By Susan Benne
"...And my profound thanks to the ABAA as an organization. Since I joined four years ago, my business has been transformed."
That's how one member summed up his experiences in the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA). We are a trade association of over 450 members located throughout the United States. Our members specialize in fine and rare books, maps, documents, autographs, illuminated manuscripts, ephemera and prints which span the economic spectrum. We are united in a passion for books and related material and have bound ourselves to a Code of Ethics which guides us in our dealings with each other and our clients.
Each year the ABAA sponsors three rare and antiquarian book fairs. San Francisco and Los Angeles in February (alternating years), New York in April and Boston in the Fall. These are often fully subscribed by bookdealers and are among the best attended and most prestigious fairs in the country. Many thousands of collectors, librarians and scholars enthusiastically anticipate and attend each year.
Members have access to a wide array of Internet based ABAA-sponsored programs. They can list their books for sale on our website and in the metasearch of our umbrella organization, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). The various email listserves function as a community of experts where members assist one another with any number of issues including business practices, client references, specific bibliographic points, security matters, the list goes on and on. It means that you are connected to a group of knowledgeable and helpful friends wherever you are, whatever the topic may be. This is a unique and valuable pooling of talent whose benefits to our profession and individual businesses are seen on line every day.
On a quarterly basis the ABAA publishes a Newsletter with trade-related stories, book reviews and other interesting tidbits. Yearly we publish a directory of members which is made available to and often consulted by clients, libraries and colleagues. In addition, our website, www.abaa.org, has a continually updated directory of members and their specialties. This website is consulted by more than 1,700 visitors per day.
The instant recognition and credibility provided by ABAA membership is another important feature. Serious rare book collectors often seek out dealers with the ABAA logo. It smooths the way in transactions and facilitates the reciprocal discount which is so helpful in this competitive marketplace. ABAA membership eases the concern of dealers in distant parts of the country who may want to make a referral of a client in your area.
As separately funded voluntary charitable entities, the ABAA has created the Booksellers' Benevolent Fund which assists any bookman, ABAA member or not, who finds himself in economic difficulties. The Woodburn Fund seeks to support book-related educational activities with grants or scholarships for those starting out in our profession and individuals continuing their education in the trade.
These have been rapidly changing times particularly with the rise of the Internet and the decrease in open book shops. The ABAA is looking to make a difference in the lives and businesses of booksellers and the book community. We have been working for over 50 years and are in it for the long haul. Join us for now and for the future.
If you would like a membership application or have any questions, please contact the Executive Director or Chairperson of the Membership Committee; they will be happy to help.
The article is published on the website of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), and is presented here by permission of Susan Benne and the ABAA. Thank you very much.