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Competitive Altruism in Book Selling (CABS)

Timothy Doyle

The Summer 2016 issue of The Standard features several pieces on the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (CABS), including an essay on the IOBA scholarship program, and accounts from three IOBA Scholarship attendees of the 2016 seminar. Rounding out the issue is a piece on book fairs by Jonathan Smalter, and a fluff piece (literally!) profiling Blake, shop cat at Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company. Paul Shelley of Churchill Book Collector attended the seminar as an IOBA scholarship recipient, and describes it as an annual event where “successful professionals volunteer their time to share most of the secrets of their…

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IOBA Scholarship Contest Description

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Why does IOBA offer scholarships to seminars and classes for our members? Because IOBA wants all its member booksellers to be the best booksellers they can be. Recently, members Mike Brenner of Brenner’s Books and Paul Shelley of Churchill Book Collector took advantage of this opportunity and recently returned from a week in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where they attended the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (CABS). Their perspective on bookselling will have widened, they will have met a faculty whose bookselling knowledge is deep and varied, and they will have made friends with fellow seminarians who include librarians and book collectors, along with other booksellers. These are good relationships to forge! How can you win one of these scholarships? All you have to do is email IOBA Scholarship Contest early in 2017 for next summer’s classes. We’ll let you know what information you need to supply. Scholarships can also be used…

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2016 CABS Report: Paul Shelley, Churchill Book Collector

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Firstly, let me express again my thanks to the IOBA scholarship committee and to the membership at large for their support with the scholarship that I received. As Mike alluded to, CABS benefits the entire trade, not just the people who attend. Mike put it very elegantly when he talked about the “vibrant, vital ecosystem” that is the bookselling trade, and CABS does a great deal to foster and support this. So, what makes CABS so great? There are many dimensions to it. *Faculty* When people outside the trade asked me what I was doing in Colorado Springs this week, I told them that I was going to listen to established, very successful professionals volunteer their time to share most of the secrets of their commercial success with their up and coming competition. I can’t imagine there are many other professions in which this would happen. The sheer breadth of…

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CABS Report: Mike Brenner, Brenner Books

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“A short discourse on the fundamental benefits of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar for those persons engaged in the commerce and compiling of all printed and other matter that collectively is commonly known as the ‘Book Trade’” or,   “How a Week in Newport in the Rockies Made Me a Better Bookseller”. Ok, clever titling aside, (and the humor doesn’t get any better I’m afraid), I wanted to take a moment to share what I got out of CABS. Paul Shelly, a new friend and colleague from Edmonton, did a terrific job of detailing what this year’s seminarians experienced this past week; 54 of us by my count which we were told was one of the biggest classes to date. Regrettably, I did not take many photos though this one does sum up Paul’s comment about the spartan digs. Cinder Block Couture is sure to be the latest craze this season…

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CABS Report: Edward Markiewicz, Montgomery Rare Books & Manuscripts

CABS Report: Edward Markiewicz, Montgomery Rare Books & Manuscripts

It is time to unbuckle my seatbelt after an exhilarating week at the 2016 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. My attendance at the seminar can only be described through a litany of superlative accolades on how intellectually stimulating and educationally beneficial the experience was for me and my 52 classmates. The record level of attendance attests to not only the growing professional reputation of the Seminar, but as a testament to the health and vibrancy of the book industry. The broad diversity of the attendance included brick and mortar booksellers, online booksellers (as well as hopefuls in both those categories), collectors, librarians, auction house employees, archivists, bookbinders and even an author who wanted to ensure that his current novel contained accurate details of the trade. As far as the faculty is concerned, we could not have been more fortunate to share in the wisdom and scholarship of the assembled. The week…

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Shop Cat – Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company

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As told by Blake to Colleen Barrett, Cataloguer Blake joined the staff of the Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company (PRB&M), an antiquarian bookstore in northeast Philly, in late 2011. This loveable tabby cat had big paws to fill as her predecessor Sessa had many admirers, his own email address, and even his own division of the business: “SessaBks,” which continues to offer good used, “medium rare,” and simply serendipitous stock complementing our core early books of Europe & the Americas. After much thought, PRB&M’s proprietors Cynthia Buffington and David Szewczyk decided to name her after the English poet, painter, and printer William Blake, a surprisingly fitting name considering the variety of activities in which Blake participates — not to mention that some people say she’s a “tiger”! Blake spends her days here at The Arsenal patrolling the bookstore, which served for over 100 years as U.S. Army officers’ quarters…

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On the Importance of Antiquarian Book Fairs

On the Importance of Antiquarian Book Fairs

I would like to take a moment to talk about antiquarian book fairs: what they are; who attends them; where they have been and where they are going; why they are important; and how I as a bookseller fit into all this. My hope is that this will provide a touchstone for various groups: those who are unfamiliar with book fairs should be able to read this, understand their purpose, and decide whether they are interested in visiting one; those who have shopped at book fairs before should learn a few handy tips to make their next fair more enjoyable and successful; booksellers who have not exhibited at fairs in the past may be encouraged to give it a whirl; and booksellers who have hundreds of book fairs under their proverbial belts may be inspired to encourage those just starting out to explore them. Like many booksellers, I have attended…

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