With this issue, I happily and proudly assume the editorship of the IOBA’s (long neglected) Standard. And with our first new installment in more than two years, we also begin the tenth volume of The Standard, one that unveils what I hope will be only the beginning of many improvements to our august publication. But as with many things, before we can go forward, it helps to look back.
I have read every word of all of the listserv messages, the introductions and the unrequested advice. I have packed an umbrella for the frequent showers, a jacket for the air conditioning, an alarm clock and 100 business cards.
“The Colorado Seminar, which gives a great overview of the trade, is like undergraduate school,” said another bookseller who was in Colorado with me. “Rare Book School is like graduate school.” I remembered that description and I wondered how I would know I was ready to attend “graduate school” for antiquarian booksellers.
We started our bookstore in November, 2001. We had about 20,000 books to start. I thought that would last, like forever. I had no idea how fast you can go through books. De has a fine collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy. So my first exposure to book history is in the SF&F field and I must say I fell in love with them immediately. The art work is so exciting.
I started as a book dealer quite by accident back in the 1980s. As a collector of photography and other interesting item from Automobiles (Thunderbirds) to you name it I’ve have collected it. I have always had a passion for photography…I’ve been a collector of photography and art starting full force around 1988.
All of my life I have been a book collector and all of my adult life I wanted to open a second hand bookshop. I settled for school librarian and continued collecting and started a mail order catalogue which worked well for 15 years. I left my job and started selling books through markets and also a stall in a mixed antique business. I decided at the age of 60 that if I didn’t open a shop very soon it would be too late and started looking for premises. After several fruitless months I found the perfect place 5 minutes from my home.
The IOBA booksellers are gently tied to one another, even though much of what we do is rather solitary. Our days may be spent hunting for books, keying in data, and dealing with sales orders. The ‘Independent’ aspect of our work is significant. Paradoxically, we are united in our sense of personal freedom and charting our own course. When we buy a book (or a thousand) we rely on our personal intuition and knowledge to determine if we’ll be able to convert that book into a profit. Much of our day-to-day survival rests on our own shoulders.
But not entirely.
I had been hearing about the Colorado Antiquarian Book Market Seminar, as it is formally termed, for a number of years. Sometime a few years back I started thinking that it might be fun to go. So, with that in mind, I began following the emails and notices that showed up in various chat and news groups online. I gradually became aware of the occasional ads that appeared in book publications such as Fine Books and Collections and Book Source Magazine. This year I attended the 2006 seminar, which was held from August 5th through the 12th.
In years past, aspiring book dealers learned the trade by apprenticing with experienced ones. Today, with so few “bricks and mortar” antiquarian book shops in business, those entering the field must seek out other ways to master this complex and challenging profession. In terms of formal educational opportunities, many dealers look to the highly acclaimed Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar as a means of learning the nuts and bolts of the rare book marketplace. If you find yourself looking for an historical perspective of the rare book world or an academic approach to specific areas of the field, Rare Book School (RBS) is unquestionably a good choice.