ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION: NEWSLETTER
You Like That Virtual or Real?
--an essay by James Thomas, Jr.
you seen the recent Kindle commercials? In one commercial, you
see a young woman reading a traditional book, and in the other
she’s carrying a large bag on her way to shop for books.
In both commercials a young man shows her the advantages of the
Kindle. Not to be outdone, she tells him the advantages of the
traditional book--things like being able to bend page corners
to mark her place, or lug around a heavy bag of books! Now, those
of us viewing one of these commercials probably get a laugh from
this, but the young man in the commercial doesn’t. Being
the calm, rational type, which is the point really, he remains
silent until the young woman realizes the absurdity of her preference
for traditional books. In one commercial, she drops her book bag,
grabs her friend’s Kindle, and starts to read it like it
was her own.
commercials are simple and direct (with a subtle touch of “dumb
blond” humor), and the obvious message is that the smart
people forget real books and switch to e-book devices. After all,
who wouldn’t be impressed by their capacity to download
and store hundreds of titles, and their ability to adjust print
size? And of course, travelling with e-books is so convenient
and light. Yes, the advantages are undeniable to any reasonable
person, but is there something to be said for real books? I believe
there is, and it has nothing to do with bending page corners.
like us to think past clever commercials for a moment, and recall
something of the place books have held in civilization. For centuries
and on every continent where the printed word has existed, books
have been treasured. Men and women have traveled great distances
to find them, spent fortunes to obtain them, and risked their
lives to preserve them. Books have been the ark of ideas that
liberate the human soul and change the world, which is why oppressive
authorities always seek to destroy them. More enlightened societies
have built large cathedrals (i.e., libraries) in their honor.
Books have been on trial in our courts of law, and occupied a
central place in our houses of worship. They have revealed the
depths of human depravity, but also splendors which approach the
divine. We experience a sense of this great history in bookstores
and libraries. Visually and spatially, we encounter a profound
truth ----- that knowledge and creativity are as old as the human
race, and much larger than any one of us.
devotees of the e-book argue that their devices can carry on this
legacy. Perhaps, but I believe the qualities which make the e-book
so representative of our time also make it inadequate to this
task. Even before a real book is opened we see the artistry of
the cover or dust jacket, which is designed to appeal to our aesthetic
sense. The texture of the cover, and even the book’s weight,
inform us of its physical quality. Leafing through the pages,
we feel the durability and smoothness of the paper. Inside, the
lettering, and illustrations if present, can be a pleasure to
behold. An electronic device can only borrow images and words,
having no intrinsic worth. The book on the other hand is a thing
of value in itself. What it brings us can be destroyed with it,
but not separated from it.
my private library I have dozens of books from the 1800s. They’ve
endured well over a century and are capable of lasting long after
you and I are gone. What about e-book devices? If you’ve
purchased one, and you may have had good reasons for doing so,
will it be around a century from now, still intact and readable?
It’s more likely you’ll have to discard it within
15 years, along with all the books you’ve stored there.
You see, like so many other devices and machines created in the
last 50 years, e-books aren’t built to last. The fate of
these devices could be to become obsolete even before they expire,
replaced by some “superior” technology.
making of these devices, I’m certain, grew from a natural
desire to find new ways of making money. And yet, I don’t
think this fully explains the desire some have to create a world
without real books. Could it be that book publishers encouraged
the trend to eliminate physical books by producing increasingly
poor quality books in the 20th century in order to maximize their
profits? One could argue this made physical books seem nearly
as disposable as the daily newspaper. Then again, perhaps we encouraged
this trend by thinking that knowledge should come cheap. A vast
number of us don’t appreciate the effort it takes to produce
a work of scholarship or literary art; so just maybe our attempts
to eliminate the space books occupy reflects the value we place
on what they contain.
want more for future generations than electronic devices and virtual
images doesn’t require being a parent, but the issues raised
here must be of special concern to those of you who are parents.
Is it science fiction or prophecy to say we might someday replace
real statues with holographic ones? Instead of real paintings,
we might have virtual paintings on our walls with hundreds of
options to choose from (already flat screen televisions have replaced
paintings over many fireplaces). Generations to come might one
day feel that viewing a sunset on an electronic screen (perhaps
in a darkened room) is as good as stepping outside to see one.
This essay has been about books, but it’s also about much
me it has been a privilege to visit and study in many libraries,
as I hope it has been for you. They are sanctuaries of peace and
civility. Shopping in many bookstores throughout the country has
brought me even more pleasure. What I lament is the ongoing disappearance
of so many of these sacred (yes, sacred) places, many of which
closed before I knew of them. If we really understood what librarians
and booksellers have done for us, perhaps monuments would be erected
in their memory. I think they would say the best “monument”
is that the rest of us value books as they have.
like to think that in some ultimate sense, the future of the book
is already settled. An inspired writer once told us (Revelation
20:12) that there are books in Heaven.
at a rare book auction. by Florence Shay
Reprinted with permission of The Caxtonian
warning... Sold for $750 to 77.” Recently, I attended an
auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on Lake Street, near Ogden
Avenue, in Chicago. I hadn’t been to an auction in a long
time. This auction was Modern Age. Seated along one wall were
eight good looking young men and women, all smartly dressed in
black. Six were attending the phones. Two were at computers responding
to live online bids. On three walls were large videos displaying
the current item with its catalogue number. At the podium stood
the auctioneer, Leslie Hindman. Standing at her side was the person
recording the sales. There were successive auctioneers during
A small crowd
of us were seated attentively with catalogues in lap. Although
about 55 chairs were set up, I couldn’t gauge the attendance
because people came and went. The categories of offerings were
varied enough so that you could time your attendance with the
approximation of their being called up. I chose a back aisle seat
as an observer (with the Caxtonian in mind). Someone wanted the
same spot so he plucked a chair from the floor and put it behind
me. Now he had the back aisle seat where he could bid unseen.
There was a bidder I watched, front row, aisle seat, who got every
damn lot he unobtrusively bid on. He looked familiar, and when
I asked, someone identified him as a Caxton Club member. Way to
atlases, maps, travel books, military history, autographs, literature,
big lots of Franklin Library, Limited Editions Club. Sets in leather
bindings. Posters--WW II and circus posters, coins and stamps.
