CLS: The club has 2 main focal points: educational (including exhibits), and being a fellowship of collectors. I also should mention our Research Library here, which is a tremendous resource.
AT: How many members are there at present?
CLS: About 700.
AT: Is there a formal or informal cap on membership, on the number of members you’d rather not exceed?
CLS: I believe that it’s about 750. Approximately.
AT: What are The Grolier Club’s goals for the near or distant future?
CLS: The biggest challenge in the works is that we’re trying to put everything online. Fernando Peña , The Grolier Club Research Library’s Curator, would be the person chiefly involved with this initiative. And The Grolier Club is continuing its educational outreach, trying to make more people from schoolchildren to adults interested in book history and book collecting.
One thing I’d like to emphasize is that many people start out collecting inexpensively, on a small scale. Learning about what you’re collecting can be a lot of fun, and our Library and resources can help. Research is great fun and you learn a lot doing it.
AT: To change tunes a bit, can you address how you feel the internet has effected the book business and book collecting?
CLS: Certainly. I think that the saddest change that has occurred since the advent of the internet is that there are not as many bookstores to browse in to find unusual items. While on the one hand the internet makes communication, especially with book dealers, much easier and more efficient, on the other hand it has taken away from some of the tactile experience that I think many book collectors relish. Book collectors like to pick up material, feel it, smell it. That aspect can’t be captured on the internet.
AT: Have you bought items on the internet?
CLS: Yes, I have. Although I depend on my relationships with dealers primarily, as I think that the collector-dealer relationship is crucial. Good rare book dealers are very knowledgeable and helpful. I myself rely on 2 or 3 dealers primarily. They are people with whom I’ve built up a trust or a bond over the years.