A Brief Orientation.


I have always been fascinated by books, first as a reader, of course, then as a collector, then as a binder and restorer, then as a bookseller, and finally, later in life, as a writer. I established W. S. Cotter Rare Books following a decade working as a bookbinder, book and paper restorer, and maker of prop books for the film industry. I grew  interested in early manuscripts and printed books because these were what my first restoration clients traded in, and I have since come to love the books of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. I  put out the occasional catalogue, but more specifically I like to work as a scout, assisting collectors and institutional libraries fill lacunae in already comprehensive collections. A day does not pass when I have not learned something important and new about early books, and not an hour goes by when I am not dumbfounded by the feel of an old book in my hands. When I am not reading and cataloguing old books, I am writing new ones. I have published five novels since 2009, as well as numerous short stories and essays. A short piece on the development of a collection, titled The Gentleman's Library, won a Pushcart Prize in 2013. I am also at work on an utterly unfinishable project, a descriptive bibliography of books written in prison up to 1700.

I am a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Assocation of America, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, and the Grolier Club.

William S. Cotter