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All aboard for the PBFA’s Travel & Exploration Book Fair this Sunday

This Sunday sees one of the landmark events in the PBFA calendar – the Travel and Exploration Book Fair at the Royal Geographical Society in the heart of London.

This book fair is all about epic journeys, historic travel and exploration, collectable atlases and maps, and voyages to the furthest corners of the world.  It runs from 11am until 5pm and entrance costs just £2 (although RGS Fellows can enter for free). The Royal Geographical Society is located at 1 Kensington Gore, SW7 2AR (nearest Tube is South Kensington).

The PFBA site has more details.  And what sort of books can you expect to see?

Voyage in search of La Pérouse

Steve Liddle from Bristol will be displaying Voyage in search of La Pérouse by Jacques de Labillardiere – one of a very few 18th century accounts of visits to the western parts of Australia. As well as mainland Australia, Labillardière visited Tasmania, the North Island of New Zealand, and the East Indies.  The price is £950.

White Eagle Books from West London will be displaying Letters From The Gold Coast by Princess Marie Louise, one of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren. This is a book published in 1926 by Methuen. It comes with a rare dust jacket and costs just £65.

The folks from White Eagle will also bring along The Titanic and the Californian by Peter Padfield (see below) – a long forgotten non-fiction book from 1965 that examines the dubious role of a ship called the Californian in the rescue of the Titanic survivors. It costs just £35.

Voyager Press Rare Books, who are making the journey from Vancouver, Canada, will be displaying the first flag of the Republic of China, dating from the Wuchang Uprising of 1911. This never-flown flag will cost £2,500.

By the way, the Geographical Society of London building is an amazing place to visit even if there isn’t a book fair.

The Titanic and the Californian


York Antiquarian Book Seminar Prize Draw

The York Antiquarian Book Seminar returns in September

Are you thinking of becoming a rare bookseller? Or have you just started to sell collectable books? The second York Antiquarian Book Seminar is an educational event held over three days in York in September, 2015 for booksellers, librarians and collectors that offers expert discussion about rare books.

This is your opportunity to enter for a chance to win admission to attend this year’s event. There will be two lucky winners. Each prize package is worth £425. Accommodation, transportation to and from the event, and meals are not included.

The Book Seminar provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market, both antiquarian and modern. Basic procedures and problems are discussed both formally and informally through a series of lectures, discussions, demonstrations and practical hands-on workshops with emphasis on the Internet, computers and Internet bookselling, as well as traditional methods.

Here’s a glance at the Seminar’s busy schedule.

This year’s keynote speaker is Sally Burdon, whohas been working full time in the rare book trade since 1982. She runs the Asia Bookroom, an open bookshop with a very strong mail order department, in Canberra, Australia.

This year’s specialty dealer is Janette Ray who specialises in the sale and purchase of rare and out of print books on architecture and

Learn more on how to enter


ILAB’s Pop-up Rare Book Fairs set for World Book & Copyright Day on April 23

April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day when literature and literacy is celebrated around the globe. This year, this special day will have a strong rare book flavour thanks to more than a dozen pop-up book fairs organised by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB).

Locations are still being added to the list but so far you will be able to visit pop-up book fairs in London, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Sydney, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Moscow, Tokyo, Milan, Zurich, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and The Hague.

Support ILAB’s pop-up book fairs on April 23

There are also book fairs set to appear in smaller towns and cities such as Lund in Sweden, the Western Australian communities of Hamilton and Dunkeld, Haarlem and Groningen in the Netherlands, Lucca in Tuscany, and Konigstein in Germany.

What is most appealing about this initiative is that rare books are being brought to the people and displayed in places that are often quite different to traditional antiquarian bookshops.

For instance, the Dunkeld event is being held in an historic woolshed – a most appropriate venue considering sheep outnumber humans in this part of the world. In Groningen, an entire street – Folkingestraat – is being turned into a book fair for the day. This famous street includes about 50 shops and a beautiful synagogue.

The booksellers at each venue will be collecting financial donations on behalf to UNESCO’s South Sudan Literacy Project. A donation of $3 sends one book to a child in South Sudan, $15 US purchase a set of 12 school books for a classroom, and $500 provides 45 school book collections for a rural community.

On April 23, AbeBooks will join ILAB is promoting pictures, video and news from these events on our blogs and social media.

The list of venues goes on and on….

In Sydney, Australia, you will be able to see a Shakespeare First Folio at the pop-up fair at the State Library of New South Wales.

