Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book News Notes From The ABA -U.K.

The July issue of the newsletter of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, the trade organization of Great Britain, has just passed under our notice. The aroma is always pleasing, with notes of ripe tartness, irreverence, and, gulp, reverence when appropriate. A few news items:

Dubious Lemonade Out of Lemons

Two 19th century albums with blank leaves were recently presented to a U.K. dealer for appraisal. In poor condition, their value was reckoned at more than nothing but less than zero. Taken aback, their owner beseached, "But surely, the blank pages would be very useful to forgers?"

• Take Yer Anglo-Saxon Approach and Shove It!

The bookshops in the Latin Quarter of Paris are under siege. Unfortunately, not by customers. Rather, by escalating rents. Many have closed, others to follow. But this is Paris, so City Hall has gotten busy, buying up vacant properties to let them out at reasonable rents to small bookshops and publishing firms.

Mayor Bernard Delanoe declared that "these local shops are the economy, the employment, but also a way of life." The Anglo-Saxon solution - presumably to let 'em die a natural death by market strangulation - he declared to be "an insult to our soul, an insult to our identity and our economic interests."

Book lovers, Anglo-Saxon or otherwise, who, in reaction to France's criticisms of the U.S.'s Iraq invasion, eschewed all things French may now chew French fries once again in support of this action.

France: Love her or livre, the dame has class.

• Is The Premium Primo?

A lengthy piece is headlined: "Joint Buying At Auction."

Whether at Christies, Sotheby's, Bloomsbury, Swann, etc., we eagerly await the auction catalog for that sale. The buds, uh, bids, should be of interest . How high will they go?

The article is actually about secret auction rings. ("Yes! Here's my cereal box-top and 50¢ RUSH my secret auction decoder ring to me pronto so I can immediately enjoy the benefits of illegal collusion!").

• PBFA Cricketeers Triumph Over ABA

I've just spent twenty minutes reading a two page report on the recent cricket match between members of the PBFA and ABA.

It was a delight. Yet I have no idea what I just read. Amongst other things, somebody's "4 overs went for 34 runs." Don't tell his mother.

The final score: PBFA: 197 runs for 6, 28.5 overs. ABA: 196 runs for 3, 30 overs.

Heavy, ongoing runs, apparently, remain an issue.

Afterward, "a fine tea was consumed." Bought at auction? 

• Final Numbers on 2010 Olympia Antiquarian Book Fair

The averaged-out take for total number of exhibitors was £3,269,645 ($4,910,887).

The averaged-out take for total number of exhibitors at the California and New York Antiquarian Book Fairs? Consult the oracle at Delphi. The actual, definitive results of these fairs continue to be an  ongoing mystery (like cricket) but the simple yet extremely important collection of sales data so we know exactly what occurred - as opposed to cryptic, vague and non-committal verbal reporting - has yet to be implemented.

Really, this has become silly and something of an embarrassment. Wake up, this is a business. What could possibly be an issue when sales report forms would be - as in the U.K. - anonymous?

• A Book Is Not a Gadget

Nobel Prize laureate Nadine Gordimer presented a rousing speech at the opening of the Olympia Fair. An excerpt:

"There is no substitute for the book and it would be a great deprivation and danger if the book should disappear and be replaced by something with a battery...with a gadget you are always dependent on power. A book won't fall apart, you can read it on a mountain or in a bus queue. The printed word is irreplaceable and much threatened... reading the image is different from reading the text in a book."

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  1. Amen to Gordimer's sentiment!

  2. Funny how different the perspectives are between the English and French. At a bus stop in the UK, I met a quirky little old English lady-- she was a character-- I always chuckle when I recall her declaring: The French are our natural enemies!


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