Highlights in publishing from expert Doug Flamm of Ursus Books

by leslierankowfinearts

IN ANTICIPATION OF THE NEW YORK ANTIQUARIAN BOOK FAIR THAT OPENS ON APRIL 12th AT THE PARK AVENUE ARMORY, I AM VERY PLEASED TO HAVE EXPERT DOUG FLAMM OF URSUS BOOKS SHARE HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE ART BOOK FAIR MARKET AND ANTIQUARIAN BOOK COLLECTING. URSUS BOOKS,  AN EXCEPTIONAL RESOURCE FOR ART BOOKS, ART REFERENCE BOOKS AND ARTIST’S BOOKS  IS LOCATED RIGHT ON MADISON AVENUE IN NEW YORK.  DOUG HAS WORKED WITH MANY COLLECTORS TO BUILD REFERENCE LIBRARIES THAT ENRICH THEIR ART COLLECTIONS, SERVED MANY GALLERIES IN THEIR RESEARCH AND PROVIDES A WONDERFUL RESOURCE FOR BOOK COLLECTORS. TODAY WE WILL LEARN ABOUT THE RESOURCES THAT URSUS TAPS IN ORDER TO PROVIDE US WITH A TERRIFIC SELECTION AND HOW TO CONSERVE AND TREAT BOOKS OF VALUE.

DOUG, BEFORE WE GET INTO THOSE DETAILS, I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO KNOW HOW YOU AND THE TEAM AT URSUS CREATE SUCH AN OUTSTANDING RESOURCE FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS. DO YOU SEEK OUT NEW MATERIAL? DO YOU BUY ENTIRE  COLLECTIONS OF BOOKS FROM ESTATES AND AT AUCTION?

We do buy entire collections, attend book fairs, and have numerous contacts around the world who will alert us to the availability of rare and out-of-print books that might interest us. Sometimes, a customer will have things for sale and contact us directly.

I CERTAINLY KNOW A BIT ABOUT ART FAIRS BUT NOTHING AT ALL ABOUT BOOK FAIRS. WHERE AND WHEN ARE THE BEST ONES?

There are two major American fairs organized under the auspices of ABAA, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, founded in 1949 to promote interest in rare books and foster collegial relations amongst its members. One is held at the Park AVenue Armory in April, the other in California in mid-February, alternating each year between San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are usually around 100 exhibitors that include international dealers and books not only in English but also in many other languages. Antiquarian book fairs  are not  limited to art and art-related books but include all fields of interest from the earliest examples of printing well into the late 20th Century.

For the fairs, Ursus strives to bring a variety of material, a sampling of what we have with the focus on illustrated books,garden and landscape topics an architectural subjects. We put an emphasis on books that represent the high points in book printing.

WHAT ARE THESE ZENITHS IN PUBLISHING?

One of the great books of the 20th Century is Matisse’s “Jazz”. It is an absolutely gorgeous book. We don’t have a copy right now but it is certainly something that we come across from time to time.

IN TERMS OF CONSERVATION WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY CONCERNS AND TREATMENTS?

Luckily, a book is a self-protecting object. If it is kept in a good environment, it will be fine. Conservators are usually required to concentrate their attention on the binding and housing of the book. Other concerns that need to be addressed include foxing (age-related spotting and browning), water stains and conservation of the paper itself.

As with art, the condition of the book plays an important role in its value. For certain books, there are acceptable conditions that might not apply to other books. It depends, in part, to the type of paper on which it is printed. The points to consider do vary from book to book and that is where the expertise of the bookseller comes into play.

For example, a great collector’s item is Jasper Johns’ “FIZZLES”. Many copies have a great deal of off-setting, “Fizzles” was printed with a great deal of ink and not all of the pages were interleaved (layering glassine or another type of protective sheet between the pages) , a key to preventing the transfer of ink from the printed page to a neighboring page. If you want a great copy, this is the use to consider for this book.

THAT’S SO INTERESTING- LIKE THE REGISTRATION ON WARHOL PAINTINGS. I’D LIKE TO EXPLORE THE BUSINESS ASPECTS OF BEING A BOOKSELLER NEXT WEEK.. I WELCOME ANY AND ALL QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO POSE TO DOUG.  FIRE AWAY!  UNTIL THEN….