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Views, anecdotes and insights into the world of antiquarian books.

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Illustrated Glossary

What book dealers really mean. Click on thumbnails for larger images.

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ABA

In the antiquarian book world this stands for the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, which is the British arm of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). On the whole British booksellers are a good lot, even if they talk funny, undervalue dustjackets, and overvalue Graham Greene. Americans like Graham Greene too, but minus a few zeroes and commas. Many British dealers have been known to take a drink, and some of them have even been known to pay for them. In the non-antiquarian book world, ABA stands for the American Booksellers' Association, which is composed primarily of publishers and sellers of new books. From time to time that ABA will get headlines by suing chain bookstores (who are also ABA members) for monopolistic practices. This is fun to watch during sweeps week, but otherwise can be ignored.

ABAA

The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America is the American organization that represents the rare book trade. It consists of approximately 475 members and their firms, and counts among their numbers most of the country's best rare booksellers. Most competent and ethical booksellers in the U.S. should probably aspire to eventual membership. Since 1949 the ABAA has a published Code of Ethics for its members, and works hard to enforce it. ABAA sponsors three annual rare book fairs, the best of their kind in America, and many would say in the world - the New York, California (which alternates between San Francisco and Los Angeles), and Boston.

Acetate

A clear plastic, sometimes used by publishers as a dustjacket. Acetate can be printed on, so modern publishers sometimes incorporate designs on an acetate jacket that complement the design of the book's boards underneath. Acetate tends to yellow, shrink, and crack as it ages - vintage books with original acetate jackets can be very difficult or impossible to obtain with the acetate as fresh and clear as it was originally. On this limited edition of John Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent offered in our List 28, the red lettering "LIMITED EDITION" is not on the printed dustjacket, but actually printed on a clear acetate overjacket.

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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

More Reference

Want to learn more about rare books and collecting? Here are a few references to get you started...