Also included in the catalog were Elvis Presley embalming instruments
and Elvis Presley post mortem articles.
had to weather a four-way competition for a sale. There was the
bidding from the floor, the live bids coming by phone, other live
bids coming in by computer, and the auctioneer was holding bids
that had come in by mail or otherwise, a top bid rather than participating
in the escalating numbers. It moved fast. I discovered only later
that I had not understood the code for a book not reaching its
minimum and being withdrawn. An explosive Darn, or a whimper of
pain would have been a clue. Instead the auctioneer said, “Bought
in,” or “Passed.” The catalog number will be
omitted from the Prices Realized sheet we’d get later in
the mail. Am I the only one who didn’t know this?
an item I found engaging at the viewing. It was a piece of furniture
built to hold the two elephant folio Audubon books upright. The
Audubons, Viviparous Quadrupeds of America, had facsimile prints,
but the package was awesome. It was lacquered dark wood with a
10” wide base, standing about 3’ high and about 24”
wide. God knows how one would remove the heavy books to enjoy
the beautiful color prints. Estimate, $3000-5,000.
excitedly for it to be auctioned but the action was so fast that
I missed it. Afterwards, I found out why I missed the bidding.
There was none. There were no bids; it did not make its minimum,
and was returned to the seller. Well, I suppose it was a lot of
money for two books in a tall skinny odd bookcase. Maybe with
a crocheted antimacassar and a bowl of plastic flowers?
And the Elvis
lots? One offered a needle injector, aneurysm hooks, and an eye
liner pencil among the nine items ($6000-8000), and the second
lot offered a toe tag and a coffin shipping invoice among its
seven items ($4000- $6000). Although offered in the catalog, they
were withdrawn from the sale because the provenance of the items
could not be verified.
I got the
three lots I impulsively bid on: a lot of 19 Franklin Library
books with great titles, wonderful for people looking around helplessly
in the shop for a low priced, fancy looking gift. Also, a very
attractive four volume leather bound set, Short Stories on Great
Subjects. Back at the shop I opened Volume I to price it and there
was my very own handwriting with the same price I was poised to
the third item just to have it. I will frame it for people to
read. It is a handwritten contract dated 1842 making arrangements
for the slave owner to sell his skilled slave, named Race, about
30-35 years, for $700 to another man who was currently renting
him from the owner for $125 per year for carpentry work. The handwriting
is difficult, but I will try to decipher it further.
expensive book sold was Lewis & Clark’s History of the
Expedition to the Sources of the Missouri. It was enhanced by
important ownership signatures and presentation inscriptions.
Including buyer’s premium it reached $48,800, way over the
estimated $8,000-12,000. The runner up, price wise, was Mercator’s
Atlas, 1636, two folio volumes. Missing was the map of Transylvania.
(Hey, Dracula, give it back!) It sold for, again including buyer’s
premium, $35,380, at the low end of the $30,000-50,000 estimate.
The Sea Wolf in first edition, first issue, was one of only two
known copies. Wouldn’t it be exciting to own this book for
that reason alone? The catalogue indicates the other copy as “London’s
own personal copy.” That’s a curious statement. Since
London is long dead, was it buried with him? This copy was described
as Scarce. Understatement? Estimate: $4,000–6,000. Bought
in, Passed. The auction house is no longer accepting credit cards.
I asked whether they had had a nasty experience leading to that
change, but no, it was a financial decision that is being adopted
by the auction industry. The charge is 3% and they were reluctant
to levy the burden on each winner, and didn’t want to assume
the extra expense themselves. I didn’t bring a check to
pay for my purchases, but since I have already bought from them,
or because I’ve been in business in town long enough to
show responsibility, I was allowed to carry mine home with a check
to follow in the mail.
had gone quickly. The auction was businesslike, brisk, straightforward,
the olden days? When the auctioneer, William (Bill) Hanzel of
Hanzel Auctioneers, knew everyone by name? When he wheedled one
more bid out of you? I remember the jeweled Kelmscott Chaucer.
It had reached $10,000 and I held my breath as top bidder. And
Mr. Hanzel said, “Come on, Florence, don’t let them
get it--give me one more bid.” And I said weakly, “Wasn’t
that my bid?” No, it wasn’t. A team of two looked
at me, stolid, as Hanzel said, “Look at them, they are folding,
you should have it, one more bid.” I collapsed. I was the
one to fold. It was all theatre in those days. I still regret
having missed my cue.
day, everyone was bidding like crazy for mediocre books and dreary
box lots, and one new face on the crowd was getting each lot.
At the break I asked what was going on. “Oh,” I was
told, “he’s a buyer for a new dealer in town, and
he’s determined to get every lot. We’ll never be able
to buy anything here again, and he hasn’t a clue about books.
So we’re driving up the prices to dry him up and get him
out of the auctions.” It worked. We never saw him again.
Once a collector
dumped a pile of cash in my lap. “Get me lot #28. These
guys know I buy all the photography. They hate me so they keep
bidding me up. Let’s see if I get it cheaper if you’re
my secret bidder.” It felt good keeping my paddle in the
air. It reached a high price but fair, and I won it. The fool
jumped up and down and screamed, “I got it! I got it cheap!”
So I couldn’t shill for him anymore.
If you lost
track you hollered out, “What number are we at?” After
frenzied bidding, when you won the item, you would be congratulated,
when really, all it meant was that you had more money. One could
be congratulated for that alone, I suppose.
house, Phillip’s, held a onetime auction in Chicago. A uniformed
man stood guard at the door of a small annex off the main viewing
room. As I peered around him, he said, “You don’t
want to go in there, ma’am.” He whispered, “It’s
pornography.” Lying, I said, “I was requested to view
it for a customer.” He moved aside disapprovingly. Such
collections are delicately called Erotica. They are still “dirty”
books, but arty, and admittedly, fun to look at.
like every business, changes through the years. Call me sentimental,
but I remember with nostalgia when there were No phones, No computers,
No video pictures on the walls. Just camaraderie. Ah, the olden
days! In the new lingo, they are Bought in, Passed.
March 24, 2010
Ephemera From the Past
of the Bookworks in Evansville, Wisconsin, has kindly sent us
of two postcards announcing Midwest Bookhunters book fairs
from back in the 1980s.
was probably at the 1987 show,” he writes, “but not
the 1984.” We publish these postcards hoping they will not
be mistaken for announcements of coming events. More importantly,
we hope that they will attract to the Newsletter further documentation
of the organization’s history.
prompted us to create a Flickr account, MWABA
Archive, where we hope to post more ephemera and other items
and photos related to the history of the organizaton. If you have
something to share, please send them to us and we will upload
items of interest.
