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A Look into Book Clubs and Associations for Old Book Enthusiasts

The world of old books holds a unique charm, beckoning us with stories from bygone eras and the craftsmanship of a bygone trade. For those who share this passion, numerous book clubs and associations offer a welcoming and enriching space. Let's delve into ten such organizations, exploring their histories, activities, and what makes them stand out in the realm of bibliophilia.



The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA): Guardians of the Rare and Antiquarian


Founded in 1949, the ABAA is a prestigious non-profit organization representing professional rare and antiquarian booksellers in North America. Its core mission revolves around fostering ethical practices, providing educational resources, and promoting the antiquarian book trade.


Notable Facts:

  • The ABAA enforces a strict Code of Ethics ensuring authenticity and fair dealing for both buyers and sellers.

  • They host annual antiquarian book fairs across the country, showcasing a treasure trove of rare finds.

  • The ABAA website provides a valuable directory of member booksellers, allowing collectors to find reputable sources.

Notable Members:

Membership in the ABAA is a mark of distinction in the antiquarian book trade. Specific member names are not publicly available, but the organization boasts a network of highly respected booksellers across the US and Canada.


Locations:

The ABAA is a national organization, with its headquarters in Newark, Delaware. However, member booksellers operate from various locations across North America.


How to Join:

While the ABAA primarily serves professional booksellers, they offer "Friend" memberships for passionate collectors who wish to support the organization and gain access to certain resources.


Membership Advantages:

  • Access to a directory of reputable booksellers

  • Educational resources and publications on book collecting

  • Invitations to special events and book fairs


What Makes Them Unique:

The ABAA acts as a vital link between collectors and trustworthy antiquarian booksellers. Their commitment to ethical trade practices and fostering knowledge ensures a secure and enriching experience for anyone delving into the world of rare books.


The Book Club of California: A Celebration of Bookmaking as Art


Founded in San Francisco in 1912, The Book Club of California is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of fine printing and bookmaking. More than just a book club, it fosters a vibrant community that celebrates the book as a physical object, encompassing its design, craftsmanship, and historical significance.


Notable Facts:

  • The Book Club of California publishes exquisite limited editions featuring high-quality printing and original artwork. These publications are coveted by collectors and bibliophiles.

  • They organize lectures, exhibitions, and workshops led by renowned experts in typography, bookbinding, and the history of the book.

  • The club maintains a well-stocked special collections library housing rare books, manuscripts, and printing ephemera, accessible to members for research and exploration.


Notable Members:

Throughout its history, the Book Club of California has attracted prominent figures in the world of books and printing. Due to privacy concerns, specific member names are not available, but the organization boasts a membership of bibliophiles, printers, scholars, and artists with a deep passion for the book arts.


Location:

The Book Club of California is headquartered in San Francisco, California.


How to Join:

Membership in the Book Club of California is open to anyone with a love for fine books. They offer various membership tiers, each with escalating benefits such as access to exclusive events, publications, and discounts.


Membership Advantages:

  • Participation in lectures, exhibitions, and workshops on bookmaking and book history

  • Access to the special collections library for research

  • Subscription to the club's informative publications

  • Discounted rates on limited edition books and club merchandise


What Makes Them Unique:

The Book Club of California's focus on the book as a physical object sets it apart. Their dedication to fine printing, exquisite publications, and the preservation of bookmaking traditions offers a unique perspective on the world of old books, enriching the experience for bibliophiles beyond simply reading the content within.


The Grolier Club: A New York Legacy of Bibliophilia


Established in 1884, the Grolier Club in New York City is one of the most prestigious and well-respected bibliophilic societies in the United States. Named after Jean Grolier, a renowned 16th-century patron of bookbinding, the club fosters a love of books and graphic

arts through a range of engaging activities.


Notable Facts:

  • The Grolier Club boasts a magnificent library containing rare books, manuscripts, and works of art related to the history of printing and bookbinding.

  • They host renowned exhibitions showcasing significant pieces from their collection, as well as guest exhibitions on various book-related themes.

  • The Grolier Club publishes limited-edition bibliographies, monographs, and facsimiles of rare books, coveted by collectors for their beauty and scholarly value.


Notable Members:

Over the years, the Grolier Club has attracted a distinguished membership list. Historically, figures like Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and Grolier Club founder Roswell P. Flower Jr. have been members. While specific contemporary members are not publicly available, the club maintains a reputation for attracting prominent bibliophiles and collectors.


Location:

The Grolier Club is located in a beautiful townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side, New York City.


How to Join:

Membership in the Grolier Club is highly selective and requires nomination by an existing member and approval by the club's committee.


