Saturday, April 15, 2017

Does The ABAA Preserve Book History?

After recently attending the Antiquarian Book Fair in New York City in March, I realized that the show is one of the rare glimpses the public gets of old, rare or valuable books.  Some museums may have a handful of volumes on display at any given time, but the show allows a hands-on chance to feel or come within inches of books that are worth a lot of money.  Though the show’s goal is to sell millions of dollars’ worth of inventory, it also serves an important role in promoting a piece of our cultural history.

The show was sponsored, in part by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, which is headquartered in New York City.  The ABAA is a trade association that now boasts of over 450 members.  Founded in 1949, it performs an important function, as its members acquire and sell the highest quality fine and rare books, maps, documents, autographs, ephemera and prints at varying price points.

The ABAA helps set the market pricing for the treasure trove of books that are collected.  Its members use professional appraisers to properly assign a value for the wares it sells.  It hosts three fairs each year – New York, Boston, and alternately SF/LA.  Several of its members have published bibliographies, novels, articles, and literature about rare books and printed matter.  It also offers a digital newsletter available at

Where else can one be so close to some of the rarist, oldest, or most valuable books?

·         New York Public Library
·         American Antiquarian Society
·         Library of Congress
·         Morgan Library
·         Strand Books
·         The Free Library of Philadelphia 
      Boston Public Library 
      L.A. Public Library
·         University collections at major schools (Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, Yale)

Short of visiting the above-mentioned places or attending an auction, attending the Antiquarian Book Fair is a great way to get acquainted with books that are eight centuries old, first editions of works from iconic authors, and unusual books.

Bibliographies, linguists, publishers, editors, writers, cover designers, printers and historians are in Heaven when amidst historical, valuable, and important books, such as the ones displayed and sold at the fair.

I love books but don’t really collect them.  To objectify or worship them like gold or a commodity is not my style.  I like to own books that I can read and touch.  It’s in my house because of its contents, not its collector value.  But I understand that some people collect these treasures and in the end, they help preserve our beautiful culture and history.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby

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