February 14, 2010
Journalist Who Wanted Her Story Too Much A
review by Joel Hyde
of Allison Hoover Bartlett's, The
Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective,
and a World of Literary Obsession. New York:
Riverhead Books/Penguin, 2009. Hardback, 274 pp. $24.95
In this book Allison Hoover Bartlett describes her investigations
into the activities of John Charles Gilkey, who used stolen credit
card numbers and bad checks to purchase rare books through the
used and rare book trade, mainly on the West Coast. Bartlett begins
her research by interviewing Ken Sanders, at the time the ABAA
Security Chair. He was largely responsible for Gilkey’s
apprehension and incarceration. When she tells Sanders that
Gilkey, who is still in prison, also has agreed to an interview,
she expects Sanders “to be excited by the news, eager to
hear the details (this, after all, was his big quarry) but instead
he looked stern, incredulous.”
should ask him where all the books he stole are hidden,”
he said peevishly.
“I’ll bet he has a storage unit somewhere
out in Modesto, where he’s from.” (39)
is less interested in recovering the books than in understanding
why Gilkey stole them. Gilkey seems to have stolen rare books
out of love of them, not for resale. This, Bartlett thinks, is
“the sort of thief whose motivation I might understand.”
(5) For his part, Gilkey turns out to be eager to play the part
of the bibliophile gone astray. When Bartlett meets him, he is
so polite that he reminds her of “the children’s television
host Mr. Rogers.” (44) She begins by asking him how he became
interested in books—she wants to avoid the subject of stealing,
out of fear that he will refuse to talk to her. Gilkey describes
how he grew up in a bookish family; how he fed a longing for wealth
by reading Richie Rich comic books; and how he learned from the
movies that one of the trappings of wealth is a library of rare
books. “In many ways, Gilkey did not appear to be all that
different from other book collectors. The only quality I knew
of that set him apart was his criminal history.” (48)
Bartlett meets with Gilkey repeatedly, and as they get to know
each other, a less congenial Gilkey emerges:
decided to be more frank about my views of his stealing. I told
him that I had spoken with dealers whose books he’d
stolen, and that some said they hadn’t had insurance,
so they suffered the losses themselves.
a business owner I certainly wouldn’t want to lose five
hundred dollars.But if you open up a business, things like that
are going to happen.” Stuff
like that happens. That he made it happen was irrelevant to
Gilkey….he spoke in short, staccato sentences, brimming
with braggadocio, like a gangster in a 1940s movie.(207-8)
out to be indifferent to the harm he does to the booksellers that
he steals from.
he is hostile toward them. Once he is out of prison, he calls
Bartlett and asks if she would like to accompany him to Brick
Row in San Francisco, a rare book store where she knows he was
caught buying a book with a stolen credit card. Bartlett
is worried enough about what she might be getting herself into
that she runs the idea by Sanders, who more or less approves the
visit. Almost as soon as Bartlett and Gilkey are in Brick Row,
the owner, John Crichton, asks Gilkey what his name is. Gilkey
beats around the bush but eventually replies honestly. Then Crichton
asks Bartlett who she is. She says, not entirely honestly, that
she is “a journalist writing a story about book collectors.”
(178) Probably thinking that she doesn’t know her companion’s
history, Crichton suggests a follow-up interview with himself.
In the meantime Gilkey, knowing he has been recognized, begins
walking around the store, always under Crichton’s watchful
eye, complaining loudly about the dishonesty of Crichton’s
profession—the first editions he has been sold that weren’t
first editions, the books that were described as having dust jackets
but arrived without them.
Row, the soft green carpet was lush, the kind of flooring that
generously accepts your footsteps and makes them inaudible.
It encourages quiet talk, but in an even louder voice, Gilkey
went on to describe buying books at book fairs, only to discover
later that he’d been cheated. It was obvious that these
stories were for Crichton’s ears as much as mine, and
it pained me to listen.(181)
pain her enough, though, to tell Gilkey to stop, or to walk out
on him so as not to be a party to his rudeness. “As a reporter,”
she writes, “I was in no position to contradict him.”
(180) Sanders thinks otherwise; when he hears about Bartlett’s
visit to Brick Row, he loses his temper at her:
my having consulted with him before going, which he seemed to
have forgotten, his disgust was plain. He closed his e-mail
with a chiding request: "I don’t want to hear
about your sick games ever again…."Sanders,
the hero of this story, was turning out to be more intractable
than Gilkey, the criminal. I lay awake much of the night,
fearing that all my hard work had been for naught, that I had
lost my story.(190-1)
lost her story, though. Sanders’ memory turns out to be
as forgiving as it is short. More importantly, Sanders the bibliodetective
isn’t at the heart of her story—and neither is Gilkey
the book thief. They may be her hero and villain, but the real
protagonist of her book is Bartlett herself. She thinks that her
book is “ a cautionary tale or those who plan to deal in
rare books,” but that it “may also be a lesson
for those writers who, like me, approach a story with the naïve
belief that they will be able to follow it the way a spectator
passively follows a parade, and that they will be able to leave
it without altering its course.” (6) I think that
her book has much more to say about journalism than it has
to say about the book trade or the criminal mind.
Late in her investigation, Bartlett arranges to interview Gilkey’s
mother and sister in the family home in Modesto. Gilkey seems
to have coached them in advance, and they show Bartlett all the
evidence they can muster that Gilkey is a man of culture. His
mother finds it hard to believe that her son is a thief. “I
mean, it’s innocent. Maybe he was just wandering around
or looking around with the book, and he must have forgot about
it, and then he got caught.” (236) Eventually she leads
Bartlett into Gilkey’s bedroom:
were neatly lined up on the floor and artwork he had collected
hung on the walls….I made a move to leave, but his mother
motioned toward the closet, which she opened.
how he keeps his things? Neat,” she said. “And
look. More books!”
Yes, more books. Stacks and stacks of them….Their spines
faced the back of the closet, as if in hiding. This seemed the
most private, most intimate corner of Gilkey’s room, but
instead of looking inside to see if I recognized any of the
books he had stolen, I turned away…. I was afraid of what
I would find if I drew the books from the pile, what degree
of crime, and what degree of responsibility I might bear in
knowing the books were there. (239-40)
was “the storage unit in Modesto” that Sanders guessed
would be there. Here might be evidence that could lock up Gilkey
for years, that might implicate his family in his crimes; here
might be books that could be returned to their lawful owners—but
Bartlett turns away from them, afraid that if she looks more closely
at them she will get in way over her head.
Of course, she already has. It is easy for a bookseller, especially
one who has been a victim of book thieves, to dislike this book.
