Bookselling

Last December, the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at The Library of Congress held an excellent symposium on authenticity. “Authenticity,” was a day-long program that looked at one of the most difficult subjects facing libraries, private collectors, and booksellers today -- judging the genuineness of printed materials. The symposium focused on the research which curators, scholars, and conservators have been conducting regarding all elements of printing and book production. The speakers included specialists who are at the cutting edge of research on printing techniques, paper manufacture, binding construction, and typography, as well as scholars, conservators, scientists, and booksellers who are dedicated to establishing methods for determining authenticity in the field of rare books, prints, and manuscripts. The Library of Congress has released a webcast of the symposium, which you can view below or on their website. [more]

For the past five years the New Bedford Whaling Museum has been sponsoring a scrimshaw show in conjunction with their annual Scrimshaw Symposium. This year they opened the show up to include a wider range of maritime antiques and books, and I figured “Why not?” I thought there was a fair chance that the show, which was taking place in the lobby of the museum, would be clogged with clueless tourists, but since the event only lasted for a day I knew my suffering would be limited. Happily no suffering was involved. The show was crowded most of the day with a niche audience, knowledgeable and highly focused. I met many old friends from the whaling world, Alan Granby, in repose and made a few new ones. Most importantly, I met new customers. Their purchases were relatively modest, but their interest was deep and they were well informed. I see a happy future for us. I'm always talking about getting out of the rut and exploring new venues, and this was a perfect example of what a brilliant idea it is – when it works. (Don't even ask me about the last Nantucket Antiques show I did, an event crawling with dandies in pink pants and neck knotted cashmere sweaters escorting pudgy ladies clutching lightship baskets. The reading habits of that crowd maxed out at 50 Shades of Grey.) It was a good whale week for other reasons as well. On my way to the show I bought a book I've always wanted and never before managed to own. But that's kind a of a “watch what you wish for” situation, ... [more]

This past April, the biggest news to hit the antiquarian book trade in roughly 400 years became public: my colleagues Dan Wechsler and George Koppelman, booksellers in New York City, unveiled a copy of a sixteenth century dictionary which could, quite plausibly, have once belonged to William Shakespeare — complete with annotations possibly in the bard's hand and many tantalizing, if ultimately circumstantial, linguistic and stylistic links to his plays. I'll leave it to better minds than mine to make a final determination regarding the dictionary's provenance. Wechsler and Koppelman have laid out an entire volume of compelling evidence in their just-published book, Shakespeare's Beehive (a copy of which I've just ordered); the Folger Shakespeare Library, the New Yorker, and numerous book bloggers have already begun weighing in, and I'm sure many more scholarly voices will be added to the fray over the coming months and years. I hope it's years, not months. I hope it's real, real enough at least to merit many years of scholarship – I really, really do. But regardless what this volume turns out to be, whether the hundreds of annotations on its 400-year-old pages turn out to be the long-sought mainline to Shakespeare's creative process or just a host of happy coincidences, the whole wonderful escapade serves to remind me that this pursuit my colleagues and I are engaged in, which so many days feels like little more than a glorified exercise in rag-picking, has resonances far... [more]

Registration for the 2014 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar is in full swing! In its 36th year, CABS "provides an opportunity for leading specialists tot share their expertise and experience with booksellers, librarians, and collectors in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market, both antiquarian and modern." I've attended myself and can attest that it is a wonderful program, lovingly referred to in the trade as "bookseller boot-camp". This year the seminar runs from August 3-8th. The keynote speaker is Michael Zinman and the speciality dealer is ABAA member Brian Cassidy (Brian Cassidy, Bookseller). The rest of the faculty this year includes ABAA members Lorne Bair, Nina Musinsky, and Rob Rulon-Miller, Jr., Terry Belanger, Sally Burdon, Daniel De Simone, Dan Gregory, and Steven Escar Smith. It's been said time and time again: CABS is a must for anyone entering the antiquarian book trade or those interested in taking their bookselling business to the next level. Interested in attending but money is tight? There's a $250 savings for participants who enroll prior to 5/31. In addition, there are a number of scholarships offered including the ABAA Woodburn Fund's Ed Glaser Scholarship, which you can apply for at apply.abaa.org. [more]