Membership Advantages:

  • Access to the club's renowned library for research and exploration

  • Participation in exclusive lectures, exhibitions, and social events

  • Subscription to the club's publications, including scholarly journals and limited-edition books


What Makes Them Unique:

The Grolier Club's rich history, distinguished membership, and focus on both scholarship and social engagement create a unique space for bibliophiles. The combination of a world-class library, curated exhibitions, and limited-edition publications makes it a haven for those who appreciate the art and history of the book at the highest level.


The Bibliographical Society: Unveiling the Secrets of Books


Founded in London in 1892, the Bibliographical Society is a scholarly organization dedicated to the study of books and manuscripts as physical objects. Their focus goes beyond the written content, delving into the history, printing techniques, binding styles, and

other physical characteristics that tell a story about the book itself.


Notable Facts:

  • The Bibliographical Society publishes a prestigious quarterly journal, "The Library," which features scholarly articles on bibliography, textual criticism, and the history of the book.

  • They organize conferences, lectures, and workshops led by prominent bibliographers and scholars, providing a platform for the exchange of knowledge and research.

  • The Bibliographical Society offers grants to support research projects in the field of bibliography, fostering advancements in this specialized discipline.


Notable Members:

The Bibliographical Society boasts a membership of scholars, librarians, antiquarian booksellers, and bibliophiles with a deep interest in the physical aspects of books. Specific member names are not publicly available, but the organization has a long history of attracting prominent figures in the field.


Location:

The Bibliographical Society is based in the United Kingdom, though the exact location is not publicly available.


How to Join:

Membership in the Bibliographical Society is open to anyone with a demonstrable interest in bibliography. They offer various membership tiers, each with escalating benefits such as access to publications, events, and online resources.


Membership Advantages:

  • Subscription to the highly respected journal, "The Library"

  • Participation in conferences, lectures, and workshops on bibliography

  • Access to online resources and databases

  • Eligibility for research grants


What Makes Them Unique:

The Bibliographical Society's focus on the scholarly study of books as physical objects sets them apart. Their publications, conferences, and research grants contribute significantly to the advancement of bibliographical knowledge, making them a valuable resource for anyone with a deep interest in the history and physical makeup of books.


The Folio Society:


The Folio Society is not a club or association in the traditional sense, but a unique publishing house established in London in 1947. Their mission is to create beautifully illustrated and finely crafted editions of classic and contemporary literature.


Notable Facts:

  • The Folio Society publications are known for their exquisite bindings, high-quality paper, and original illustrations by renowned artists. They are considered collector's items for bibliophiles.

  • The Society offers a membership program that provides exclusive benefits such as early access to new releases, discounts on publications, and special limited editions.

  • They collaborate with guest artists and designers to create unique and thematic editions of various literary works.


Location:

The Folio Society is headquartered in London, England.


How to Join:

Anyone can join the Folio Society's membership program by signing up on their website. Different membership tiers offer varying benefits.


Membership Advantages:

  • Early access to new releases and limited editions

  • Discounted prices on publications

  • Exclusive member events and online content

  • Opportunity to purchase special member-only editions


What Makes Them Unique:

The Folio Society stands out by transforming classic literature into beautiful physical objects. Their commitment to high-quality printing, original artwork, and unique designs caters to bibliophiles who appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship alongside the literary content.


Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA): A Celebration of Austen's Enduring Legacy


Founded in 1972, the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) is a literary society dedicated to the life and works of Jane Austen, the beloved English novelist. JASNA fosters a community of Austen enthusiasts who come together to celebrate her novels, explore their historical context, and delve deeper into the world of Regency England.


Notable Facts:

  • JASNA organizes annual regional conferences featuring guest speakers, panel discussions, and workshops centered around Jane Austen's novels and life.

  • Local chapters across North America host regular meetings, book discussions, social events, and activities related to Austen's works and the Regency era.

  • JASNA publishes a quarterly scholarly journal, "Persuasions," featuring articles, reviews, and essays related to Jane Austen studies.


Notable Members:

JASNA boasts a diverse membership of scholars, educators, students, and avid readers who share a love for Jane Austen's works. Specific member names are not available, but the organization attracts individuals from all walks of life with a passion for Austen.


Locations:

JASNA operates as a national organization in the United States and Canada, with regional chapters scattered across various locations.


How to Join:

Anyone interested in Jane Austen can join JASNA by subscribing to their membership program. Membership offers access to various benefits, including the journal, discounts on events, and online resources.


Membership Advantages:

  • Subscription to the quarterly journal, "Persuasions"

  • Discounted rates for regional conferences and events

  • Access to online resources, including member forums and archives

  • Participation in local chapter activities and discussions


What Makes Them Unique:

JASNA offers a welcoming space for anyone who enjoys Jane Austen's novels. Their combination of scholarly pursuits, social events, and regional chapters fosters a vibrant community that celebrates Austen's legacy and allows members to connect with like-minded individuals.


