How-To: The York Antiquarian Book Seminar

Credit Alice Laverty

If you’re interested in learning more about the rare book business, applications are still open for the annual York Antiquarian Book Seminar (YABS), which will run October 31 to November 3, 2022.

YABS was established by Alice Laverty and Anthony Smithson from Keel Row Books in North Shields in 2014 as a European sister seminar to the long-running Antiquarian Book Seminars previously held in Colorado and now based in Minnesota. It is co-organized with the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association.

Over three and a half days in central York, experienced collectors, booksellers, and librarians run a series of lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and visits looking at all aspects of the trade. People with all levels of expertise are welcome, from beginners to those with plenty of experience. As well as help with practical matters, it is also an excellent networking opportunity. Spaces are limited although there is also a waiting list option. (Here is one attendee's report from 2017.) 

This year’s keynote speaker will be Joan Winterkorn, former head of valuations at Bernard Quaritch, and among the topics covered in the sessions will be: postage, packaging, presentation and export licenses; bibliographical description; selling to institutional libraries; cataloguing ephemera and archives; book fairs; and running an open shop.

Fees for the 2022 seminar are £550 ($660), which includes all events plus instructional materials, lunch, and a last night dinner, but not accommodation. YABS attendees also receive special offers related to running a bookselling business. There are various scholarships available enabling people to attend for free, including one offered by Abebooks for which the closing date is August 15.

From this year onwards, the seminar will be steered by the charity arm of the ABA, the ABA Educational Trust, with event management support from the ABA office. Looking back on the last seven years, bookseller Alice Laverty said, “We’ve had over 200 students through the course, and the feedback every year from students has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s a special event, based on sharing knowledge within the trade. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved on behalf on our students and we’re ready to hand it over new organizers.”