It is easy to blame Bartlett for not cooperating more in the apprehension
of a thief, for embarking instead on the fool’s errand of
trying to understand his heart. It is easy to blame her for blurring
the distinction between the desire to possess books and the desire
to steal them, not to mention the distinction between the desire
to possess books and the love of them. It is easy to blame her
for not becoming more intimate with and knowledgeable about the
world of used and rare books.
her sojourn into that world has taught her something about herself:
are joined with others that have traits in common they form
a larger story that can reveal something wholly new about the
history of democracy, or Renaissance cooking, or Hells
Angels who pen novels…. I now see myself as an ardent
collector…of stories. Searching for them, researching
them, and writing them gives my life shape and purpose
the way that hunting, gathering, and cataloging books
does for the collector.
If she can
learn something about herself, from observing the activities of
those who pursue books, then maybe they can learn something about
themselves, from observing her sometimes awkward and sometimes
conscience-stricken attempts to pursue her story. Every profession
affords ethical dilemmas, and being reminded of how difficult
and necessary it is to struggle with those dilemmas is of some
value. It just isn't anywhere near as valuable as it would be
to get back books that were stolen from us.
November 24, 2009
following talk was delivered by William S. Reese before the Grolier
Club in New York City. It is reprinted with the kind permission
of Mr. Reese and the Grolier Club. Texts of all of the talks delivered
at the “Books in Hard Times” symposium are available
at www.grolierclub.org. Click on Public Events, scroll down
to the entry for September 22, and click on "Papers read at
this conference are now available HERE."
possible to be an optimist and a pessimist at the same time?
If so, mark me down in each column. On the bright side, I
think that what has now been dubbed the Great Recession has
had far less effect on the rare book market than on many other
areas of the economy, or of the larger art and antiques market
of which it constitutes a small sliver. News of its demise
is greatly exaggerated, and this year has been a far better
one than many of us might have predicted last October; the
market in rare books is healthy and functioning. On the dark
side, I see larger systemic problems, primarily on the lower
end of the scale of rarity and value, which will shape its
direction and imperil its health in years to come. These generally
have little to do with the immediate state of the economy
and more to do with modern taste and technology. Many of these
issues were already factors in the marketplace in boom times,
but their direction is perhaps more fully revealed in the
current economy. It is important to distinguish between the
immediate problem and longer-term trends, and which parts
of the market are affected by them..
exceptionally wet year many of us have noticed the phenomenon
that it may pour on one side of the hill and barely sprinkle
on the other. The first thing to understand about the current
rare book market is that it is a collection of mini-, micro-,
and micro-mini markets, each with its internal dynamic and
players among dealers, collectors, and institutions. As many
of you know, I am an expert in printed Americana. I’ve
been an active dealer for 35 years, and I think I can say
the leader in that narrow field for half that time. At this
point I have a pretty good idea about my side of the hill,
but I may have a very different experience than Priscilla
or Tom, although we’re in the same profession. This
is a reflection of what’s been going on for decades
in the rare book business; the trend since World War II away
from general open shops in urban centers toward specialists
working by appointment, often remote from large cities. Besides
Americana, I deal in travels and voyages, early natural history,
historical photography, and American cartography. I see in
each of these fields a distinctly different, though frequently
overlapping, constituency. It doesn’t take too many
players, in these niches, to make each market spin; indeed,
it only takes few extra in each little world to overheat it,
a few less to take it off the boil, or the intercession of
a single major player to wreak havoc. Those of you interested
in early printed books will know that a European collector
attacked the incunable market with great resources and enthusiasm
several years ago, only to sell many of the books as rapidly
as he acquired them because of personal financial reverses.
This made for a very bumpy ride that really had nothing to
do with underlying value. Specialization gives dealers a greater
command of their expertise, but it also leaves them with an
undiversified portfolio, so to speak, and diversification
is always a prudent thing. I can say unequivocally that the
corners of the market where I spend my time have remained
quite healthy and strong – at least so far.
dealer Richard Wormser observed decades ago that rare books
were becoming scarce. The one big thing to know about most
areas of the antiquarian book market – with the possible
exception of modern literature – is the scarcity of
material. Good books are hard to find, at least for sale,
because the extraordinary boom in institutional collecting
after World War II moved most of the float in the market from
private to public hands. This trend continues, although at
a reduced rate, as institutional budgets have contracted,
and as some institutions – mainly small and medium-sized
public libraries – decide to get out of the business
of holding antiquarian books entirely. Whether that net flow
reverses itself in an age of digitization and strained resources
is a huge issue for all of us, as vendors, holders, donors,
and scholars. Without touching that tar baby of a question
further, nothing in the short to mid-term is going to change
the scarcity issue. Any time a truly first-rate thing has
come into the market in the last year, the troops have turned
out of their bunkers and it has set a record price. In my
field, the two A+ things to come up for auction this spring
– the Paul Revere engraving of the Landing of British
Troops at Boston, at Northeast Auctions; and the third known
copy of the first Franklin almanac of 1733, at Sotheby’s
– both commanded very strong prices with numerous competing
bidders. There are no problems with best material –
and that’s true throughout the antiques world..
we have not seen much of is forced selling – people
being compelled to liquidate their book collections to raise
cash. There undoubtedly have been a few instances of this,
and my company bought a small collection under what seemed
like such a situation this summer, but in general it hasn’t
happened. I confess I’m surprised by this; I expected
more material to be pushed into the marketplace. Instead,
the opposite has happened: people who have collections are
holding them, and the amount coming on the auction market
has dropped drastically. Why aren’t we glutted like
the real estate market? First, I’ve always believed
that book collectors tended to be less subject to whim than
other areas of antiques. Through repeated market cycles, the
price of rare books in general has risen less rapidly than
art in boom times, but held value better in busts. It’s
less fashionable, but more consistent. Second, books are easier
to hold onto than some other assets, like an expensive second
home – compact to store and without on-going expense.
Third, and mainly, it’s become clear that virtually
anyone who has collections and not been forced to sell for
the classic three “Ds” of debt, divorce, and death,
would prefer to sit it out and wait for better times. This
has hurt the auction houses, who live on volume, much more
than the trade.
sitting it out is what a number of people have done, neither
adding to their collections nor thinking of disposing of them.
They are on the sidelines for now, but they will be back.