The Sherlock Holmes Society of London: In the Footsteps of the Great Detective


Established in 1951, the Sherlock Holmes Society of London is a group dedicated to the literary adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the iconic detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They provide a platform for fans to discuss, analyze, and celebrate the enduring legacy of these captivating stories.


Notable Facts:

  • The Society publishes a quarterly journal, "The Sherlock Holmes Journal," featuring scholarly articles, fictional pastiches (continuations of the original stories written by other authors), and news related to Sherlock Holmes.

  • They organize regular meetings, lectures, and events featuring guest speakers, discussions, and activities centered around the Sherlock Holmes universe.

  • The Society maintains a close relationship with the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street in London.


Notable Members:

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London welcomes fans from all walks of life. Specific member names are not available, but the organization boasts a global membership with a shared passion for the detective's adventures.


Location:

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London is based in the city of its namesake, though the exact location details are not publicly available.


How to Join:

Anyone with an interest in Sherlock Holmes can join the Society by contacting them through their website or attending a meeting.


Membership Advantages:

  • Subscription to the "The Sherlock Holmes Journal"

  • Participation in regular meetings, lectures, and events

  • Access to online resources and member forums

  • Connection with a global community of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts


What Makes Them Unique:

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London caters specifically to fans of the detective's stories. Their scholarly publications, engaging events, and connection to the Sherlock Holmes Museum offer a unique space for deep dives into the world of Sherlock Holmes and a chance to connect with fellow enthusiasts.


The Dickens Fellowship: A Global Gathering of Dickens Devotees


Founded in 1902, the Dickens Fellowship is an international association dedicated to promoting the study and appreciation of the works of Charles Dickens, the renowned Victorian novelist. With branches around the world, the Fellowship fosters a community of Dickens enthusiasts who gather to celebrate his literary genius and explore the social themes embedded within his novels.


Notable Facts:

  • The Dickens Fellowship organizes regular meetings, lectures, and discussions centered around Dickens's novels and characters. These events delve into literary analysis, historical context, and the ongoing cultural impact of his works.

  • They publish a quarterly journal, "The Dickensian," featuring scholarly articles, book reviews, and insights into the life and times of Charles Dickens.

  • The Fellowship organizes pilgrimages to locations significant in Dickens's life and works, allowing members to experience the settings firsthand.


Notable Members:

The Dickens Fellowship welcomes individuals from all walks of life with a shared appreciation for Dickens's writing. Specific member names are not publicly available, but the organization boasts a global membership with a diverse range of interests in the author.


Locations:

The Dickens Fellowship operates as an international organization with branches in various countries worldwide. These branches hold independent events and activities.


How to Join:

Anyone interested in Charles Dickens can find contact information for their nearest branch on the Dickens Fellowship website. Membership typically involves a small annual fee and offers access to branch activities and publications.


Membership Advantages:

  • Participation in regular branch meetings, lectures, and discussions

  • Subscription to the quarterly journal, "The Dickensian"

  • Access to online resources and member forums

  • Connection with a global community of Dickens enthusiasts

  • Opportunity to participate in pilgrimages to significant Dickens-related locations


What Makes Them Unique:

The Dickens Fellowship's global reach and focus on community building set it apart. Their local branches allow for in-person interaction and exploration of Dickens's works, fostering a vibrant community of fans who share a passion for the author's legacy.


The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society: Delving into the World of Weird Fiction


Established in 1987, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society caters to fans of H.P. Lovecraft, the horror fiction writer who pioneered the genre of cosmic horror. The Society offers a platform for discussion, exploration, and celebration of Lovecraft's unique brand of dark fiction and the enduring Cthulhu Mythos he created.


Notable Facts:

  • The Society publishes a journal, "The Lovecraft Studies," featuring scholarly articles, reviews, and discussions on Lovecraft's works, his influence on horror fiction, and the broader context of weird fiction.

  • They organize conferences, lectures, and events featuring guest speakers, film screenings, and discussions centered around Lovecraftian themes and cosmic horror.

  • The Society produces and distributes limited-edition chapbooks, audiobooks, and other publications related to Lovecraft's writings and the Cthulhu Mythos.


Notable Members:

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society welcomes fans and scholars of Lovecraft's work. Specific member names are not publicly available, but the organization boasts a global membership with a fascination for the dark and macabre.


Location:

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society operates primarily online, though they may organize occasional events in various locations.


How to Join:

Anyone interested in H.P. Lovecraft can join the Society through their website. Membership offers access to various benefits, including the journal, online forums, and discounts on publications.