In Portland, Oregon, ILAB dealers Elisabeth Burdon, Nat Des Marais, Philip Pirages, and Charles Seluzicki will be offering books in a pub called Lucky Lab on Hawthorne Boulevard. Books and beer sounds like the ideal combination.

While in Munich, you can read and gamble at Kaufmanns Casino, which will host around15 antiquarian booksellers from Bavaria. In Konigstein, the auction house Reiss & Sohn is hosting a fair.

In Tokyo, a pop-up fair occurs at the World Antiquarian Book Plaza where 22 antiquarian booksellers from 11 countries share a common space.

In Russia, there will be free book appraisals from sellers at the Moscow State University of the Printing Arts.

In Zurich, there will be a pop-up fair at August Laube Rare Books on the bank of the River Limmat. In Italy, Lucca’s fair can be found in Corte del Biancone and in Milan at Biblioteca Chiesa Rossa. In Vienna, ILAB President Norbert Donhofer will host a fair on the roof terrace of his new shop on Taborstrasse 64/Top 18.

In Budapest, Hungarian booksellers will hold a pop-up fair at the Institute Cervantes. In Holland, you can see antiquarian booksellers and their books in Haarlem central station – catch your train, pick up a book.

In Antwerp’s harbor, you can browse books at Bibliotheek Permeke from Belgian booksellers. In London’s Middle Temple Library, there will be a pop-up fair close to Fleet Street, The Strand and Embankment.

Chicago’s fair can be found in the Cliff Dwellers Club which overlooks Lake Michigan. Lund’s book fair in Sweden is dedicated entirely to pop-up books.

Visit the ILAB site for details as more venues are still being added.

This page details the four methods in which you can make a donation to UNESCO’s literary project in South Sudan.


3rd Milan International Antiquarian Book Fair

For the third time, antiquarian book enthusiasts from booksellers to avid experts to curious would-be collectors all came together under one roof at the Palazzo Mezzanotte in Milan, for the Milan International Antiquarian Book Fair. The fair took place Friday – Sunday, 27-29 March 2015. The event was put on by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of Italy (ABAI) and supported by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). An extremely varied, high-class and well-attended event, the fair showcased all manner of antique paper treasure, from incunabula, maps, illuminated manuscripts, priceless unique documents and much more. Members of our AbeBooks European team attended and thoroughly enjoyed. Here are some images from the event.

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Leipziger Antiquariatsmesse in 2015

The Leipzig Antiquarian Book Fair is an international exhibit and trade fair showcasing books, maps, autographs, and other book-related and ephemeral treasure. This year’s event took place from Thursday, 12th March to Sunday, 15th March, and some AbeBooks staff was lucky enough to attend. Here are some photos from the fair:

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair

Leipzig Book and Antiquarian Fair


Terry Pratchett 1948 – 2015

terry-pratchettThe man who gave us Discworld is gone.

Sir Terry Pratchett died today, at home, surrounded by family, of complications from end-stage early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Throughout Pratchett’s lengthy career, he published over 70 books. He was by far best known for his Discworld books, a series of 40 bizarre and very funny fantasy novels set on the fictional “Discworld”, which is of course a flat disc placed on the backs of four elephants, who are standing atop the shell of a giant turtle. They’re like reading Tolkien, or at times even Aesop, if Tolkien and Aesop had wonderfully witty, nerdy, unapologetically groan-worthy senses of humour. The Discworld series garnered a fiercely dedicated group of fans, and has been translated into 37 languages to date.

One of Pratchett’s most successful non-Discworld books was his collaboration with Neil Gaiman called Good Omens, released in 1990. Pratchett’s cheerful zaniness and Gaiman’s dark, wry wit balanced perfectly to result in an extremely funny novel about witches, angels, the Beast, and children.

After Pratchett’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2007, the author was shocked to learn how little money goes to Alzheimer’s research. He not only made a sizable donation himself, but also became a willingly vocal public champion of research into the disease. His efforts included a two-part documentary television special on the BBC about this experiences with Alzheimer’s, called Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer’s. He made several other radio and television appearances to discuss the illness, as well.

As his condition deteriorated, Pratchett also stepped into the public eye to bring awareness to the right-to-die movement, whose mandate would grant the right, for terminally ill patients, to choose voluntary euthanasia to end their life.

In July 2014, Pratchett’s health forced him to miss a Discworld convention for the first time ever. He died today, March 12th, 2015. He was 66.


