SLAM articles

  • The times they are a-changin' in the rare book trade 

    The times they are a-changin' in the rare book trade
    Published 22 Oct 2015

    Moved by this conference in Lucca, I had the chance of dealing with some incunabula belonging to Martini, whose library is considered one of the richest private collections of Italian literature in the world. Reconsidering them one year after Norbert’s presentation at Lucca, invites me to consider how our profession has been changing. As there has been enough talking of stolen books, forgeries, laws and export licenses, I would like to reflect on the evolution of the booksellers’ job along the 20th century.

  • The Rare Book Trade - Hit Me Again, Please 

    The Rare Book Trade - Hit Me Again, Please
    Published 05 Jun 2015

    Thus the inadequacies of the general used book store concept, circa 1980, led to the development of specialties at Ten Pound Island. Thus the failure of those specialties to meet the economic demands of an escalating real estate market drove Ten Pound Island out of the retail trade in 1993. Thus the computer and the fax machine put an end to TPI's flourishing postcard-driven nautical book search operation, which itself - owing to the need for a place to store the thousands of books accumulated in the course of this evolution – put TPI back in the retail business. Thus the rise of the Internet and the degradation in the value of low end maritime books, which had hitherto been Ten Pound Island's stock in trade, resulted in TPIs penultimate exit from the retail trade. Thus the paradoxical combination of rising cost and increased availability of rare books drove TPI into manuscripts, ephemera and documents. Thus the failure of provincial book fairs, which had hitherto been a major source of sales and stock, forced TPI into further dependence upon the Internet and the cultivation of institutional customers. Thus sales at TPI dwindled from thousands of mid range transactions to hundreds of larger ones. Thus the intervals between cash infusions increased. Thus the owner of TPI woke up one morning at 3 am with his hair on fire, recalling theorem #1 and thinking, “I've got to get more low end stuff out there on the market, to fill in the gaps between big hits.

  • Some Thoughts on the Antiquarian Book Trade 

    Some Thoughts on the Antiquarian Book Trade
    Published 15 Feb 2013

    "At first glance the rare book trade is often believed to be solid, but complacent, backward and immune to changes. However, the world of antiquarian bookselling changes as rapidly as the fashion industry, and the tastes of book collectors change as quickly as the tastes for movies, plants or pets." Dieter Tausch, President of the Austrian Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (VAO), shares with us some thoughts on the past and the future of the antiquarian book trade.

  • What Future For Rare Books ? 

    What Future For Rare Books ?
    Published 22 Oct 2010

    The anticipated death of the book is not a new phenomena. We recall that the book published in 1967 by the Canadian Marshall MacLuhan under the title "The Gutenberg Galaxy" dealt with this matter. Over the years we have seen that the electronic revolution has not really had the effect it had been predicted to have. We may also recall the cover of a magazine which appeared in the '90s and which referred to the answer of Gutenberg to MacLuhan in the form of an arm gesture of extreme vulgarity. Desktop Publishing did not finally kill the published book. It simply vulgarised the publishing proces. For us who are interested in the book as such, we feel that the aesthetics of the book may have suffered but not its productions in terms of quantity.

  • Virtual "Kultur" 

    Virtual "Kultur"
    Published 16 Feb 2010

    Just back from the Stuttgart Book Fair, I cannot resist sharing some mischievous thoughts inspired by the observation of a surrealist stand near the entrance of the exhibition.