Membership Advantages:

  • Subscription to "The Lovecraft Studies" journal

  • Access to online member forums and resources

  • Discounted rates for events and limited-edition publications

  • Connection with a global community of Lovecraft enthusiasts


What Makes Them Unique:

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society caters to a specific niche within the horror genre. Their focus on Lovecraft's work, the Cthulhu Mythos, and the exploration of cosmic horror offers a unique space for fans to delve deeper into this particular brand of dark fiction.


The National Book Collecting Contest: A Springboard for Young Book Enthusiasts


The National Book Collecting Contest, established in 2005 by Fine Books & Collections Magazine and currently administered by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) (previously covered in entry #1), is an annual competition designed to ignite a passion for books and book collecting in young people. This national contest specifically targets students between the ages of 14 and 18, offering them a platform to showcase their unique collections and knowledge.


Notable Facts:

  • The National Book Collecting Contest boasts a variety of categories, allowing participants to present collections built around diverse themes or genres. This encourages students to explore their individual interests within the vast world of books.

  • Judges evaluate entries based on a well-defined set of criteria. These criteria include the clarity and focus of the chosen theme, the collector's demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter, and the overall quality and coherence of the assembled collection. While the monetary value of the collection is not a primary concern, the condition and presentation of the books are taken into account.

  • Winners of the National Book Collecting Contest receive prestigious awards, including cash prizes, recognition within the book-collecting community, and the opportunity to participate in special events. These awards serve as a significant motivator for young bibliophiles.


How to Participate:

Students who meet the age criteria and are passionate about books can participate in the National Book Collecting Contest. Typically, they enter through a contest held at their college or university library. If their institution doesn't offer such a program, students can submit their entries directly to the national competition. Specific deadlines and entry guidelines are available on the ABAA website (https://www.abaa.org/blog/post/2024-national-collegiate-book-collecting-contest).


What Makes Them Unique:

The National Book Collecting Contest stands out for its specific focus on fostering a love for books and book-collecting in young people. By providing a platform for them to showcase their collections and knowledge, the contest ignites a passion for the written word and the history and value of physical books in a digital age. This focus on young collectors ensures the continuation of the book-collecting tradition for generations to come.


A Look at Ten Book Clubs and Associations


For bibliophiles and enthusiasts of the written word, the world of old books holds a captivating charm. This realm offers not just captivating stories, but also a rich history of printing, craftsmanship, and the physical book itself. Delving deeper, we discover a vibrant community fostered by numerous book clubs and associations. Here, we explore ten such organizations, each offering a unique perspective on the appreciation and exploration of old books.


For the Discerning Collector:

  • The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA): This prestigious organization safeguards ethical practices in the antiquarian book trade and offers resources for collectors seeking reputable booksellers. (Entry #1)

  • The Book Club of California: This club transcends mere book discussions, celebrating the art of bookmaking through exhibitions, workshops, and exquisite limited editions. (Entry #2)

  • The Grolier Club: A haven for bibliophiles and collectors, the Grolier Club boasts a renowned library, curated exhibitions, and limited-edition publications. (Entry #3)


Unveiling the Secrets of the Book:

  • The Bibliographical Society: For those fascinated by the physical aspects of books, this scholarly organization delves into the history, printing techniques, and binding styles that tell a story about the book itself. (Entry #4)


Transforming Literature into Art:

  • The Folio Society: This unique publisher elevates classic and contemporary literature with beautifully illustrated and finely crafted editions, appealing to bibliophiles who appreciate artistic merit alongside literary content. (Entry #5)


Celebrating Literary Legacies:

  • Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA): This organization fosters a vibrant community for Austen enthusiasts, offering conferences, discussions, and a scholarly journal dedicated to her life and enduring works. (Entry #6)

  • The Sherlock Holmes Society of London: A haven for fans of the iconic detective, this society provides a platform to analyze, discuss, and celebrate the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. (Entry #7)

  • The Dickens Fellowship: With a global reach, this fellowship promotes the study and appreciation of Charles Dickens's novels, organizing events and discussions that delve into his literary genius and the social themes embedded within his works. (Entry #8)

  • The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society: Catering to fans of horror fiction, this society explores the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the unique brand of cosmic horror he created, offering publications, events, and a platform for discussion. (Entry #9)


Inspiring the Next Generation:

  • The National Book Collecting Contest: This annual competition specifically targets young people, encouraging them to develop a passion for book collecting and the appreciation of physical books in a digital age. (Entry #10)


These ten organizations represent just a glimpse into the diverse and enriching world of book clubs and associations dedicated to old books. Whether your passion lies in rare first editions, the art of bookbinding, or the enduring legacy of a beloved author, there's a community waiting to welcome you. So, delve deeper, explore these organizations, and discover the unique ways they celebrate the timeless allure of the old book.

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