To experience the ABAA Book Fair in New York first hand I flew over a day ahead of the Thursday preview and stayed nearby. It was a trip well worth making.
The 52nd New York Fair, the mother ship of the ABAA, opened in New York for its annual four day run on Thursday April 12th to run through Sunday the 15th. By consensus it was a grand success, catering to an audience long trained to expect the top dealers and their best material to be on display. Attendance was moderate but the audience motivated. In a departure from prior years sales were more evenly divided over the four days – suggesting the trend to retail [selling to the public rather than selling to dealers] continues. In past years, for many dealers, the pre-opening and opening night segments saw the best selling.
Continuing another now established trend dealers brought more unique and visually appealing items. With the Internet knee deep in material for sale this show and other book fairs have increasingly needed to showcase the truly rare and unique. The more pedestrian anymore is bought on line. At this fair this perspective was on clear display.
Across and down the rows an A list of beautiful bindings, signed and association copies, important manuscript material, early and beautiful maps, altogether gave impetus to institutions and collectors to buy, to in some cases request items be sent on approval, in other cases to open negotiations. However these processes started in many cases these purchases are already tucked safely into collections. For many acquirers the New York fair is justifiably their world series.
The rich and famous came out in force. Yoko Ono, John Larraquette, Lucie Liu, Chelsea Clinton, Steve Martin and Bill O’Reilly all browsed. The fair organizers were officially tweeting and when Steve Martin was mentioned the tweets are reported to have jumped from 100,000 to 2.1 million. He really is a wild and crazy guy.