Introduction by Terry Belanger
On Monday, 15 December 1986, Bernard M. Rosenthal, proprietor of the San Francisco antiquarian bookselling firm which bears his name, delivered the second Sol M. Malkin Lecture in Bibliography at the Columbia University School of Library Service, on "The gentle invasion: continental emigré booksellers of the thirties and forties and their impact on the antiquarian booktrade in the United States."
The large audience at this lecture included many persons who were born after - and sometimes considerably after - the events leading up to the Gentle invasion which was the subject of the lecture. Mr. Rosenthal was able to convey to this part of the audience a sense of what it was like to be a bookseller in Germany or Austria in the 30s: "I still remember," he said, "that day when, by the order of the new Nazi rulers, two huge swastika banners were draped over the façade of my grandfather Jacques Rosenthal's patrician house in Munich, and the crudely-lettered word 'Jude' was painted near the entrance of the book store."
The audience also included a number of the booksellers (or their children and relatives) who were themselves the subject of Rosenthal's talk. It was thus an intensely moving occasion, one that I think few of those attending will forget.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Rosenthal said that he hoped that his lecture would be a fitting memorial to Sol Malkin, "the foremost chronicler of the antiquarian book trade in America during its formative years, a man without whose devotion and involvement our world would have been far, far duller," and he added that "those of us whose careers, especially those whose early careers, coincided with Sol's active years as editor of the AB, owe him an immense debt of gratitude." Mr. Rosenthal's lecture was, indeed, a fitting memorial to Sol Malkin, and we are all in his debt.
Sol Malkin entered the book trade in 1922 as an apprentice of the antiquarian book scout and bookseller, I. R. Brussel. "My pay was either $5 a week in cash or $10 a week in books," Malkin remembered. "I wish now that I had eaten less and taken the books more often." A Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year at New York University, Malkin did advanced study in England and Germany in mathematics and philosophy. He went on to gain experience in almost every respect of the book trade as book scout, dealer, and publisher. Bookman's Weekly made its debut in 1948 under Malkin's editorship as the Antiquarian Bookman. It was published by R. R. Bowker Company as a spin-off of "the back half" of Publisher's Weekly; it included dealers' lists of books wanted and a few single copies of books for sale from anyone. The front-matter of Antiquarian Bookman consisted of trade news of interest to dealers, collectors, and librarians, and included a column written by Jacob Blanck providing news, musings and gossip about the antiquarian book world.
The journal quickly became a prime source for timely news, book reviews, and coverage of trade and library conventions. It attracted a large subscription list of dealers, both those especially concerned with selling used books and those primarily engaged in the sale of new books but who ran an OP search service for their customers.
Malkin purchased the magazine from Bowker in 1953; its name was changed to AB Bookman's Weekly in 1967. Malkin and his wife, Mary Ann Q'Brian Malkin, continued to edit the weekly until 1972, when they sold it to its present editor and publisher, Jacob L. Chernofsky.
In 1973, the Malkins were jointly awarded the Clarence Day Award of the American Library Association. This award is annually made to a librarian or other individual for outstanding work in encouraging the love of books and reading. The Malkins were the first non-librarians to receive this honor.
In aIl, Malkin spent more than half a century in the book trade, taking time off only for World War II (plus one year for raising the first black Afghan hound champion of the world).
"For the past 50-odd years," he wrote in the mid 1970s, "we have been unashamedly in love with bookselling and booksellers. For the past 50-odd years we have deliberately tried to enter, participate, and make a reasonable living in every part of the book world: as clerk and manager, bookseller and wholesaler, publisher and reprinter, designer and production director, paper and printing salesman, book importer and exporter, runner and scout, catalogue and mail-order specialist, translator, editor and author, bookkeeper and collector, appraiser and auctioneer."
Malkin's goal was always "to get the right book to the right party at the right time at the right price." He was, as Mary Ann Q'Brian Malkin has said, "a one-man publicity campaign in the world of books." We are pleased to be able to sponsor this, the second lecture in his honor and memory.