An Interview with IOBA Member (and ILAB President) Tom Congalton

“Book collecting is a vibrant, exciting and engaging pastime”An interview with ILAB President Tom Congalton

Tom is the owner of Between the Covers Rare Books LLC, which has one of the most fun and vibrant websites around. Through his work with the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, Rare Book School, the ABAA, and ILAB, as well as his presence at book fairs, he has done a tremndous amount to nurture newer book sellers, and to keep the trade alive and relevant.


Read the whole interview, and take heart from the closing Q & A. Although Tom speaks for ILAB, the same sentiments may apply to IOBA:

“What do you think about the future of our business?”

Everyday I meet people, both young and old, who are fascinated by what we do for a living. Rare book collectors have always been a very narrow slice of the population. I think the Internet has broadened our market and that market will develop greatly over the next decade or two. Booksellers will have to learn new tricks, develop new specialties, and utilize technology to broaden their markets. Collectors will develop as they always have – perhaps encountering a random book or object that attracts their attention, looking into it further, and eventually pursuing the objects of their desire – in some cases objects that they hadn’t even known existed.

I’m really very optimistic over the future of book collecting, although those who want it to function in the exact same way that has in the past couple centuries are probably going to be disappointed.

Here, ILAB can do a lot. We can continue to preserve the ethics and professionalism of our members – the things that make us the obvious portals for objects of rarity to collectors, libraries, and scholars. We can encourage the collegiality that allows our members to network with each other in order to help build collections that enhance our knowledge of both the past and the future. We can challenge ourselves and our collectors to use our imaginations to expand the boundaries of traditional book collecting. Some of my colleagues are selling archives of authors and scholars that consist almost entirely of computer data!

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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