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As reported recently, the PBFA, which represents 600 secondhand booksellers, many of whom own shops, had argued that Oxfam's use of voluntary staff, donated stock and business-rate reductions allowed the charity to undercut its rivals, forcing some bookshops out of business and hitting the trade done by others.

Although Oxfam denied the charge, they have taken the PBFA's complaint seriously, particularly addressing the criticism that the charity shop staff lack expertise in valuing rare books.

Oxfam say that most of the 20,000 books donated daily to their shops are unlikely to be of interest to the antiquarian book trade, but they have now agreed to bring in specialist dealers where appropriate.

"On the relatively rare occasions on which one of our shops doesn't have the time or expertise to value a significant quantity of books, it makes sense for them to draw on the extra resources available from a member of PBFA to come in and look at the books," said David McCullough, Oxfam's trading director.

"If an ABA or PBFA member could offer a fair price to take them away, it would probably work for everyone. This is a way for us to ensure we operate even more effectively as a bookseller and that we can repay the generosity of our donors by making sure we get the best value for their gift to us."

The news has gone down well with PBFA chairman Peter Moore, who told ATG: "If all goes well, this will benefit Oxfam, as donations of quality books will pass to members of the antiquarian book trade for appraisal and purchase and will more speedily be turned into cash. And the acquisition of those books by the book trade will be of benefit to the trade and their book-collecting customers."

Both organisations will keep a watching brief on how the agreement progresses over the next few months.