Tokyo, World Antiquarian Book Plaza, 23 April – A report from ILAB Pop Up Book Fair visitor Colin Laird (AbeBooks)

One of the most fascinating things about Japan is the harmonious blend of old and new. If you spend enough time there, seeing a thousand-year-old temple set among sky scrapers or watching as elegant ladies dressed in kimono rush past teens sporting the latest (and often bizarre) fashion trends will start to feel perfectly normal. Today, as I headed into Tokyo to attend the Pop-Up Book Fair put on by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) aboard a Shinkansen at more than 300km/h, I knew that I was about to experience one of those special paradoxes. 

Tokyo ’s edition of 2015 ILAB Pop-up Book Fair in support of Unesco World Book and Copyright Day took place in the World Antiquarian Book Plaza (WABP) – a permanent fixture on the third floor of Maruzen Bookstores in centrally located Nihonbashi. Founded in 2011, the WABP is a treasure trove of rare and antiquarian books, and collectible printed materials from 22 world-renowned antiquarian booksellers from 11 countries. 

Thoughtfully laid out with a museum-like feel, WABP offers an impressive selection of items ranging from ancient clay tablets to intricate pop-up books; and from 15th century illuminated manuscripts to 20th century modern signed first editions. The partner booksellers often refresh their inventory and local curators make great effort to elegantly display the material.  A large part of the collection is displayed out in the open, available for anyone to view up close and personal.

My host, Mr. Naoyuki Seki (Secretary of ABAJ, and Manager of Antiquarian Books for YUSHODO Co) kindly took the time to show me some very interesting books and other collectible printed material, including some of the following collections:

• A series of books published in the late 1800s as Tokyo opened its doors to Western influence. Written in languages other than Japanese (including English, French, German, and Danish) these books were printed to give a first glimpse of Japanese culture and folktales to foreigners wanting to know more about this fascinating land. Beautifully illustrated and printed on “Crepe Paper” – a cloth-like type of paper - Mr. Seki was more than happy to bring the collection out from behind the glass case to allow for a closer look, and to feel the beautiful texture.

• A special-themed monthly collection put together by the WABP members.  April’s focus was on paper – including Japanese Washi, and many other types of beautiful and collectible hand-made paper and paper products.

• A stunning selection of visually-pleasing items including woodblock prints, lithographs, and rare hand-colored early photographic postcards. It also included several rare pop-up books, depicting scenes such as the Voyage of Marco Polo, or Little Red Riding Hood.

• A set of gorgeous ancient copperplate-engraved maps printed in Germany including some of the earliest foreign-made depictions of Japan.

• A set of ancient Japanese playing cards containing phrases from historical Japanese poets.

Maruzen Bookstore is well-worth a trip on its own merits, but the addition of the WABP makes it a must-visit for any booklover in Tokyo. Take a moment to step out from the bustle of Tokyo and spend a quiet moment taking in some of the best collectible books Tokyo has to offer.

World Antiquarian Book Plaza is open every day (except January 1) from 10:00 – 20:00.


• THURSDAY 23 APRIL - 10 am to 8 pm

World Antiquarian Book Plaza
Nihonbashi 2-3-10, Chuo-ku
Tokyo 103-8245


• Originally published on the AbeBooks book blog, presented here by permission of the author. Pictures: the author.


Antwerp, Bibliotheek Permeke, 23 April 2015 - A review in pictures

Bibliotheek Permeke in Antwerp (Belgium) is an inspirational place. Built 10 years ago right in the middle of a deprived part of the city it was a farsighted first step in the city’s endeavour to clear the slums and improve the lives of its people. Now, a decade later, every day thousands of readers visit the library - ideally by bike - to borrow books, use the internet, to read and get information and drink coffee in the glass pub. Bibliotheek Permeke is a symbol that books change lives and that the power of reading is vital and essential.

On April 23 Erik Tonen and Peter Everaers met the library visitors in the foyer, raised funds for the UNESCO literacy projects in South Sudan and showed rare and fine books to the readers they would otherwise very likely never have seen.

