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Meet one of the ABA's newest members Carl Williams Rare Books

Meet one of our newest Members, Carl Williams of Carl Williams Rare Books.

Tell us about your business and how you got started in the trade?

I do what all of us do: buy and sell books, prints, ephemera, etc. in specialisms.

Customers/friends and other dealers wanted me to start dealing in the things that I had dealt in at Maggs for a long time. I heeded the call-up. I started as what they call in the US a ‘book scout’. Then I co-started a dotcom selling rare/second-hand books. Then a big bookshop and working for a collector simultaneously.

Picking just one, what’s your key specialism, and what inspired it?

The Spanish Civil War - big, bold, saleable graphics made in a good cause are always inspiring.

What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed since you started trading?

A global disease.

What’s the one book you wish you kept for yourself after selling?

Over 100 Spanish Civil War banners, pennants and flags. Or, a Perspex geodesic chandelier by Buckminster Fuller.

What’s the one book you regret not buying?

The manuscript for Les 120 Journées de Sodome by Donatien Alphonse François, The Marquis de Sade.

Book fairs are a big part of the trade calendar. In your experience, what makes for a successful pitch at a fair?

Forewarning customers by all means at your disposal and by inducing them to come with fulfillable promises of new, exciting material in a cool, accessible venue. Within the fair, there’s nothing like a buzz around your stand to encourage impulsive purchasing.


Find Carl's contact details here.

Read more from the ABA's Summer Newsletter (415) here.