Longlist for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

Longlisted Books for the 2015 Bailey's Women's Prize for FictionThe longlist for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced. Just to catch you up, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was begun as the Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996, changed its name to the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction in 2007, then back to the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2009, then to the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2013, and now is the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

While finding a suitable label seems a challenge, finding a wealth of excellent literature to choose from is almost too easy. The prize is awarded annually to a female author for an original full-length novel. The winning author can be of any nationality, provided the book in question was written in English and published in the UK. A few of the previous winners include Carol Shields, Ann Patchett, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Zadie Smith. Last year’s victor was Eimear McBride, whose winning debut novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing also took the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize, and several other honours.

Shami Chakrabarti, Chair of judges, says of the 2015 longlist:

“The Prize’s 20th year is a particularly strong one for women’s fiction. All judges fought hard for their favourites and the result is a 2015 list of 20 to be proud of – with its mix of genres and styles, first-timers and well-known names from around the world.”

Here is this year’s longlist:

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Outline by Rachel Cusk
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
Aren’t We Sisters? by Patricia Ferguson
I Am China by Xiaolu Guo
Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
The Offering by Grace McCleen
The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman
The Life of a Banana by PP Wong
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill
The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips
The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert
A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie
How to be Both by Ali Smith
After Before by Jemma Wayne
The Shore by Sara Taylor
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
The Bees by Laline Paull

This is also exciting news for tiny independent publisher Legend Press, founded just 10 years ago. To land two titles – The Life of a Banana by PP Wong and After Before by Jemma Wayne – on the list, alongside heavy-hitter industry standard publishing houses like Hamish Hamilton, Jonathan Cape, Bloomsbury and Viking is quite a feather in the cap of the small publisher, whose four staff members (total) are clearly doing something right.

Of the 20 listed above, I’ve only read three, but my vote would be for The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. She is an author whose entire bibliography I would recommend, but I think The Paying Guests is her best offering so far. I could hardly put it down and was sad when it was over.

The shortlist will be announced on 13th April, with the winner following on 3rd June.


Classic Children’s Books Quiz

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Do you think you know children’s books? How well? Would you say the images of book covers from childhood are embedded in your brain?

Well, here’s a chance to find out. Test your mettle with this quiz of 30 classic childhood book covers. We chose the most iconic kids’ books we could think of, took a snippet from the cover, and enlarged it. Go on, take the quiz. Be sure to let us know how many you recognise correctly!


Imagine owning a copy of Alice in Wonderland signed by the original Alice

The signature of Alice Hargreaves – the original Alice who inspired Lewis Carroll

What’s the ultimate book for fans of Alice in Wonderland? It might be one of the Limited Editions Club editions from 1932 that were signed by Alice Hargreaves, the original Alice who inspired Lewis Carroll to write his fantastic story. AbeBooks sold such a copy for £2,500/$4,000 earlier this week.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is 150 years old this summer and you are going to see a lot of Alice-themed articles in the coming months as the literary world pays tribute to this iconic children’s book.

The LEC edition features the famous original illustrations by John Tenniel. Alice Hargreaves was the married name of Alice Liddell. Carroll was a close friend of the Liddell family and the nature of his relationship with Alice has been much debated. She went on to marry a cricketer called Reginald Hargreaves, and have three sons – two of whom were killed in World War I.

She was forced to sell her personal manuscript of Carroll’s book when she ran into financial problems, but the copy was eventually purchased by the British Library and brought back from America. Alice died in 1934.

The Limited Edition Club edition of Alice in Wonderland from 1932


Stefan Zweig: The Tragic Author Who Inspired The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was the talk of Sunday’s 2015 Academy Awards. The delightful, unusual film was being nominated for nine Oscars, and won four, in the categories of Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Only Birdman, the best picture-winner, won as many. What few people seem to know is that Anderson’s original, beautiful tale of Gustave H and Zero the lobby boy is loosely based on and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, an Austrian novelist whose own story is enough to break your heart.

zweig-goebbelsZweig was Jewish, and at the apex of his career could be counted as one of the world’s most respected and popular authors. Hitler’s increasing followers and rise to power made him fearful and uncomfortable. In this original letter (left), Zweig writes for support and assistance to a Mr. Glaser. The precipitating event? Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich, had publicly quoted Zweig as calling the German people a “horde that needed to be unmasked”, which Stefan Zweig had never said at all. Despite his desperate attempts to clear his name and have the truth brought to light, Zweig’s books began to appear at book burnings along with other Jewish-written works, and Zweig left Austria the following year, in 1934.

Discover more about Stefan Zweig and the whole story behind The Grand Budapest Hotel.