Our History

The idea of bookseller Gerry Mosdell was to take books out to the people with “Book Fairs”. The first event was held in the Hotel Eden in Kensington in 1972.

“Taking the books to the people”

The Fairs expanded rapidly and after the first York Book Fair in October 1974 the Provincial Booksellers’ Fairs Association or PBFA was founded.

Our fairs now cover the length and breadth of the country. Our members display a wide variety of books both second-hand and antiquarian and often with prints, maps and ephemera. Our Code of Practice ensures all items are correctly described and fairly priced.

The PBFA has also supported a number of awards and exhibitions. Those include the Appeal to save the Opie Collection of Children’s Literature for the Bodleian Library.

The Association continues to show resilience and initiative in challenging times. Our new website, using the latest technology, helps us to keep in touch with a modern world.

PBFA Activities

Community
The PBFA’s association with Listening Books began when one of our member’s started to lose his sight. It made him think what it would be like to be unable to read a book.

Listening Books is a charity which provides a high quality audiobook library service to anyone who struggles to read in the usual way due to an illness, disability or learning difficulty.

Stephen Fry, Listening Books patron, says “Listening Books distributes pure undiluted pleasure and friendship". Not many schemes can make such a claim.

The PBFA adopted Listening Books as their designated Charity and we now have collecting boxes at most of our Book Fairs.

The PBFA posters now have not only their cat symbol on them but also the Listening Books owl symbol.

Further information can be found at Listening Books
Educational
Learn about the Antiquarian Book Trade from some of the best booksellers in the country. The York Antiquarian Book Seminar (YABS) provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise with booksellers, librarians and collectors.

Basic procedures and problems are discussed through a series of lectures, discussions, demonstrations and workshops.

The Seminar is designed for people of all levels and skills from beginners to those with years of experience.

The PBFA is proud to support this 3 day Seminar in September by sponsoring a free place.

For more information visit York Antiquarian Book Seminar
Commercial
TL Dallas is one of the UK’s leading independent Insurance Broking and Risk Management groups. They have been in business since 1919.

“Books and Collectibles” is a specifically designed policy for this specialist area and is approved by the PBFA.

For further information, or to discuss your insurance requirements please contact Jade Danby, or telephone: 0207 426 5346 or visit their website: TL Dallas.

Cover to Cover, unique insurance for Booksellers, Bookbinders, Framers. Comprehensive policies tailored around the needs of you and your business.

They are approved by the PBFA so do contact them with you needs.

For more information visit Cover to Cover, email Books at Playle Russell or telephone 01794 830055.
Book Sites
Sheppard’s Confidential is a site about antiquarian and second hand books, ephemera, prints and maps.

It is published every Friday with news, articles and facts about the trade from around the world.

There are links to Publications, Catalogues, Trade Supplies and Book Wants.

Issues include reviews of forthcoming auctions and book fairs. Also reports on past auctions and major book fairs. To register contact: Sheppards World.

TheBookGuide - your guide to sources of secondhand and antiquarian books in the UK. A website to find Book Fairs around the UK, to find a list of bookbinders, auctions and bookshops. For more information visit The BookGuide.
Book Associations / Societies
The Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA), founded in 1906, is the oldest organisation of its kind in the world. Members of the Association deal in antiquarian and rare books, manuscripts and allied materials. For more information visit The Antiquarian Book Association.

The Ephemera Society was established in 1975, the Society is today internationally recognised as the authority in the field of ephemera, counting among its members libraries, museums, colleges and universities, as well as ephemera dealers and private individuals in twenty countries. For more information visit The Ephemera Society.

Joining the PBFA

1
Membership for Booksellers
If you are a seller of antiquarian and/or secondhand books, you may wish to think about joining the PBFA. You may be a full time or part time bookseller, with a minimum, verifiable trading history of at least two years. These two years should have given you:

Knowledge of the terminology used in the trade, the necessary skills for identifying the condition of books that you buy or sell, a commitment to high professional standards, and a thorough understanding of the ethics and etiquette of the trade.

