2024 Specialty Dealer: Alexander Akin


Alexander Akin

Alexander Akin

Alexander Akin, whose first international trip was a visit to North Korea at the age of 15, started part-time at Bolerium Books in San Francisco while finishing a PhD in Chinese history at Harvard University. He had previously taken a break from academia to work for Stephen Album Rare Coins, specializing in medieval Islamic, Indian, and East Asian coinage, followed by a year at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco as a researcher and ghostwriter. After finishing his degree and discovering that academia pays even worse than the book trade, he returned to Bolerium in 2011 and became a co-owner in 2013.

Melding his academic interests with his family's multi-generational activist tradition, he has expanded the bookstore’s purview to include Asian language materials, while also cataloging materials related to labor and radical history. He has published a number of articles in the fields of East Asian cartography and numismatics, and his book, East Asian cartographic print culture: the late Ming publishing boom and its trans-regional connections was published by Amsterdam University Press in 2021.

Alexander has dumpster-dived for ephemera in cities from Boston to Beijing. He is the President-Elect of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America.