Anyone with an interest in the role of antiquarian bookselling in relation to the broader study of rare books, bibliography, and early printing will want to read an article recently published by Fabrizio Govi in the Italian scholarly journal TECA entitled “Online Bibliographical Tools for the Antiquarian Book Trade. Their History, Use and Impact.”
A well established and highly respected Italian bookseller from Modena, Govi explores his subject broadly from both economical and historical perspectives. As the origins of online antiquarian bookselling slip further into memory the latter of these has become increasingly of interest, at least to me.
Sharing that interest, Govi began his research by identifying 17 different international websites that have focused primarily on the used and rare book market. He then attempted to contact all of them to request information about how they started and what information they might offer about the online book market as it exists today. Only three of these chose to respond. Nevertheless, Govi was able to dig through a variety of primary and secondary sources to compile a significant amount of interesting data on the origins of the antiquarian market and how it became what it is today. He tells me that what he has just published is only a preliminary study. I’m encouraged that there could be even more to come.
You will find the article here:
We are finally ready to launch our newly redesigned website. It’s time to celebrate at last.
We hope you will like our new look and feel, but appearance is probably among the least important changes we have made. Alasdair has added many useful and unique features that I’m sure will make your book hunting both easier and more productive. Among them we hope you will be pleased to discover the following:
- Our site is now mobile friendly and easy to navigate across the full range of devices from smart phones to desktops.
- We have added a sidebar to the left-hand column of the search results page that lets you examine and filter the data received in your search results. This provides a distribution breakdown for location; sources; first editions; signed, and dust jacketed copies; PODs; ISBNs and illustrated items. Use these to create refined and targeted results when initial results are too numerous to read to the end.
- Searches can be limited to books shipped from specific countries only. Multiple countries can be selected, but if only a limited number of satisfactory results are returned from your home country you can try looking elsewhere guided by the totals shown in the sidebar .
- Our popular library search tool has been updated to allow users to mark their most frequently used catalogues and automatically group them at the top of the list.
- Browsers can limit their searches to illustrated items only.
- Timed online book auctions are now also being included in searches. At present this is limited to eBay and Catawiki, but we expect to be adding other auctions in the future. Libribot will start searching those auctions soon.
- We can now block from all your search results any booksellers you may wish to exclude. Clicking on the round “stop” symbol next to the dealer’s name is all you need to do. We are also often able to recognise when one bookseller is listing the same books using different names. In that case we will consolidate the multiple listings under a single name, and if you choose to exclude one of those sellers then we will exclude them all.
- On our home page we now have a simple search form (author, title, keyword) as well as our usual advanced form that includes over 20+ filtering options.
- We now have a flexible selection tool that simplifies several bulk operations including Libribot and clipboard management, special list creation, social media sharing, search result pruning and social media sharing.
This is only a partial list of the new features and improvements that are being introduced today. If you want to explore even further how to make the most of viaLibri we suggest that you try reading the lengthy search help pages that have also been updated to accompany our redesign. You will find them here:
And more exciting things are on the way. In the future we plan to continue adding new features as they are developed rather than waiting to group them together in a single major update, as we are doing today. Going forward, we plan to always have some new feature or upgrade in the works. The “beta” badge you see next to our logo reflects that. We will probably remove the badge before too long, but the condition it refers to should be perpetual. And for the substance of that future content we hope that the valuable suggestions and feedback we have always received from our users in the past will also be perpetual. The newly redesigned website you see today has come from there.
The Grolier Club recently hosted an important bibliographic exhibition entitled “Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection.” The collection focuses on early and rare books demonstrating the under-appreciated activities of working women in all areas and periods. Baskin gave a fascinating talk on her collection which can be viewed using the link above. It is well worth the time.
While the exhibition was taking place Baskin also lead several walking tours of 170 selected books from her collection that were on display. Those tours have now ended, but we can thank the Grolier club for also recording a video of one of them and making it available to all of us via Vimeo.
We can also highly recommend the illustrated catalogue that was published to accompany the exhibition, which had been held previously at its home in the David M. Rubenstein Library at Duke University. You can buy it here:
I was pleased to be asked to present a paper at the recent symposium “Who Owned This,” sponsored by the ILAB, ABAA and Grolier Club on 5 March, 2019. The event took place at the Grolier Club with 120 registrants in the audience and, I am told, an early and lengthy waiting list.
The 8 speakers spoke on various subjects relating to the difficult but timely problems faced by booksellers and librarians in connection with provenance, theft and forgery. I was honored by being assigned the closing position and used it to consider these subjects with a particular regard to the use of databases to protect from theft, recover stolen books and establish provenance. At the end I ventured a few general speculations about how the database technologies of the future may be even more useful for these purposes, including a preview of some of the things that viaLibri will be doing to make use of these technologies. The title of my paper was: “Provenance Meets Big Data – Do they have a future together?”
The full symposium was videotaped by the Grolier Club and will, in the future, be available on their website. I will make an announcement of that here when it happens.
In the meantime, a few colleagues who had not been able to attend the symposium have asked me to send them a printed version of my paper. On the chance that there might be one or two others who remain curious about what I had to say I have posted the full text of my presentation elsewhere on my blog. You can read it here:
Provenance Meets Big Data: Will they have a future together?
Comments have been enabled for that page and will be very welcome.
Early June has long been an important spot on the calendars of bibliophiles around the world. The original source of interest came from the fact that it always marked a unique concentration of opportunities to buy and sell books during a busy schedule of London book fairs and auctions. Those events alone were enough to lead a diverse flock of booksellers, collectors and other bibliophiles to converge annually on London, like swallows to Capistrano.
Recent years, however, have seen a greatly expanded scope and duration for what has now become known as Rare Books London. An impressive cohort of libraries and other bibliophilic groups have now joined their bookselling friends to organise an 18 day “fesitval of old and rare books” running from May 24 to June 10. In addition to the well-known book fairs and auctions, their schedule of events now includes 18 talks, 10 tours, and a special performance based on the writings of Samuel Johnson. More events will likely be added as the dates approach.
Information about everything that will be happening can be found on the RARE BOOKS LONDON website. Nearly all the events are free, but for many of them an advance ticket is required and spaces may be limited. It will be smart to reserve your places soon. Links for booking all the activities will be found on the website.
Rare Books London is a great idea and we are happy to be able to support it. If you think so too then you can also help support it and contribute to its success by posting, tweeting, pinning or just plain writing about it anywhere you can. After that I hope I will see you there.
If you are a wandering bibliophile who will happen to be in New York City at the end of the month you should count yourself fortunate. Bibliography Week 2017 will be taking place there from January 23 to 28 and a there is a full schedule of events that you should find of interest. Lectures, exhibits and receptions are all on the list. The event does not appear to have its own website, but a full program of events will be found on the Grolier Club website.
We would love to be there ourselves, but that week we instead find ourselves in Stuttgart instead, where two major and long-lived book fairs will again be taking place.
It does not sound like it will be aweek for staying home.