History of the Book Trade

De Boekenkrant, 1939.

Booktraders catalogue

This collection domain relates to the history of books. This concerns 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 has more than 5 km of shelf space. The collections relating to the history of books are regularly added to with the purchase of primary and secondary works and by the acquisition of collections and archives.


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

The collections are meaningful to research into subjects relating to the history of books 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 booktrade catalogues

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

  • Archive of the firma Luchtmans

  • Archive of the Amsterdams boekverkopersgilde

  • Archive of the firma Suringar

  • Archive of the firma Kruseman

  • Archive of the uitgeverij Contact

  • Archive of the uitgeverij Becht

  • Archive of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers


Published by  Bijzondere Collecties UvA

5 March 2013