A love of books: this phrase, both simple and complex, describes Abby Schoolman and her career.
“I had the great luck to have grown up in a house full of readers with a very wide range of interests: art from ancient Egypt to Red Grooms, mystery novels, poetry, world religions, American history. My parents were always willing to take me and my sister to the library and to bookstores. I remember that when I was about 12 or 13, I told my sister I wanted to run a bookstore when I grew up.”
Abby received a degree in Medieval/Renaissance Studies at Wellesley College; while earning her Master of Library Science Degree from Simmons College, she trained as an archivist and rare book librarian. “The thread connecting my academic choices was an interest in the history of the book. I learned about everything from Books of Hours to the Kelmscott Press.”
It was this love of rare books that led her to join the staff of Bauman Rare Books, the largest rare book dealer in the United States, in 2000. There, Abby worked with “five centuries of the most interesting and beautiful books in almost every field of human thought. It was heaven. The only type of book I rarely encountered was the type I work with now.”
Abby first chanced upon the type of books she works with now at the American Museum of Natural History, where she came across an exhibit of contemporary bindings of books on angling and became hooked on modern art bookbindings. “For the first time in my life, I bought an exhibition catalog. Little did I know that buying books and catalogs of contemporary bookbinding exhibits from the mid-20th century to the present would become my obsession.”
In 2013 Abby started the blog American Bound, about contemporary art bookbinding in the Americas. Abby Schoolman Books opened in 2014, focusing on limited edition artist’s books, fine press books, unique contemporary art bookbindings, association copies, and artist’s books of exceptional creativity and quality.
In 2016, Abby published Timothy C. Ely: 8 Books. Originally conceived of as a bookseller’s catalogue, TCE8 became an exploration of the creation of eight unique, single-copy books by Ely.
“I like to represent and promote the complete artist,” Abby notes. “The artists I work with directly are encouraged to make what they want, in whatever format or medium they choose, regardless of what has sold in the past. The freedom to choose, and freedom from the constraints of commissions, competitions and juried exhibitions, allows the artists breathing space. The result is better art.”
Books can be viewed by appointment. Contact us for details.