Gonzalo Fernandez Pontes became the president of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), an international body with 1800 affiliates, in 2016. He undertakes his duties alongside running his shop, Pontes Maps, which opened in Madrid in 1991.
1. How did you get your start?
I started as a book and map collector more than 25 years ago in material related to Middle East and archaeology.
2. How has the trade changed since you’ve been dealing?
From printed catalogues to the possibility of uploading all your inventory and selling worldwide through websites. What else I can say?
The internet has brought about an unparalleled change in our lives. These days, websites are our calling cards and enable us to maintain permanent contact with customers and colleagues. Facebook and LinkedIn are gaining importance for booksellers by helping them get visibility.
3. What is the importance of ILAB and what are your duties as president?
Soundness in our trade means buying and selling with confidence. Being an ILAB member means to be part of the most important organisation of antiquarian booksellers worldwide, with a history of 70 years.
The president is part of the committee and oversees the running of the organisation, coordinating the 22 national association members of the league.
4. What book do you have on your bedside table right now?
Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese by Patrick Leigh Fermor, where I’m travelling now. It is one of the few unspoiled places in Europe.
5. Real ale or espresso martini?
I am curious about the wines of each place I visit. Wine production implies passion and is a key part of the culture and traditions of the Mediterranean countries.
>> This interview was first published in the weekly column "Dealer's Diary" in the UK Antiques Trade Gazette on 14 August 2017. It is reposted here with permission of the author and publisher.