In my quest to become an antiquarian bookseller over the past three years, I’ve done a lot of different things: I found a mentor. I’ve attended Rare Book Seminars and Rare Book Schools. I’ve sold books online and at book fairs. I’ve (finally) issued my first print catalogue. Now I’ve started to think about other milestones I’d like to reach. The first of these is to join a trade association. While I aspire to join the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), I don’t yet have enough experience to be considered for membership. I do plan to apply for membership in that organization when the time comes.
In the meantime, I recently became a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA). The organization was founded in 1999, around the time bookselling was beginning to migrate online and many book search services began to collect listings of books for sale from anyone and everyone. Longtime booksellers were concerned about the lack of standards they sometimes saw in the written descriptions of books listed for sale online, and they formed a trade organization to “address key issues of establishing trust between bookseller and book buyer, helping to train future generations of new booksellers, advocating for our members, and acting as a clearinghouse for information.”
Not only does IOBA have a Code of Ethics for its booksellers, it also has a Book Buyer’s Bill of Rights. It’s got a glossary of Book Terminology and Definitions of Book Condition and a nice list of reference works useful to collectors and sellers.
Thinking of becoming a bookseller? They even have a section on their website (written by my very own mentor, Mr. Z) called “So You Want to be a Bookseller?” that will give you some food for thought and some concrete ideas for getting started in the book trade.
I’ve saved the best for last. The site also lists books for sale and has a good search function for seeking out that elusive title.
Now that I’m a member of IOBA, I’ll soon be listing some of my books for sale over at IOBA as well as on my own website. If you’re a bookseller, consider becoming a member. If you’re a book collector, consider browsing for books at IOBA next time you shop. The experience of buying and selling books there promises to be a good one for both buyers and sellers.