Why do people buy ancient books ? Céline Gladkowski, co-founder of Essentiam reveals her passion and her tricks in this gilt-edged interview.
If some people say about their books that "it is quite a good work", Céline Gladkowski would say about hers "it is a monument, a testimony of History, a treasure". Ancient books are her favorite, always looking for pieces to complete her collection with her partner. A collection that brought them to create Essentiam. More than a bookshop, it is a community for informed or new enthusiasts.
Céline's big jump : from IT to rare books
In the early 2000's, Céline is a graphic designer very far from the ancient books world, but knows about the printing and binding techniques through her job. "I liked two things : my job as a graphic designer and History. There was for sure a triggering event that brought me closer to the ancient books world".
Her partner decides to restore his father's ancient books library. As he goes very often to Drouot, he acquires books from the XVIIth and the XVIIIth century.
Little by little, Céline Gladkowski gets familiar with ancient books and the shelves start to fill up. She develops skills for the preservation of these century-old objects that need to be taken care of.
Essentiam : what is it ?
"Around 2007, we gathered too many books, then we decided to open a bookshop in Paris".
This bookshop is Essentiam, a Latin-sounding name that reminds us of the word "essential".
Without leaving their respective jobs , Céline and her partner go one step further into the ancient book world. "With this bookshop, we have been discovering again other facets of ancient books, then we wanted to leave Paris to open a house dedicated to teaching preservation".
If Essentiam is hard to define, it is because it is born from a passion that never stops growing up. Next chapter ? A bigger house to welcome all these books, and all the fans. More than a place to pass through, Céline Gladkowski is looking for a place to share things.
« With Internet, we dust off ancient books »
Digital is no longer a secret to Céline Gladkowski : "I love internet, it is a wonderful tool that allows us to share and to make ancient books more visible".
If originally Essentiam was a sharing blog about the ancient books universe, today it is an online shop. "When a young person buys a book and makes a nod to us on the social medias it is quite encouraging. The oldest ones find it to be a brilliant tool and regret there was no internet at the time".
"With Internet, we can dust off ancient books », says Céline who has succeeded in introducing this speciality to a new public.
Céline's must have
If some people are more interested in the subject of the book, Céline Gladkowski is more concerned about the object itself.
A XVIth century Levant, an engraved book cover, a special typography… as many details that tell books' History. For the collector, these objects are "testimonies that carry all the characteristics of their time". On these shelves, the XVIIth and XVIIIth century book covers have a prominent place, even if we can also find XIXth century books or incunabula.
"To me, an ancient book is like a castle, it is a monument, it is an heritage"
The ancient book specialist’s advice
For Céline, a collection starts with a feeling : "It is easier to take an interest in a book with a subject that fascinates us, it is a good approach of the ancient book". Second-hand shops, auctions sales, ancient bookshops and internet are overflowing with books.
Céline's final advice : "keep your books on a shelf away from humidity and light, dust them off and entrust their restoration to professionals, exclude Scotch and glue !".
Books on Bidtween : here