Code of EthicsThe Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America was founded in 1949 to encourage and promote interest in and appreciation of antiquarian books and other printed materials, prints, and manuscripts; to establish and maintain professional and ethical standards; and to foster friendly relations among both the membership and the bookselling community at large.
The privilege of membership in the Association and the display of its logo carry with them the responsibility for adherence to the Association's Code of Ethics as follows:
1. An Association member shall maintain and further the objectives of the Association. Association members shall operate their businesses in accordance with local, state and federal laws. Association members are expected to exercise common sense and courtesy in dealing with each other and the general public. Members must share in the responsibility of furthering mutual trust and respect between the trade and the public by conducting their businesses with fairness and integrity.
2. An Association member shall be responsible for the understanding and use of the specific terminology of the trade.
3. An Association member shall be responsible for the accurate description of all material offered for sale. All significant defects, restorations, and sophistications should be clearly noted and made known to those to whom the material is offered or sold. Unless both parties agree otherwise, a full cash refund shall be made available to the purchaser of any misrepresented material.
4. (a) An Association member shall be responsible for the passing to the buyer clear title to all material sold and not knowingly purchase, hold, or attempt to resell stolen materials. An Association member shall make all reasonable efforts to ascertain that materials offered to him or her are the property of the seller.
(b) An Association member shall make every effort to prevent the theft or distribution of stolen antiquarian books and related materials. An Association member shall cooperate with law enforcement authorities and the Association's Board of Governors in the effort to recover and return stolen materials, and apprehend and prosecute those responsible for the theft, including, but not limited to, providing the names of persons involved.
(c) The ABAA endorses the principles embodied in national and international copyright laws. An Association member shall not knowingly violate copyright laws by selling, trading, distributing, or creating unlawfully produced copies of works currently protected by copyright, without the written, oral, or implied consent of the copyright owner.
5. An Association member shall vouch for the authenticity of all materials offered for sale, and shall make every reasonable effort to establish their true nature. Should it be determined that material offered as authentic is not authentic or is questionable, that material shall be returnable for a full cash refund or other mutually agreeable arrangement. Material proven to be not authentic, or of disputed or undetermined nature, shall not again be offered for sale unless all facts concerning it are disclosed in writing.
6. Terms and conditions of sale shall be clearly and explicitly stated in all catalogues and offers, and it shall be made clear at the time of offer whether or not material is offered subject to prior sale. An Association member should pay in full for all material purchased within 30 days from date of invoice unless other arrangements are made. Terms of sale should be clearly defined between seller and buyer at the time of sale and payment should be made in accordance with these terms. However, these terms are not immutable and may be renegotiated by mutual consent.
7. Responsibility for damage in transit shall rest with the sender unless otherwise stipulated. Association members shall see to the careful and appropriate handling, packing, and shipping of material in order to insure that it arrives in the same condition as when purchased. The cost of returning material incorrectly described shall be the responsibility of the seller.
8. An Association member should permit any other Association member in good standing to buy from his or her inventory any material offered for sale (i.e., priced), and to extend to that Association member a reciprocal trade discount.
9. An Association member should have all material offered for sale clearly marked with the selling price. Material not for sale or in the process of being catalogued should be appropriately segregated.
10. An Association member offering appraisal services shall be responsible for knowing current appraisal regulations as stipulated by the Internal Revenue Service. An Association member shall conduct such appraisals in strict compliance with these regulations.
11. An Association member shall neither approach nor solicit customers in any other bookseller's shop, book fair booth, or place of business without the introduction or consent of the proprietor.
12. An Association member shall know the Association's Rules and Guidelines and abide by them. An Association member shall be responsible for employees and associates abiding by the Association's Rules and Guidelines.
It is essential for the reputation of the Association that complaints or disputes involving Association members be resolved in a manner befitting the objectives of the Association. Claims against Association members, or disputes among members, should be made in writing to the Chairperson of the Ethics and Standards Committee. Association members shall abide by the decisions of the Board of Governors. Violation of any Association Rule or Guideline may be grounds for fine, censure, suspension, or expulsion from the Association.
As the oldest association of professional antiquarian booksellers in America, we have a reputation to uphold and we require our members to follow the Code of Ethics.
Membership in the ABAA cannot be obtained simply by paying a fee or signing an agreement. Before being considered for membership, booksellers must prove that they are established, knowledgeable, and of excellent reputation. Prospective members must be sponsored by current members, and undergo a rigorous screening process. The average ABAA member has been in the antiquarian book business more than twenty years.
It is essential for the reputation of the Association that complaints or disputes involving Association members be resolved in a manner befitting the objectives of the Association. Claims against Association members, or disputes among members, should be made in writing with the Ethics Complaint Form
and sent to the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee, at:
Chairperson, Ethics Committee
20 West 44th Street, #507
New York, NY 10036-6604