Preparations for the PBFA London Antiquarian Fair

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 19.22.58

It is that time of year again, when Marcia and I must put all thoughts of road trips to one side, whilst we concentrate on preparing for the PBFA London Antiquarian Book Fair.  As the name suggests, this is in London, has lots of antiquarian books and is put on by the PBFA. We manage the fair – so it keeps up pretty busy.


This year, we have once more gathered a group of over 100 exhibitors who come to London to buy and sell beautiful books, maps and other works on paper. Dealers come from every part of the world to be part of the fair. This year at the Ibis Hotel, Lillie Road, we will welcome dealers from Canada – including Aquila books, and Voyager Press. From America,  B & B Rare Books and D & D Galleries. (My new policy of only accepting Americans who use initials for their trading name seems to be bearing fruit). We also have friends old and new from Europe. Christian Haslinger and Antiquariaat Talke will both be presenting their usual impressive stands. We are also bringing along a contingent of Dutch booksellers this year, who we have met on our travels.

ilec 5

Of course our core membership are the stalwarts of the PBFA. . We are very pleased that we span the generations of the organisation. Gerry and Glenda Mosdell, from the Junction bookshop are amongst the “founding fathers” of the Association, and are at the other end of the spectrum we are pleased to once again welcome the Bibliomaniacs, a group of booksellers from Papplewick school in Ascot, who proudly claim themselves as the youngest antiquarian booksellers in the world.

Bibliomaniacs 3

Whatever your particular taste in books,  you will find examples here. From the fine bindings of Temple Bookbinders to the Modern Firsts of Holybourne Books and Cheltenham Rare Books From the ancient manuscripts of Alastor and Modern First Editions to the Antarctic explorations of Kingsbridge Books and Meridian Books. Naturally there will be a variety of maps and prints from the likes of Michael Morris and several others.

As usual, the event is part of Rare Books London, which sees London present a variety of book fairs and events to the world. We hope you will be able to come and visit the fair. If you do – be sure to say hello to Marcia on the reception, and Marc on the Harrison-Hiett stand

A Visit to Colmar book fair

Pausing only to put our snowshoes and extra warm jumpers away, Marcia and I went to the airport to go to the the SELAC fair (Salon européen du livre ancien et de la gravure de Colmar).

Colmar is a very nice little town in Alsace, just inside France. The border is so close that in the airport you choose whether to walk through customs into France, Germany or Switzerland.

Once there, we had a lovely time, with 40 dealers from France and Germany. Having met up with Kurt from Catawiki, we set off around the fair.  Two things particularly stood out for me here. One was the sheer number of excellent limited, illustrated editions by French authors (often in very limited numbers indeed), and the number of exhibitors who displayed beautiful visual pieces. Indeed, for me, this was almost a varied and fascinating art exhibition.

One of the first stands to catch my eye, was Antiquariat Barbian, from Saarbrucken with some marvellous Chagall colour lithographs printed by Mourlot of Paris, such as this editions of Le Monstres de Notre Dame 


Another stand with striking images was a local exhibitor, librairie le Cadratin of Colmar. They had some wonderful images of the Alps, including this dramatic ascent of Chamonix by Adolphe Braun.braun

My final image, was from a series of Caricatures. Pierre Chatillon was a Swiss national, who had been imprisoned during the first world war for a less than flattering image of Kaiser Willhelm. Whilst incarcerated, he produced a fabulous series of original works, all caricatures of his gaolers and other German officers. This delightful image was my favourite (See header image).These were offered, along with some original Gustave Dore illustrations by librairie Pierre Calvet


Naturally I couldn’t let the opportunity pass, and brought far too many books. In fact so many, that we had book extra baggage on the plane home, and drag Kurt along on a trip to Strasbourg in order to purchase a suitcase. Marcia was most displeased!  My favourite purchase kept up with the theme of artistic items – I picked up a lovely photograph album showing the carnival floats at Nice in 1897


Money and energy depleted, we set of home once again, to briefly rest before packing up our stock, and preparing for the Maastricht MAPF and TEFAF next weekend.

Credit card payments & the itinerant bookseller

At the recent AGM for the PBFA, I was asked to look into the various options available for booksellers to take credit card payments at fairs. Well I haven’t forgotten, and have been doing lots of digging and chatting over the last few weeks.
I am assuming here, that this is aimed at the small to medium bookseller, rather than those with a shop and several staff (who probably already have credit card facilities lined up). When I had my shop, I had a card machine that I could take around with me. This worked well, but cost me a rental of £25 per month plus standard transaction fees. Not so good if you only do one fair a month.

