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Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar – Day 6


Guest Blogger – Rick Ring
Winner of the AbeBooks Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar Scolarship

The last hurrah-we are all very ready to move on, but also sentimental for the friends we’ve made.

The sessions were less structured today, with more room for discussion and questions. Mike Ginsberg discussed (and reminisced about) book scouting in depth, emphasizing the need (when you enter a bookstore) to look on every shelf, to get down on your knees and look on the bottom shelves, to dig for that item you know is there, that thin pamphlet which has been passed over by other collectors and dealers, or the piece of ephemera at the bottom of a pile of paper. Every dealer has a story about finding a $10,000 item for less than $100, and it was great good fun to hear some of his.

Tom Congalton was next, and gave an exceedingly practical presentation on book fairs, including how much to tip the porters, how to set up your booth, what exhibiting and other fees to expect, what stock to choose, and several points of book fair etiquette: like always give the guy with the hand-truck full of boxes the right of way; make sure all books are priced, and that you give a consistent discount to dealers (offer what you expect to receive); and never, NEVER approach a customer in another dealer’s booth.

After the break, Kevin Johnson discussed the benefits and pitfalls of accepting books on consignment, outlining the different types of deal structure and terms that have worked for him in the past, and what to avoid. Chris Volk spent a very necessary hour on “accounting 101,” which is always daunting (but as necessary as having good stock) to booksellers.

The afternoon roundtable was a great final roundup, and we covered topics like ethics and professionalism, which is (according to the faculty), the bedrock of the trade. If there is one point we were all brought to time and time again, it was that relationships with your colleagues and a high moral conduct in doing business are the warp and weft of the tapestry that is the antiquarian book trade. Ignore one or both of these, and the whole system begins to unravel. The tapestry is a beautiful one, and its perpetuation has served civilized society by ensuring that the physical record of its existence will be valued and preserved, to inspire and educate future generations.

Definitely a week well spent for this humble librarian.

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