Next year will be the fourteenth time it has been given and contestants from all around the world are stepping forward.
Booksellers' memoirs - and memoirs of booksellers - and conversations with booksellers - all qualify and often make the most lively reading. Anton Gerits of Amsterdam, a past president of the League, and Lev Abramovich Glazer, who traded in rare books in Moscow for sixty years, offer their reminiscences. Sheila Markham's collection of interviews with members (mostly) of the British trade arrives from the author, and Robert Maumet's account of Paul Ruat, libraire 1862-1938, arrives from Marseilles.
Accounts of individual presses, commercial, academic and 'private', entered for the Prize include: Paul Cassirer Verlag, Berlin 1898-1933 (by R.Feilchenfeldt and M.Brandis), Johann Friedrich Cotta Verlag 1787-1832 (by B.Fischer), Edinburgh University Press (by Peter Bell), Leipziger Bibliophilen (by H.Kaestner), the Giunta (Junta) Printing Family in Spain 1526-1628 (by W.Pettas), Charles Ricketts's Vale Press (by M.Watry), and Die Cranach Presse des Grafen Harry Kessler (edited by J.D.Brinks).
The literature of travel is charted by Michael Rosove in Antarctica 1772-1922, in Leonora Navari's Greek Civilization through the Eyes of Travellers and Scholars, in the much enlarged edition of Bruce Peel's Bibliography of the Canadian Prairies, and (from Oslo) in Anka Ryall's Odysseve i Skjort. There are also two major two-volume cartobibliographies in Rodney Shirley's Maps in the Atlases of the British Library c.850-1800 and Peter van der Krogt's third volume of Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici (this volume dealing with Low Countries atlases up to 1650 including Ortelius, etc.)
Bookbinding is represented by Stuart Bennett's Trade Binding in the British Isles 1660-1800 and art deco cover design by J.Holstein's Georg Salter, Berlin 1922-1934. While studies of book illustrators include Brian Alderson's Edward Ardizzone and Martin Steenson's Harry Clarke. There is a good showing of author bibliographies including George Eliot (by W.Baker and J.C.Ross), Kay Boyle (by M.C.Chambers), John Masefield, the 'Great Auk' (by P.W.Errington), W.Somerset Maugham (by L.Rothschild and D.Whiteman), and Anthony Trollope - in America (by W.E.Smith).
Subject bibliographies include the three-volume Seventeenth Century Numismatic Books (by C.E.Dekesel), The Book of Common Prayer 1549-1999 (by D.N.Griffiths), Quaternary Vertebrates of North America (edited by C.R.Harington), Internationale Bibliographie der Papiergeschichte (edited by F.Schmidt and E.Sobek in 4 vols), Oesterreichische Exlibris Bibliographie 1881-2003 (by K.Stock), and the monumental Elizabethan Poetry 1559-1603 (by S.W.May and W.A.Ringler Jr.).
In the history of the book department there is the fifth volume of the Cambridge University Press's own History of the Book in Britain covering the period 1557-1695 and edited by John Barnard and the late Don McKenzie; Andrew Murphy's Shakespeare in Print from the first quartos to 20th century editions; and Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order 1450-1830 by David McKitterick the distinguished Trinity Cambridge librarian, based on his Lyell Lectures delivered at Oxford. From Australia we have Patrick Spedding's Eliza Haywood [1693-1756]; Ian Morrison's Australian Almanacs; and B.Hubber and V.Smith's Patrick White, a Bibliography.
The widely praised Catalogue of the RIBA British Architectural Library Early Printed Books 1478-1840, compiled by N.Savage, P.W.Nash, et al. and just completed with the appearance of Vol V stands out for sheer size, weighing in at 3,500 pages. And representing the technological revolution of our times is Diana Hook and Jeremy Norman's Origins of Cyberspace (Computing, Networking, Telecommunications).
Three strong contenders have arrived from France and French-speaking Switzerland: Bibles imprimees du Xve au XVIIIe siecle conservees a Paris by M.Delaveau and D.Hillard; Les Plans de Paris des origines (1493) au XVIIIe siecle by J.Boutier; and the distinguished 3-volume Bibliotheca Calviniana by R.Peter and J.-F.Gilmont. All three have already earned distinction by winning the SLAM Prix de la Bibliographie. Last to arrive is the long awaited opus of the Freemans, Arthur and Janet Ing, Bio-Bibliography of John Payne Collier, Scholarship and Forgery in the Nineteenth Century, seventeen years in the making and alleged by one reviewer to run to 650,000 words.
It will be for the international panel of jurors, scholars, librarians and booksellers, to first nominate a short list and then to decide on the winner of the $10,000 Prize. The criteria are originality and bibliographical significance. They will convene during 2005 and their decision announced in 2006.
Raymond Kilgarriff, Prize Secretary