Max Hasler: Forum Auctions
“I would love to see the book world become more accessible to new buyers – people don’t realise that rare books can be really quite affordable and cater to all sorts of interests.”
Max Hasler, 31, read English literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. After graduating in 2007, he sent his CV to Bloomsbury Auctions and got lucky. “I heard straight back. They were looking for an intern to help in the book department. I started there the next week.”
For Hasler the trade was something he had grown up with. “My mother used to be a book dealer so I grew up around rare books and always found them fascinating. I knew I wanted to work with books in some capacity although I didn’t necessarily know what.”
Hasler has found the trade welcoming, arguing its relatively small size helps. “People are quick to recognise and encourage new faces. There used to be a concern about the lack of young people in the book world but there are a lot of us around now.”
At Forum Auctions, where he has specialised in modern literature and manuscripts since the business launched in 2016, he is actively trying to attract new customers and the internet is certainly helping. “The image of the trade has changed dramatically already with the advent of the internet and online marketplaces,” he says.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of great collections and unusual objects, such as George Orwell’s bloodied scarf and Evelyn Waugh’s ear trumpet. But for me the highlight so far has been this first year at Forum – helping build up a company from virtually nothing has been an incredible experience.
I have just started building a collection focused on horror and gothic. It’s a large area with fascinating books at all prices.
Lyndsey Ingram: Print dealer
Starting your own business is daunting but print dealer Lyndsey Ingram, 38, decided to take the plunge in April last year.
She had worked with London dealership Sims Reed for more than a dozen years from 2003. “I loved working [there], but I got to a place where I realised I had to either leave and do my own thing, or stay there forever,” she explains. “So, I decided it was time to go.”
She raised money privately to launch the business and trades simply under her own name.
Ingram believes the trade “welcomes anyone who is prepared to work hard”. She says her own career path was sealed after her first art history class at high school. A course in art history at college in the US, focusing on Italian Renaissance architecture, was followed by a summer internship. A full-time position in Sotheby’s print department in London beckoned and Ingram’s career was launched.
I think the Hockney etching show that we did earlier this year has been the highlight so far. It was such a joy to do, from start to finish. I love Hockney prints, especially his early work. I loved working with Hazlitt’s (the show’s co-organiser) and I am very proud of the catalogue that accompanied the show.
I collect prints – not surprisingly. Mostly contemporary prints, but some older ones as well.
Ines Bellin: Director of INK Fair London
Ines Bellin, director of the boutique book show INK Fair London launched with Leo Cadogan last year, said she simply “stumbled into the book trade”.
The 61-year-old studied IT in her hometown of Pforzheim in Germany and caught the book trade bug after watching an auctioneer dealing with clients in Baden-Baden. “I said to him: ‘I don’t know what you’re doing but whatever it is I want to learn’,” she says.
She started dealing while travelling Europe and took on other jobs on the side. “You have to start small, keep an eye out for things and sometimes share stock. I never put all my cash into books when I couldn’t afford it.”
The book trade is still predominantly male but Bellin notes a number of initiatives have been launched to get women more involved. “Any young person with talent has a chance to work in the industry. I’ve met many of these young bright minds and have seen them become amazing dealers.”
She says INK (the next on October 25-27) has a different approach to many other book fairs because it includes photography, print and art and has a ‘Fresh Faces’ initiative to encourage young and new dealers to exhibit. The fair targets collectors below the age of 35.
Around five years ago I spotted a tiny late 13th century German Mären manuscript, a booklet with three Middle High German stories written on parchment. We avoided a premature sale and helped to bring it into the collection of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz.
I collect only moments and memories. The less I own, the less I need. It’s a very liberating state of mind.