March 11, 2019 / Maria Cocalea

From Berlin's 032c first edition to Céline’s Phoebe Philo Visual imagery book and COMME des GARÇONS from 1985, they all found home in a Parisian aparment, all collected by the man behind RareBooksParis. With a beautiful passion for rare books, first editions and well hidden gems, he decided to share them with the world via Instagram. RarebooksParis is introducing people to books that they wouldn't have had the chance to easily come across otherwise, this is probably on of the reason they sell out as soon as they come online.

So what goes on behind the closed doors of this utterly detailed online bookstore and how did it all start?

The man behind RareBooksParis

So first off, tell us more about the mind/minds behind RareBooksParis.
Well that's quite a simple answer as there is only on person behind RareBooksParis. I don't really like to speak about myself, firstly because I like the anonymity of operating this way. Also I really wanted the focus to be on the books and not the person behind it so I can't give much more away than that. I can tell you I am a fashion designer by trade and have been based in Paris for 15 years. There is no physical store, nor do we take appointments. We sell our books on a first come first serve basis and the collection is in constant evolution. I never wanted it to be something predictable or easy to pigeonhole and it's a very personal selection. It's simply about what resonates with me at a particular time.

The sheer volume of collected works is pretty staggering. What inspired this project and when did it all start?
I can't tell you the exact date to be honest, but from memory it was in 2013 sometime. Nothing really inspired the project, there was no master plan. I simply decided to start selling books and there was a very positive response almost immediately. In a world becoming more and more homogenised, people like the idea that they are discovering something special. Most of the publications we sell are hard to find, or out of print or were only ever produced in small print runs, or artist signed copie etc. As for the volume yes it's pretty staggering but luckily I have a large apartment. (laughs)

How big is the collection at the moment?
Hmmmm I couldn't say, never counted.

What is the process of sourcing your books? Do you look for specific ones or just find gems in a pile of many books?
The process of sourcing is very time consuming but as any good collector will tell you it's an obsession. When I'm looking for books it's like a kind of meditation, I never set out with a shopping list as such. That's the joy of my job, being open to new things, conversations, meetings they all lead you on new and exciting directions. The search has taken me far and wide and resulted in some pretty amazing connections. Obviously because of my background as a designer there is a slant towards fashion based imagery, but that was only natural as I had many friends here in Paris in the industry that wanted to sell me the things they no longer wanted.

What is the most treasured book in the collection?
Impossible to say

Did you come across any rare books that you fell in love with and decided to keep or is it all business and everything sells?
Of course I'm falling in love with books all the time, that's what keeps me going. But it's a very unselfish process, when I discover something special for the first time I can't wait to get online and share it with people.  Sometimes I will keep it at home for a few days before posting as I know that the minute it's shared with the public it will sell quickly thereafter. Most books we sell are sold within the hour of posting. That's the hard part having to reply to people with the disappointing news that it's no longer available.

What are your thoughts on online magazines and publications and the fact that people seem to prefer scrolling online rather than sitting down with a book they bought?
I don't really read online publications to be perfectly honest. I'm of a generation that loves print and I'm a firm believer that there will always be an audience for it. Online can be a very important visual tool for sharing images of course and that's why it well adapted to selling books.

What are your plans for this new year? A physical bookstore coming any time in the future?
For this year there are a lot of exciting projects on the horizon. We are working on the first rarebooksparis publication so we are moving into publishing, I can't say much about it apart that it is a limited edition box set consisting of several volumes will be in a very small quantity but the content is amazing. We will start shooting soon and it will probably be ready for debut 2020.

We have also been invited as guests to participate in the upcoming LAABF (LA Art Book Fair). We are collaborating for this project with Parisian gallery The Community and are in the process of making our selection. Don't want to give too much away but it will be a tightly curated selection of some of fashions rarest publications and will give us the chance to share these gems with our American audience which is very important.

As for a physical bookstore, no plans. The freedom we have and our tightly held anonymity are too precious.