vast majority of consumers don't do that, legislation called The Marketplace Fairness Act has been proposed to shift the responsibility from consumers to sellers by allowing states to collect taxes from out-of-state “remote sellers” that have no physical presence in their state. Where does the proposed law stand now? In May 2013 the Senate, but not the House, passed the Marketplace Fairness Act. The Act contains an exemption for small businesses and calls for states to provide free software to aide online sellers in tax collection. Under it, states cannot collect taxes from “remote sellers with annual gross receipts in total U.S. remote sales not exceeding $1 million in the preceding calendar year.” In response, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee tasked with overseeing this proposal in the House, signaled his gross disapproval of the Senate's bill and issued his Seven Principles to guide drafting the House Bill. In December 2014, Goodlatte reaffirmed his position. What does this mean for my business? Two of Goodlatte's principles are relevant for members: Tech Neutral... [more]

Waste Not, Want Not: Social Media and Time Management When you are juggling an endless array of duties and priorities, as so many booksellers are, fitting yet another “thing” onto your already lengthy to-do list might produce the same effect as chopping onions. I would also bet that for many of us, when work gets extra stressful, social media is the first thing to go out the window. While dropping the ball happens to all of us on occasion, if I have done anything with these little blog posts, hopefully it has been to promote the idea that if you are engaging in social media, then it deserves the same commitment that you would put into other areas of customer care, such as answering inquiries promptly. Putting the soapbox aside now, there is one big distinction between your regular office duties and social media: social media is not confined to business hours. In effect, the clock never stops. How, ye gods, can one mortal keep up with such a beast?? Well, good news: being online 24/7 is impractical, not to mention physically impossible, so give yourself a break. Reaping the benefits of social media, contrary to what you might have been told, does not require you to be constantly plugged in. In fact, you would be surprised at what a small time investment can deliver. The trick is to get smarter about how you spend time online, and to know the difference between wasting your time and investing your time because believe me, it is all too easy to engage in the former while cla... [more]

Recently Anne and David Bromer, proprietors of Bromer Booksellers in Boston, made a $10,000 stock gift to the Antiquarian Booksellers' Benevolent Fund. It hasn't been my practice to single out contributors to our charitable funds for public thanks — but this gift is important on several levels and should be recognized publicly. First of all, I should point out the extraordinary generosity of a donation this size. The Bromer's gift is among the largest single bequests ever made to the Fund, and it adds signicantly to its reserve. This is important: for much of the past decade, grants made from the ABBF slightly exceeded incoming donations. That trend has now begun to reverse, and with gifts such as this one we can now begin condently to speak of a long-term goal of building a self-sustaining Benevolent Trust that will function in perpetuity. The Bromer's gift is also unprecedented in another way: until now, the ABBF had been set up only to accept gifts of cash; with this gift we can announce that the ABBF can, for the rst time, accept gifts of stock as well. This has certain tangible benets for both the Fund and for donors, especially those wishing to make larger gifts. If you'd like more information on how to make a gift of stock, please contact Susan Benne. I'm consistently amazed and humbled by the generosity our members have displayed, year-in, year-out, in their support of our Association's various benevolent activities. Whether through donations to the Antiquarian ... [more]