Their interest hasn’t gone away, but they would like
to know what this year’s bonus is before getting back
in. At the same time, there are plenty of collectors who don’t
feel so poor, and even some new ones who have come on strong
in the last year. Some people may have more money in cash
earning very little interest than they have ever had in their
investing lives. When the threat of inflation looms, tangible
objects have always looked like a good hedge, even if they
are less fungible. I’m not suggesting that investing
is the primary driver, but clearly books and other rare tangible
objects look like a safer bet to a lot of people than real
estate or the stock market.
is my fourth recession in the rare book business. I started
in the trade in 1975, in the midst of stagflation. The period
1981-82 was difficult for the trade, but I remember it more
as an era of great opportunity, with such auctions as the
Sonneborn sale, and a time when the extraordinary strength
of the dollar made buying in Europe a field day for a few
years. The ’91-’92 recession was the hardest for
my particular business because of the specialist problems
I alluded to earlier; my three best customers were all Manhattan
real estate investors, and they stopped dead in their tracks
at the same time. It taught me to diversify. 2000-2001 was
barely a road bump in the rare book market, although my then
best customer ceased to collect – he still has his great
collection, but has not added to it. By then I was sufficiently
diversified that it didn’t hurt too much, and I suppose
the same is true today. So far we are on track to sell as
much this year as we did in 2007 and 2008, although we may
have worked a little harder to get there. And this time the
exchange rates are helping many American dealers to sell back
to Europe. The one-way ticket of rare books into the United
States that has prevailed for more than a century is over,
to the temporary aid of American dealers- at least until we
have to replace the stock.
is not universal in my field. I have the advantages of seniority,
liquidity, and a deep stock. I know that many of my colleagues
have had a tougher road. But books are being bought and sold,
new collectors have entered the market even in the last year,
and many of the sideliners are getting back into the game.
Recessions come and go, and this too must pass. The problems
I see ahead have less to do with last year’s bust than
longer-term systemic ones, now thrown into stark relief.
are divided into three parts: new, used, and rare. The dividing
line between the first and second is very clear; between the
second and third it is often blurry, and they are the only
two that concern us. Over the last decade the used book business
– the low end of the rare trade – has been utterly
transformed by the Internet, generally to its detriment. Beloved
stores have closed, stocks have been devalued, and livelihoods
of the great used book stores began in the 1960s, with the
closing of the great urban shops such as Leary’s in
Philadelphia or Lowdermilk’s in Washington, and continued
with the crumbling of the Fourth Avenue stores in New York
in the 1970s, and the end of shops such as Kaye’s and
Publix in Cleveland in the 1980s. Despite this, the used book
business remained a decent living in many places, and essentially
the only way to find out-of-print books. It was also an incubator
for collectors, who cut their teeth browsing in such stores
before moving on to rarer delights. Similarly, it bred important
trade specialists who straddled the used/rare line in areas
such as art history. All of these dealers had an incentive
to gather in and sort out material and offer it in their shops.
With the practical advent of the Internet as a bookselling
tool about 1998, everything changed. The barrier to finding
an out-of-print book dropped to a simple search, and the barrier
to entering the used book business dropped to signing on to
one of the websites. Today Advanced Book Exchange, to take
the largest, offers something like 70 or 80 million books
through about 10,000 vendors. I guarantee you the world does
not contain that many skilled rare book dealers.
this has been great for the buyer. Prices quickly dropped
off on regular out-of-print books – to the point where
the profit may lie in overcharging for the postage –
and a book that formerly took search or luck to turn up can
be found immediately. Open stores can seldom compete on this
now leveled playing field with sellers who have virtually
no overhead. As a result, many more used bookstores with a
foot in the rare trade are going – Cody’s and
Moe’s in Berkeley being the most celebrated closings.
This is a huge cultural loss, and true hard times for the
people who made a living at it. I’m no Luddite, and
the fact is if you know what you want in out-of-print books,
you can get it cheaper, better, and quicker than you could
before. If you aren’t sure what you want, but hope to
learn from a bookstore, you’re increasingly out of luck.
Herman Melville says in White-Jacket that the best books are
those we stumble upon rather than seek out, books that “pretend
to little but abound in much.” Despite a fancy education
I learned most of what I know in used book stores, and I’m
sorry to see them go.
one ascends in rarity and such concerns as condition, provenance,
and the like arise, the less the Internet has changed the
business. While online sales are now a significant factor
for all of the trade, few truly rare or expensive books are
being sold blind, ordered out of the blue by previously unknown
buyers. The Internet is a very effective advertising tool,
but once the transaction moves into five figures, almost everyone
wants to have some discussion with the bookseller about the
who, what, and why of the book.
the rarer and more valuable the book, the more the specialized
knowledge of the trade is valued, and the more experience
and memory provide a context for unique material. The rare
book business is healthiest at the top, with great rarities,
and on the esoteric sides, in specialized areas that require
deep knowledge of inherently rare material. In the age of
the Internet one has to have the best, the cheapest, or the
only copy. Specialized knowledge of readily available books
has been largely degraded.
is not good for the long-term health of the trade. Fewer young
people are entering the business, and the difficulties of
building a professional career are, I think, much greater
than they were. A substantial part of new entrants to the
business are second careerists, and while this certainly doesn’t
preclude their becoming skilled dealers, it does leave their
business without the long view of experience the lifers have.
For collectors, the traditional path of working up from used
to rare material will increasingly be done on-line. The market
will certainly learn new tricks, but the old style of used
book store will soon be found only in the smaller university
towns, with low rents and a high percentage of readers. The
survivals in big cities will depend on owning the real estate.
Perhaps the biggest question facing all concerned is what
kind of market the rare book business caters to. Are we in
the information market or the antiques market? Are we selling
access to data or charming artifacts? And to whom will we
beginning of my career there was no question that we were
selling both at once. Yes, there were large microfilm and
reprint projects, but these seldom came close to the heart
of the rare book business; they tended to focus on newspapers,
scholarly journals, and similarly bulky items. Institutions
were still the largest consumers in the market, and some dealers
geared their businesses entirely to their needs. The surrogate
information platforms simplified storage and spread data,
but they were no easier for the scholarly user. Indeed, we
now look back on some of these projects and are appalled at
the sloppy manner in which they were done.
only in the last five years that the digitizing of data on
a massive scale has become possible, and it now proceeds at
a rapid rate. Google’s projects, combined with other
public and private ventures and keyword searching, have utterly
revolutionized research. How many people in this room recall
spending hours searching for one clue that can now be found
in fifteen seconds? The information value of rare books is
melting like the polar icecaps. The subscription costs of
many of these projects are hugely expensive, and will take
up ever greater segments of institutional budgets. In general,
it will mean less and less institutional money spent on used
and rare books. It may not affect the behavior of institutions
committed to being holders of record, such as those on our
library panel today, but it will greatly affect many smaller
this will continue a trend underway since the early 1970s,
now recognizable as the apogee of institutional buying in
the rare book market. A greater percentage of the dollars
spent buying rare books will come from private collectors
buying objects and less from institutions buying information.
There is nothing wrong with this, but it will change patterns
of what is being collected and what is salable. In general,
the great post-war institutional boom greatly expanded the
range of material considered collectable. As the pendulum
swings back, some areas of rare books will have smaller constituencies.
areas of the current market will be little affected by these
trends. Color plate books, livre d’artiste, atlases,
and other major illustrated books have always been collected
mainly as objects, and primarily sold to private collectors.
