Course Content

YABS seeks to provide an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience with booksellers and collectors 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 a balance between online bookselling and more traditional methods.

The seminar is designed for people of all levels of experience, from beginners to those with years of experience who want to hone their skills in this rapidly changing field. 

Over the past five years, we have had the privilege of listening to many outstanding speakers, including our keynote speakers Rob Rulon-Miller (past president of the ABAA), Sally Burdon (current president of ILAB), Heather O'Donnell (Honey & Wax Booksellers, USA), Sunday Steinkirchner (B&B Rare Books, USA) and Lisa Baskin (Cumberland Rare Books, USA). The seminar provides an  unparalleled opportunity to meet and network with fellow booksellers, librarians and collectors from all stratas of the trade.


Topics Covered


Sourcing stock • Evaluating and Pricing Books • Reference Tools for the Book Trade • Writing Effective Book Descriptions • Buying and Selling Online • Buying and Selling at Auction • Archives and Collections • Setting Up and Using a Bookseller Database • Building and Marketing a Customer Base • Photographing Books • Creating Your Own Website • Creating a Catalogue • Operating a Profitable Open Shop • Selling Books to Libraries • Selling Books on Consignment • Forgeries and Theft

And much more besides...


2019 Schedule


Sunday 8th (optional)


18:00 - 19.00
Optional pre-seminar drinks at the pub! Meet at the Punchbowl (across the street from the Bar Convent). Meet the faculty and your fellow students in advance of the seminar.



Day One- Monday 9th


08:30 - 09:00
Registration – Sophie Pointon and Alice Laverty.

09:00 - 9:45
Introductory Remarks, Introductions and recognition of  Scholarship winners – Anthony Smithson - Keel Row Books     

9:45 - 10:45
Keynote Speaker – Brian Cassidy

10:45 - 11.00

11:00 - 12:15
Bookselling Fundamentals: Business Basics – Deborah Coltham Rare Books, and Alice Laverty, Keel Row Books

12.15 - 13:00
LUNCH – discussion with faculty continues over lunch

13:00 - 14:30
Buying Books –  Stephen Foster and Anthony Smithson, Keel Row Books

14:30 - 14:45

14:45 - 15:45
Post Modern Bookselling Pt 1 – Jonathan Kearns

15.45 - 17.30
Bibliographical Description – Simon Beattie and Adam Douglas

18:30 - 19:30

Tour of Thin Ice Press, the working print press in the Department of English and
Related Literature at the University of York. Hosted by Head of Department, Helen Smith. We travel by coach. A light buffet and refreshments are served.



Day Two- Tuesday 10th


08:30 - 10:15
How to Catalogue a Book – Simon Beattie and Adam Douglas of Peter Harrington Rare Books

10:15 - 10:30

10:30 - 12.30
Cataloging Workshop

12.30 - 13.15
LUNCH  discussion with faculty continues over lunch

13:15 - 14.15
Speciality Dealer – Laura Massey of Alembic Rare Books

14:15 - 15:15
Selling to Institutional Libraries – Lucy Evans, Curator, Printed Heritage Collections at the British Library and Simon Beattie

15:15 - 15:30

15:30 - 16:30
Post Modern Bookselling Pt 2 – Jonathan Kearns

16:30 - 17:30
Book Fairs and Running an open shop – Anthony Smithson, Keel Row Books

17:30 - 19.30
Bookshop Tour



Day Three- Wednesday 11th


08:30 - 10:15

Avoiding Fakes, Forgeries & Theft – Adam Douglas, Peter Harrington Rare Books

10:15 – 10:30


10:30 – 11.30

Evaluating, Pricing & Selling - Stephen Foster, Foster Books

11:30 - 12:45  

Cataloguing Ephemera and archives – Deborah Coltham

12:45 – 13:30

LUNCH - discussion with faculty continues over lunch

13:30 - 14:30

Post Modern Bookselling Pt 3 – Jonathan Kearns

14:30 - 14:45


14:45 - 16:30

The Art of the Book – Sophie Schneideman

16:30 - Onwards

Open forum

18:30 - 21:00
Farewell Dinner



Thursday 12th (optional)


10:30 - 11:30

Join us on library tour. Full details to be confirmed. In previous years Peter Miller, ex of Spelman’s, has organised a tour of historic local libraries and archives, including York Minster Library and the Yorkshire Museums Archive. Please let us know at registration whether you wish to attend the library visit. Places are limited and are on a first come, first served basis.

Afternoon (time to be confirmed)

See behind the scenes at the York National Bookfair set-up. Full details to be confirmed. In previous years we have been able offer a limited number of students an opportunity to attend the bookfair during set up. Please let us know at registration whether you wish to attend the bookfair set-up. This is at the discretion of the fair managers and you will not be allowed to purchase books during the pre-fair period.



Friday 13th & Saturday 14th (optional)


Friday 13th 12.00 - 19.00 and Saturday 14th 10.00 - 17.00

PBFA’s York National Book Fair is held on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th September. It’s the largest book fair in Europe and worth sticking around for... a great opportunity to meet new contacts, buy books and ask questions. Complimentary tickets to attend the fair will be available at registration.