Camilla Szymanowska, Secretary
Antiquarian Booksellers Association
6 Bell Yard, London WC2A 2JR
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7421 4681
Fax: +44 (0)20 7421 4641
Send an e-mail

Seminar History

The York Antiquarian Book Seminar is the sister seminar of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar and has been created with the support of the Colorado faculty. Anthony Smithson, of Keel Row Books, attended the Colorado seminar in 2011 and was so impressed with the intentions, execution and results of the seminar that he decided to answer the glaring need for a European equivalent and garnered support from the UK's  principle rare book trade associations.

The Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar is a nonprofit organization which has been running since 1978.

Seminar History

The first two seminar programmes (2014 and 2015) were fully booked. The student feedback was overwhelming positive.

Here's what one of our students had to say about attending the seminar in 2014:

I seem to be a human ‘First Edition’... I attended the inaugural York Antiquarian Book Seminar 2014.

Although I arrived as a recent English graduate hoping to learn a little about another aspect of the ‘book world’, I left with a sense of vocation and a contacts list to swoon over.

Anthony Smithson and Jonathan Kearns formed a faculty of booksellers, archivists and librarians whose impressive credentials could have been intimidating to the likes of me; after all, I had no real experience of the antiquarian trade beyond sniffing books and alphabetising my shelves of beauties. As it was, their enthusiasm was infectious and their willingness to share expertise with an antiquarian 'newbie' like me deeply impressive. This is, I soon learnt, a business built on passion, relationships and decency.

The three day seminar took the form of lectures, workshops and tours. From keynote speaker Rob Rulon-Miller and guest speakers Lorne Bair and Carl Williams, we learnt about their passions and areas of expertise. Ed Maggs and Tim Pye discussed archives and libraries, Nigel Burwood described keeping shop and Adam Douglas alerted us to fakes, forgeries and theft. From Sophie Schneideman, Justin Croft, Anthony Smithson, Simon Beattie and Jonathan Kearns we learnt and practised a broad range of bookselling fundamentals from business basics to cataloguing to website management.

 The expertise of fellow students was a surprise both to me and the faculty. Booksellers made the journey to York not only from as far south as Devon, but also from USA, Germany and Ireland. There were those sent by employers for training, those who wished to gain a broader knowledge outside their specialism, and those who wanted to be part of a prime networking opportunity. One would assume that in such a diverse group some students would have benefited more than others but no, not true. Everybody I spoke to, and every feedback form, gave glowing reviews and sincere wishes for YABS to continue.

For me personally, this was the best introduction to the antiquarian book trade I could wish for. Not only do I now have a ‘map’ and a clear idea of which path to pursue, but I have highly respected specialists I can turn to for advice while I find my feet. I would recommend YABS 2015 to everybody with a passion for antiquarian books, including curious beginners like me.

Lucie Ware , 2014 seminar alumna.