These are all areas where the artifactual appeal trumps the
informational. Once again, the rarest and best material and
the esoteric edges will fare the best. But what about the
“standard” out-of-print book which retails in
the two or three figures, with twenty copies listed online,
the text of which can be found on Google? It will become much
harder to sell.
all of these musings I am optimistic and pessimistic at the
same time. I am confident that this recession will pass as
others have, and that the marketplace in rare books will recover
along with other antiques markets. Indeed, I think the rare
book market has fared better than most things in the last
year. That seems to me a short-term concern. Far more worrisome
are the loss of used bookstores which were incubators of collectors
and centers of culture in their own right; the transformational
effect of the digital age on buying patterns; and budgetary
crises in institutional libraries which will reduce their
role in the market. As we look at the market today, let us
distinguish what is short-term malaise and what is a long-term
I am sure of: people will continue to be drawn to the beauty
and romance of rare books, and that as long as there are collectors,
there will be a market. I hope myself and my colleagues in
the trade can do our part to keep it vibrant
April 4, 2009
Memoriam. Josephine "Fina" Baker Bray
by Thomas J. Joyce
following obituary is reprinted from The Caxtonian, with
their kind permission.)
Bray died peacefully at home in February. She was born in Pasadena,
California in 1927. She was reborn as a Caxtonian in 1995.
early 1980s I placed a help-wanted ad in the Kane County Chronicle
newspaper for my Geneva, Illinois old & rare bookshop. The
advertisement beckoned with the triple promises of low wages,
flexible hours, and an interesting place to work. That was when
Fina Bray walked into my life and made it better.
had never worked retail before, but she was willing to try it.
She came by her interest in books honestly, almost genetically.
At the time, her nephew, Anthony Bliss, was the first Special
Collections Librarian at Northern Illinois University. Tony's
mother--Fina's sister, Amelia--had married Cary Bliss, who was
then the Director of the Huntington Library in Pasadena. Cary's
father had been Henry Huntington's original librarian. Today
Cary's son is one of the rare book chiefs at UCLA.
had worked at the Huntington, but she never sought a library
degree. Fina's husband, Bill, had been a naval commander in
WWII, and afterwards worked as a scientist for Sandia Corp.,
in New Mexico. While he was stationed in Washington, D. C.,
Fina had found work at The Folger Shakespeare Library. Her favorite
anecdote from her time at the Folger concerned Mr. Charlton
Hinman. Prof. Hinman later achieved global renown for his landmark
researches into the textual history of Shakespeare's First Folio.
his research, which involved a page-by-page, word-by-word scrutiny
of every First Folio he could put his hands upon, he had to
invent the Hinman Collator device. His work was VERY IMPORTANT.
He was not to be trifled with. On one night in particular, at
the Folger closing time was imminent, and Fina was tasked with
getting everyone out of the library. Hinman refused to go, and
even tried to 'pull rank' on Fina, claiming that he out-ranked
her husband, and he ordered her to leave him alone. Fina was
not intimidated, nor was she impressed with naval officers in
her library: she arranged for the guards to guide Mr. Hinman
to the exit forthwith. Mr. Hinman never again tried to pull
rank on her.
of 1983, I moved my business to the South Loop. Josephine could
not move with me, although she did continue to assist me for
projects such as the Printers Row Book Fair and the International
Antiquarian Book Fair at the Palmer House. While at Joyce and
Company Fina had been handling the book search operations. She
decided she could continue that activity on her own, and she
founded "J. Bray Book Search.” This was in the tradition
of Chicago book search firms most excellently represented by
Reinhold Pabel as early as 1948, when he established The Chicago
Book Mart as a search firm. [Note: Pabel was a German P.O.W.
incarcerated outside Peoria during WWII. His memoir, Enemies
Are Human (1955), describes his adventures as an escapee, finally
working at Kroch's & Brentano's.]
is what I felt months later when I first learned that my long-time
friend and fellow Caxtonian, Charley Shields, had owned and
operated The Chicago Book Mart for almost two decades. And it
was for sale. I urged Fina to buy it from Charley to acquire
the credibility and brand name that it would bring with it,
to make her a serious player in the trade. Fina and Bill bought
it as a retirement project for the two of them. In addition
to the Book Mart's legendary yellow mailers, they later bought
a desktop computer to both speed up and simplify the tasks of
creating and mailing their monthly list of Books Wanted. Fina
worked hard to learn the exasperating intricacies of the computer.
Bill, a communications scientist, tried to help, but his Parkinson's
disease did not allow his body to perform what his fine brain
wanted it to do. Their son, David, did what he could to help,
but ultimately they were swept aside by the technologies that
all but eliminated printed lists for digital book searches.
There were fewer and fewer bookshop owners who would read the
lists and respond. Gradually the Chicago Book Mart was shelved.
Terry Tanner and I first heard the name of author Frank Waters
at a publication party for The Swallow Press, at Van Allen Bradley's
Heritage Bookshop, then on Michigan Avenue. Terry went on to
befriend Frank Waters, and eventually wrote the bibliography
of Waters (which was published by David Meyers in 1983). But
Fina had read and begun collecting Frank Waters works back in
the 1950s, when they were living in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
She had quite a nice collection of this Native American author
who should be known by anyone with an interest in the American
joining The Caxton Club in 1995, Fina was an active member of
the west suburban bibliophilic group, The D.O.F.O.B.S. (The
Damned Old Fools Over Books). In addition to myself, other proud
Dofobs included Susan Hanes, Frank Piehl, the Cotners, JoAnne
Baumgartner, Jean Larkin, Colleen Dionne, and Charles Miner.
It was not unusual to find them carpooling into Chicago, picking
up members from as far west as Sycamore, trying to beat the
rush hour traffic. Dofobs are known for their love of books,
food, adult beverages, and the company of each other, and Fina
combined them all when she frequently hosted Dofob meetings
in her home.
characteristics of Fina were intimately tied to her family surname
of Baker. They were descendants from Edward Baker of Springfield,
Illinois, a close friend to Abraham Lincoln. Born Josephine
Baker, Fina took a mischievous pleasure in sharing a name with
the between-the-wars sultry superstar entertainer in Paris,
who was known as "Bronze Venus" or, simply, "La
Baker.” Also, through the Edward Bakers, Fina was related
to Mary Todd Lincoln. Fina had a shelf of books about the Bakers
and Mary Todd, and some family relics. She particularly enjoyed
the connection of living in Batavia, the site of Bellevue Place,
the sanatorium to which Robert Todd Lincoln entrusted his mother
she loved her cigarettes. Typically Fina only smoked 2 or 3
cigs each day, but she anticipated each and every one. I suspect
that she always thought it was not properly lady-like to smoke,
but it seemed to help the first martini of the evening to go
she had Bichon Frise dogs, and she loved every one--altho I
could not tell them apart.
see a Bichon Frise without thinking of Fina, and I am sure that
I never will.