The good news is that there are several ways for us to accept credit card payments, and most of them are now far cheaper than this. This obviously isn’t a definitive guide – but it does offer you some options to choose from.

Ultimately, these all work in the same way. There is a small device, or reader, which connects to your mobile phone or tablet. These only work with smart phones with wi-fi or 3/4G access as they need to connect with the provider. Once the payment is taken, you can either print (if you have a portable printer) email, text or hand-write a receipt. A common problem with these devices, is that they are only as good as your phone internet signal. No signal, no transaction! Beyond these features, each differs slightly

Barclaycard Anywhere

 Method: A reader attaches via a cable to your headphone socket on your device. This costs £29.99 + barclaycard_picVAT if you have a Barclays Business Account – otherwise £60 + VAT.
Transaction cost: 2.6% of each transaction. No monthly cost or fixed contract. One drawback is that you cannot take customer not present payments.
The App allows you to keep an eye on your account and see reports. As this is offered by Barclaycard, it is reassuring to customers.


Method: There is a choice of two readers. The “Card reader lite” attaches to your phone via a cable. This is free to the business. There is also a “Card reader Pro” which cost £79 and operates via Bluetooth. This will also take contactless payments. Now that these are up to £30, this is a real plus. Using an App on izettle_readeryour device, you can manage payments and your account.
Transaction cost: These are on a sliding scale. For £0-£1999 per month these are at 2.75% This then falls by small increments with each increase in turnover. So £4,500 would cost 2% After £12,850 per month (oh if only) the rate drops to 1.5% where it remains. There is no monthly cost to this. No fixed contract.
There is also access to izettle where you can see reports and follow up on transactions. I cannot see from their website whether you can take customer not present payments via the website. Perhaps someone who uses this system can comment on this.

Gerry Mosdel recommends this service, and says it has worked well for him. If you use his link to sign up, you will get free transactions when you start:


Method: The reader is a Bluetooth reader. This costs £59.95 (until the end of October). The reader can take chip and pin or contactless payments.

Transaction costs: 2.75% per transaction. However, if the payment is taken via the magnetic strip (npaypal_readerot chip and pin) or customer not present then the fee is 3.4% + 20p. If taking money from overseas, then paypal’s exchange rate tends to be quite punitive. No monthly fees or set term.

One important thing to note here, is that the payment goes into your paypal account – not a bank account. On the other hand – the payment is credited to your account immediately.

Worldpay Zinc

Method: Payments can be taken via the card reader or online. The card reader is a blue tooth device, which currently costs £39.99 (or £29.99 – see below). The website has reports, but also has a page for taking Customer Not Present payments. This is the system I use, and it is handy for taking payments over the phone from customers.

Transactiozinc_appn costs: There are two tariffs with Zinc. If you expect to be an occasional user, then there is a 2.75% tariff with zero monthly cost. If you expect a busy month then there is a 1.95% tariff – but a monthly cost of £5.99. You can switch between the two tariffs each month – so you can set it to the zero fee setting, but phone up and change if you go over £800 (which is when it is worth changing). The new tariff will apply to the whole month.

This is offered by Streamline – who provide a large number of the credit card facilities in shops – this is their “small business” offering. If you wish to sign up using this link: ttp:// then you can get £10 off the device.

The price comparison bit

As book dealers, we are not consistently busy. For a comparison here, I have assumed there are 4 months where we take nothing at all. 4 months where we take £400. 2 months of £800 and two months of £3000 (half of which is overseas dealers). This way, we can compare and individual seller, who does a few fairs, and has a reasonable York and ILEC. I have included transaction fees and any monthly cost.

Barclaycard Anywhere: £218.40

iZettle: £209.40

Worldpay Zinc: £194.16

Paypal: £250.90


Obviously you will need to do your own calculations, based on your turnover. But in general, if you only use the reader now and again, and expect a very low turnover, Barclaycard Anywhere is cheapest. If you are hoping to take anything over £7000 per year on cards, then the Worldpay Zinc is cheapest. If contactless is important, then Zinc becomes more attractive, particularly for the lower turn over. Whichever you choose, the best of luck, and may your transactions be many and large