History of the Book Trade

De Boekenkrant, 1939.

Booktraders’ catalogue

This collection domain relates to the history of books. It covers books as physical objects as well as the history of the book trade: the production, distribution and consumption of books. The emphasis lies on the Netherlands and on the period after 1800.

The collection of the University Library of Amsterdam includes many tens of thousands of books and publications documenting the development of the book from classical antiquity up to and including the digital era. In addition, the University Library owns a large collection of secondary literature in the field of book studies. Finally, the Special Collections manage the archives and collections relating to the history of the book trade. The history of book production also includes the history of graphic techniques.

The fact that the University Library has such an exceptional collection in this field is due partly to the loan from the Bibliotheek van het Boekenvak (Library of the Book Trade), which has been under the umbrella of the Special Collections since 1958. This specialist library was founded in 1845 by the Vereeniging ter bevordering van de belangen des Boekhandels (Association for the Promotion of Booksellers’ Interests) and covers more than 5 km of shelf space. The collections relating to the history of books are regularly expanded with the purchase of primary and secondary works and by the acquisition of collections and archives.


This collection domain is closely interwoven with the Graphic Design and Typography collection domain. The collections in these fields are among the largest and oldest in the world, and the concentration of archives from organisations in the book sector is unique.

The collections provide an important resource for research into subjects relating to the history of the book and cultural history and to the history of the book industry. There is close collaboration with the Stichting Bibliotheek van het Boekenvak (Library of the Book Trade Foundation), Museum Enschedé in Haarlem and the research group for Book and Manuscript Studies. Agreements have been made with the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (the National Library of the Netherlands) upon the demarcation of the bookhistorical collections of both institutions.

Collection profile

  • Books, journals and magazines in the field of the history of books

  • Archives of publishers, printers, book-binders, bookshops, auctioneers and antiquarian bookshops
  • Bookshop catalogues, including auction catalogues, antiquarian catalogues and publishers’ catalogue lists
  • Archives of trade organisations such as the KVB, the NBB, the CPNB and the KNUB
  • Documentation on companies that operate in the book industry, including collection prospectuses and personal columns and research apparatus on book history

Important collections

  • Bibliotheek van het Boekenvak

  • Collection of booktrade catalogues

  • Archive of the Vereeniging ter bevordering van de belangen des Boekhandels (KVB)

  • Archive of the firm Luchtmans

  • Archive of the Amsterdams boekverkopersgilde

  • Archive of the firm Suringar

  • Archive of the firm Kruseman

  • Archive of the publishing house Contact

  • Archive of the publishing house Becht

  • Archive of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers


Published by  Special Collections UvA

22 August 2014