Proposed Regulations on Appraisals of Charitable Contributions
– The Rules Continue to Evolve
Bruce H. Barnett, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation)
The Book Block
Lake Forest, Illinois
booksellers frequently are asked to value books. The requests
generally are for a single book or a small group, and in those
cases, no more than a verbal estimate of value is expected.
From time to time, however, booksellers are asked to appraise
a collection, and oftentimes a written estimate is requested.
In those cases, booksellers must clearly understand the purpose
of the appraisal, and if it is to support a value for a charitable
contribution, knowledge of the relevant IRS requirements is
essential. With increasing rapidity, those requirements have
changed over the years. Below are a brief explanation of those
changes and a description of where matters stand today.
an appraisal is required whenever a tax deduction is claimed
on a federal income tax return for a contribution to charity
of property worth greater than $5,000. Since tax deductions
reduce the amount of tax collected by the federal government,
Congress has tightened the rules governing appraisals in recent
years in quest of discouraging valuation abuse, i.e., overstating
the value of the contributed property.
avoid formal appraisals owing to the combination of the enormous
time that must be expended to perform a proper appraisal and
the difficulty of charging a fee large enough to adequately
compensate the appraiser for the effort. Such aversion is particularly
acute when the appraisal is required for tax purposes, since
the prospect of a potential review by the IRS is intimidating.
The most recent IRS pronouncements have upped the ante again,
and unless the IRS changes its position, many booksellers very
likely will be disqualified from conducting appraisals for income
tax purposes, unless corrective action, described more fully
below, is undertaken.
the history of the US tax law, few rules applied to the valuation
of property contributed to charity. As just one example, in
those early days, no particular support for the value of contributed
property was required, and only in the relatively infrequent
case of IRS audit would that value be disputed. Later, appraisals
were required for sizable contributions, and later still, standards
were developed for those appraisals. The growth of regulation
stemmed from a perceived pattern of tax abuse in the form of
taxpayers claiming exorbitant values for donated property. As
just one well publicized recent example, some unscrupulous taxpayers
vastly overstated the value of used cars donated to certain
Tax Law Changes
Jobs Creation Act of 2004 introduced new standards for an appraisal
used to support an income tax deduction for a charitable contribution.
Among the new conditions was a requirement that the appraiser
must either regularly perform appraisals or hold herself out
to the general public as an appraiser. This requirement narrowed
the population able to perform an appraisal but still enabled
virtually anyone to be an acceptable appraiser, e.g., by simply
representing appraisal capabilities on a website. Another new
condition added by the 2004 law was a requirement that the appraiser
include her credentials in the appraisal. Despite the 2004 changes,
valuation abuse concerns remained, and additional requirements
were added just two years later.
Tax Law Changes
restrictions were added by the Pension Protection Act of 2006
including the first ever penalties imposed solely upon appraisers
for substantially misstating the value of appraised property.
These new provisions impose a penalty of up to 125 percent of
the compensation received for appraisal services. For example,
an appraiser who is paid $10,000 for providing an appraisal
could face a penalty as high as $12,500. This penalty is worrisome,
particularly since the appraiser may have no opportunity to
dispute it. Tax audits often give rise to a number of potential
changes proposed by an IRS agent. The taxpayer faced with a
variety of changes often will settle with the IRS by conceding
some issues in exchange for others being dropped. Should one
of the conceded issues be the value of a charitable contribution
supported by an appraisal, the appraiser may face a penalty
without an opportunity to defend the valuation, since the audited
taxpayer may not even notify the appraiser of the dispute. Compounding
the problem is the possibility that the appraiser may be barred
from future IRS work without ever having a chance to defend
Act also increased penalties imposed upon taxpayers for valuation
misstatements. In some cases, the penalty may be as much as
40 percent of the additional tax due as a result of a valuation
misstatement that is identified via IRS audit. To illustrate,
if the value of a contribution of a book collection to charity
is determined to be $500,000 after an IRS audit rather than
the $2,000,000 claimed on the original income tax return, the
taxpayer would face a penalty of roughly $210,000 ($1,500,000
x 35% tax rate x 40%).
to these new and increased penalty provisions, the 2006 Act
introduced a host of standards applicable both to the appraisal
and the appraiser. One unprecedented new provision mandates
the appraiser’s use of “generally accepted appraisal
standards (GAAS).” While GAAS is not defined, the IRS
points to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice
that were developed by the Appraisal Standards Board of the
to the 2006 Act, only appraisals by “qualified appraisers”
are acceptable to support the value of property deducted as
a charitable contribution on an income tax return. The 2006
Act introduced new criteria for determining who can be a qualified
appraiser. These new qualified appraiser requirements are found
at two levels that could be described as the “general
threshold” and the “specific threshold.”
threshold is designed to ensure that the appraiser possesses
basic capabilities to perform appraisals. One new requirement
is that the appraiser must (1) be designated as a qualified
appraiser by a recognized appraiser organization or (2) meet
minimum education and experience requirements. Another is that
the appraiser must regularly conduct appraisals for pay. Additionally,
the 2006 Act provides that an individual must satisfy other
requirements that will be described in future IRS regulations.
the general threshold requirements are met, the appraiser still
must satisfy the specific threshold tests designed to ensure
competence in valuing the type of property included in the appraisal.
One specific threshold test is that the appraiser must be able
to demonstrate verifiable education and experience in valuing
the type of property that is the subject of the appraisal. Another
is that the appraiser must not have been barred from practicing
before the IRS for the preceding three years.
the new threshold requirements will challenge even experienced
booksellers. For example, few can satisfy the general threshold
requirement of having been designated by a recognized appraisal
organization. On the other hand, it would seem that the alternative
education and experience test is more easily satisfied.
seemingly troublesome general threshold requirement is that
the appraiser must regularly conduct appraisals for pay. Recall
that the 2004 Act allowed qualified appraisers either to regularly
perform appraisals or to hold themselves out to the public as
appraisers. By dropping this latter standard, the 2006 Act eliminates
an easy method for appraisers to qualify.