More pictures:


Chicago, 23 April 2015 - A review in pictures

Who knows? Maybe Frank Lloyd Wright and Carl Sandburg already had drinks at the elegant premises of the Cliff Dwellers Club. On 23 April the Club high above Chicago and overlooking Lake Michigan was a busy place filled with Chicago's antiquarian booksellers, Cliff Dwellers, Caxton Club members and numerous booklovers who had climbed to the 22nd floor of the skyscraper to enjoy books and bookish talks, to have a drink and to donate money to help UNESCO support literacy in South Sudan.

Pictures courtesy of Kurt Gippert:

Chris Rohe, Kurt Gippert

Brad Jonas, Garrett Scott

Sylvia Castle

David Mesnard, Garrett Scott, Susan Hirsch

Garrett Scott

Jan  Lawrence Van de Carr Bookleger's

Jeff Jahns

Paul Garon, Kurt Gippert

Sammy Berk

Virginia Harding, Kurt Gippert, Susan Hanes

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands - More impressions from the ILAB Pop Up Book Fair in Haarlem

The Dutch dealers are amazing, their events on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day clearly belong to the highlights of 23 April 2015. The ILAB Pop Up Book Fair at Haarlem Station, waiting room at perron 3a, was organized by Antiquariaat A.G. van der Steur, Veilinghuis Bubb Kuyper and Antiquariaat De Vries en De Vries. They wrote to us:

"Lots of train travellers found it a lovely surprise to be able to visit a pop up book market just before entering their trains. Unfortunately no delayed trains (unusual for The Netherlands) so mostly short visits with enthusiastic people. The free book and print valuation was a great success. People had to stand in a line to wait for their turn. Many people liked to donate ..."

Thank you very much to the Dutch dealers at Haarlem and especially to Arine van der Lely-van der Steur for sending the lovely pictures.

Some days later - More ILAB Pop Up pictures coming in, and a wonderful video from Amsterdam

It's Monday 27, and we are still receiving pictures from the ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs worldwide, there are still tweets and posts in social media and press mentions, for example in Sweden or Cape Town or such exotic places as the Philippines, also on Book Patrol, Flavorwire and Fine Books and Collections. A list with press links will be on the blog in the course of this week.

The Guardian published a great article about the ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs and created an extra site where visitors could upload their pictures. A wonderful pictorial review of what was going on on 23 April.

And here is something special: a video of the Dutch booksellers and their floating Pop Up Book Fair in Amsterdam.



Good Morning from Germany, Good Night to Seattle – Pictures from the ILAB Pop Up Book Fair 2015, at Seattle’s Sorrento Hotel

Finally, after 23 joyful hours of blogging the day, I had been falling asleep for a moment. So please excuse that the pictures from the ILAB Pop Up Book Fair in Seattle, taking place from 4 to 8 pm, local time, at the Sorrento Hotel, are posted with a short delay.

The ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs have been “a huge success”, Sheppard’s confidential writes in its last night issue (thank you Richard), the fairs had a great media coverage with an excellent article – and a picture gallery – in The Guardian, to mention only one of many mentions worldwide, and an abundance of posts and tweets in the social media. 

Back to Seattle’s Sorrento Hotel, home to artists, intellectuals and business travelers. ABAA/ILAB booksellers Boris Bruton, Taylor Bowie, John Lang, Ed Smith and Priscilla Anne Lowry presented a wonderful array of antiquarian books, maps, prints, and ephemera, and they continued the work of their colleagues around the world filling Empty Bookcase posters with “symbolic book spines” to raise money for UNESCO and the school children in South Sudan. (By the way, if you had not the chance to visit an ILAB Pop Up Fair and wish to show your support, go to the UNESCO website and click the “donate” button.)

A while ago, Ed Smith wrote: “We don't have to tell you how great Seattle is, or its environs, we just might mention the home of the Seahawks and Mariners, Microsoft, Boeing, an historically great music scene – where Jimi Hendrix was born and Ray Charles played his first piano lines -, The Seattle Aquarium, University of Washington, The Space Needle, the Great Wheel at Colman Dock, Starbucks, the EMP Museum, The Seattle Art Museum, the Tate Museum, Bill Gate's house …”

Now we may add: Seattle is also the home of the final event of an amazing and exciting series of ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs across the world on 23 April 2015. See the pictures:

By Barbara van Benthem, ILAB Web Editor