You will be asked to provide the names of a proposer and seconder who are current members of the PBFA and who have been full members for at least four years. This is normal procedure for most professional organisations.
2
Affiliated Membership
Affiliated Membership is open to bookbinders, conservators, fine press publishers, packaging suppliers and others who supply the book trade. The annual subscription is 50% of that paid by our members who are booksellers. Those applying for Affiliated Membership should go through the usual joining procedure, with a Proposer and Seconder. Affiliated Members may book spaces at fairs and those bookings will be processed as soon as the main booking process is completed. Affiliated Members will be included in any Directories and represented on the Association’s website. (Note: Membership does not in any way guarantee space at any of the Association’s fairs). Affiliated Members shall not be entitled to voting rights at meetings

Benefits of joining the PBFA

Membership of the PBFA is open to anyone who has been trading in antiquarian and second-hand books for a minimum of two years subject to certain criteria. They must be proposed and seconded by established members of the Association. We are pleased to announce that Membership is now also open to Fine Press Publishers, Bookbinders and others who supply goods or services to the book trade.
Benefit 1
Listings in our members' directors and fair catalogues.
Benefit 2
You are able to add PBFA after members' trading names.
Benefit 3
Can exhibit at any of the 60 plus fairs held by the PBFA throughout a calendar year.
Benefit 4
You can showcase your best books on the PBFA website.
Benefit 5
Parcelforce contracts for UK, European and Worldwide services.
Benefit 6
Take advantage of our bespoke booksellers' insurance for stock and third party cover.

How to apply

If you have been trading for two years and can provide the names of two existing Full Members of the PBFA who know you, have traded with you for at least two years, and are willing to propose and second your application, then email Jill Shipley or call 01763 248400 and she will send you an application form and information pack.

Applying for membership does not guarantee acceptance.
1
Full Membership Subscription
£180.00 inc VAT
2
Affiliated Annual Membership
£90.00 inc VAT
3
Overseas Membership
£150.00 excl VAT

Code of Practice

The PBFA code applies to all members in whatever form they are trading; to ensure that all transactions are conducted to high professional standards. Whilst not attempting to dictate to members how they conduct their business, all members, whether exhibiting at the Association’s fairs or not, are expected to trade in an honourable and generally accepted manner. Malpractice is encompassed in the agreement, signed by all members on acceptance into the Association, that they will not “bring the trade or the Association into disrepute”.

Bookselling is largely a matter of trust - trust that the books are complete and in good condition and trust that the transaction will be promptly completed. Trust facilitates our business. To this end therefore we ask that members observe the following:-

COLLATION
Members should ensure that all their books are complete and if not that any fault is clearly stated in the book in question, and in any other related written or verbal description thereof.

PAYMENT
Payment for books should be prompt. The tradition among booksellers has always been to pay by return of post, or at point of sale. A good tradition and one that PBFA members are encouraged to adopt. Prompt payment promotes good relations.

DESCRIPTION
In catalogues, websites, quotations and offers for sale always describe books accurately and arrange the description in clear blocks e.g. Author, Title, Date, Contents, Binding, Condition - this is a commonly used sequence.

The terms Mint, Fine, VG, Good, Reading Copy, and Poor should be used. The only one of these whose definition is unarguable is Mint - without blemish as published. From there downwards the grades are increasingly subjective but a book which has corners bumped, inner hinge cracked and text annotated can never be, for example, VG. even “for its age”.

The more expensive the book the more important it is to check it with an authoritative bibliography. Such references should be available with the book.

MISTAKES
Mistakes do happen and should a book be found by the purchaser to be defective or not as described, and the faults are drawn to the seller's attention within a reasonable time, then the seller should, if asked so to do, take back the book and refund the purchase price at no additional cost to the purchaser. It is courteous to contact the seller immediately with the information that the book is being returned and for what reason.

Friends of the PBFA

For £10 get free access to our fairs, updates from the PBFA and much more.

Join PBFA

Membership of the PBFA is open to anyone who has been trading in antiquarian and second-hand books for a minimum of two years subject to certain criteria.
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