Act seems to create extraordinary obstacles for new booksellers
to become qualified appraisers. Donors requiring a qualified
appraisal cannot employ a new bookseller, since she will not
be qualified by virtue of not having previous appraisal experience,
and yet without the ability to perform appraisals, she would
be unable to become qualified for failure to regularly conduct
appraisals for pay.
antiquarian booksellers have been barred from practicing before
the IRS, the only specific threshold test of concern is demonstrating
verifiable education and experience in valuing the type of property
that is the subject of the appraisal.
guidance before the publication of regulations explaining the
2006 changes in greater detail, the IRS issued Notice 2006-96
in November of 2006. This Notice generally was helpful in resolving
a number of concerns in favor of the appraiser. For example,
an appraisal is deemed to be qualified and therefore acceptable
to the IRS provided the appraisal (1) conforms to GAAS, (2)
complies with existing requirements, and (3) is conducted by
a qualified appraiser.
treated is the specific threshold test of relevant education
and experience. Notice 2006-96 provides that this test is satisfied
via the appraiser’s claim to be qualified, which is supported
by inclusion in the appraisal of a description of the appraiser’s
background, education, experience, and membership in professional
are the general threshold education and experience requirements.
The experience test is satisfied simply by having at least two
years of experience in buying, selling or valuing property,
and therefore should be of little concern to booksellers. But,
a qualified appraiser must have successfully completed relevant
college or professional level coursework. The boundaries of
this test are not defined.
Notice 2006-96 provided no guidance in helping appraisers determine
the standards for the general threshold test of regularly appraising
of 2008, the IRS issued Proposed Regulations that sweep away
much of the uncertainty left by Notice 2006-96. In some cases,
however, the decisions reflected are not helpful to booksellers.
The Proposed Regulations are not binding, and, therefore, the
rules found in them are not effective. Final Regulations will
be published in the future and will be effective upon issuance.
Those Final Regulations will reflect IRS consideration of comments
submitted by interested parties, as well as testimony received
at a public hearing in late January. Although neither binding
nor final, the Proposed Regulations offer insight into IRS thinking
on some of the troublesome remaining issues.
provided by the Proposed Regulations is that to be acceptable
for US income tax purposes, an appraisal must comply with the
“substance and principles” of USPAP. This broad
interpretation is helpful to booksellers seeking qualified appraiser
important decision found in the Proposed Regulation is the merging
of the general and specific experience and education thresholds
into a single test. Thus, an appraiser must satisfy only the
requirement of verifiable education and experience in valuing
the type of property subject to the appraisal. The experience
requirement continues to be two years in valuing the property
subject to the appraisal, and few booksellers should face problems
meeting this requirement.
however, for booksellers is the education requirement. The Proposed
Regulations continue allowing the requirement to be satisfied
by receipt of a designation from a recognized professional appraisal
organization. As previously mentioned, this path to qualified
appraiser status will be of very limited value to booksellers.
absence of a designation from a recognized professional appraiser
organization, the education requirement is satisfied by having
successfully completed professional or college-level coursework
in valuing the category of property that is customary in the
appraisal field for an appraiser to value. The definition of
“successfully completed” is uncertain. The Proposed
Regulations state that receiving a passing grade on a final
examination constitutes successful completion, but no other
way of satisfying this standard is mentioned. Thus, for example,
does mere attendance at a professional level program fulfill
parameters of successful completion are not described, the Proposed
Regulations are clear in defining the nature of the institution
that must be attended. Thus, a generally recognized appraisal
organization that regularly offers educational programs in the
principles of valuation is satisfactory. Also satisfactory are
professional or college-level educational organizations whose
primary function is the presentation of formal instruction,
provided they normally maintain a regular faculty and curriculum,
and a regularly enrolled body of students where the educational
activities are conducted. Most universities clearly satisfy
these requirements. Some, however, are less certain. Consider,
for example, an institution that normally delivers instruction
on-line such as the University of Phoenix.
for appraisals prepared to support charitable contributions
have tightened over the years. Important revisions in 2004 added
significant rigor, and 2006 changes were even more comprehensive.
Those provisions increased penalties for valuation misstatements,
and effectively reduced the universe of qualified appraisers.
To be confident of their ability to prepare appraisals acceptable
to the IRS for income tax purposes, prudent booksellers must
understand the new appraisal standards, and it is in their best
interest to consider their increased exposure to penalties.
issued Proposed Regulations clear up some lingering uncertainty,
but important issues remain unanswered. While the Proposed Regulations
have no binding effect, they suggest approaches that the IRS
is likely to follow when binding Final Regulations are published
sometime in the future.
the Final Regulations remain unchanged from the Proposed Regulations,
most booksellers will discover that they are not qualified appraisers,
and therefore they are unable to provide appraisals useful for
federal income tax purposes. The most glaring deficiency for
most booksellers is the lack of formal education in valuation,
which can be cured by attendance at a local university that
offers classes containing a final examination. Other methods
of acquiring education are available, but there is no guarantee
that they will be adequate to satisfy IRS standards. Moreover,
there is no certainty that the Final Regulations will mirror
the Proposed Regulations, and for that reason, booksellers should
carefully consider the merits of waiting to take corrective
educational action until Final Regulations are issued.
for income tax purposes raise many complicated and weighty issues,
only some of which have been touched upon above. Since the area
is evolving, a bookseller should not rely upon any material
contained herein but should consult her tax advisor whenever
considering undertaking an appraisal that will be used for income
of the Midwest Antiquarian Booksellers Association are welcome
to submit articles for the online newsletter.
Ordinarily submissions to the MWABA Newsletter are expected
to be original material. Sometimes we will publish material
borrowed from other sources, if it is identified as such and
if we can obtain the proper permissions. Direct quotations
and paraphrases from other sources must be attributed.
Submissions can be of any length, from brief announcements
and other notes to full-length articles and reviews. Original
photos, photo essays, cartoons, comic strips, and other original
artwork are welcome, but should be submitted in web-ready
format, for example, as jpg or gif images. Submissions should
be related to the antiquarian book trade and/or the work of
Items accepted for publication will be published as close
as possible to the date when they are received. Time-sensitive
material should be submitted early enough to allow for possible
corrections. We would prefer that submissions be e-mailed,
but we will accept typed manuscripts if necessary.
At the end of each year, we will print a hard copy of the
MWABA Newsletter for distribution to the membership. It will
consist of items from the past year’s on-line newsletter
that are of continuing interest and that have been submitted
before October 1.
Submissions should be e-mailed to Joel
c/o Joel Hyde
Every Other Book
3208 Crescent Avenue
Fort Wayne, IN 4680
November 24 , 2009
April 4 , 2009
5 , 2009
March 4, 2008
Minutes, Treasurer's Reports and various other updates here.