Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2014 Issue

Book Fairs, vital to the future of collecting, need to open they doors to exhibitors a bit wider

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Tina and John Bruno of Flamingo Eventz

Book Fairs, for decades have been an integral part of the rare and collectible book business but their role has been changing and their importance declining as the structure of the business has been recast by the internet, by the development of online listing sites and the emergence of the online access to auctions.  This has been difficult and probably inevitable but it is disturbing and worth whatever efforts can be made to maintain the frequency, prominence and importance of rare book fairs.

 

The loss of the main street shop has happened so quickly and ended with such finality that barely a word is even spoken about it now.  Certainly some shops remain and some ingenious players are figuring out how to survive, and even prosper but the halcyon days of great shops, even in the largest towns, is gone.  We bid and buy online in ever increasing numbers but thereby miss the human interaction that was once an essential component of the trade.

 

This past week I checked in with both the Bustamante Shows and the Flamingo Eventz organizations and their continuing efforts to promote shows in the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera categories.  Both have been at it for years and have been very successful promoting fairs on the east and west coasts of the United States.  In speaking about shows they describe a selling medium in transition.  In Rochester, New Hampshire, Tina Bruno of Flamingo indicated that the volume of shows nationally has probably declined significantly over the past five years but emphasizes that the shows that continue are the strong ones and they look secure.  But she notes too that the average age of exhibitors has been increasing even as the oldest participants are exiting.  The Bustamante Organization in California sees it somewhat differently.  “Books, manuscript, maps and ephemera look pretty good to us.  We also promote antiques fairs and they are a much tougher proposition.  These days such fairs attract perhaps a third of the participants they used to.  By comparison our books fairs are quite strong, if not quite so many as they used to be.” 

 

I asked both if, to attract new exhibitors and regular traffic, such shows should be more open to collector-dealer participation, something that many dealers are concerned about.  In principal the answer is yes but dealer concerns are not baseless.  Collectors who become dealers to participate long term will be welcome while those simply looking to do a few shows to liquidate their holdings will not.  Dealers understand that prices move in two directions but are concerned that fire sales will undermine the entire field. 

 

The ABAA, the most important show promoter in the category, as a member organization does not accept casual exhibitors.  This is simply their rule.  But other shows, those of Bustamante and Flamingo for example, are not so bound and could provide opportunities for fledgling collector-dealers to offer material.  After all, as one promoter pointed out, “virtually every dealer started out as a collector,” but of course that was when the field was growing and prices were rising.  Getting through this difficult period will take some coordination but I expect many collectors will be interested to become exhibitors if given the chance.

 

Net of all consideration shows are still losing ground, the strongest doing fine but others fraying at the edges.  The causes are obvious; aging dealers, tired inventory and the explosion in collecting options.  Encouraging collectors interested to become dealers could bring fresh vitality, new faces, and material that have set on shelves for decades. 

 

This is logical given that the field is still struggling to find the next generation of collectors.  They are buying but they are buying at auction.  An important step for the trade will be to encourage these newbies to come to shows.  To do that fresh faces and fresh material will be key.  Once there, the dealers’ great material and persuasive ways can do their magic.  Online listings tend to make copies sound the same.  In person the collector can see first hand the difference.  And once understood, the dealer becomes a source of material and perspective.

 

For promoters an infusion of collector-dealers could refill the now somewhat depleted exhibitor lists, perhaps enough so that within a few years such events might even provide a meaningful uptick in attendance.  In time statistics such as 40 professional dealers and 25 collector-dealers might infuse these shows with real excitement.  For myself a large group of collector-dealers would be very interesting.  I could even see a once every two-year collector-to-collector show, becoming a major national event.

 

Whatever else you take away from this brief article the net-net is that shows are very important.  And I suspect the next wave of dealers will come from the serious collector ranks.  They will bring vitality and I hope they will be welcomed.

 

If you are a collector and would consider manning your own booth a few times each year contact one of these organizations or email me at bmckinney@americanaexchange.com for a discussion.  There are shows that will welcome you.

 

Flamingo Eventz, LLC

Tina and John Bruno

P. O. Box 157

Rochester, New Hampshire 03866

603.509.2639

Email:  info@flamingoeventz.com

 

Bustamante Shows

P. O.Box 637

Atwater, California 95301

209.358.3134

Email:  shelia@bustamante-shows.com

  

And finally, as a reminder of the importance of shows, here’s a list of events in the United States and Canada from now to year-end.

 

Oak Knoll Fest XVIII

New Castle, Delaware 19720

Symposium and Festival

Friday-Sunday, October 3-5

Book Fair:

Saturday October 4th, 12-5

Sunday October 5, 12-3:30

 

Allentown Book and Paper Show

W. Chew Street & 17th Street

Allentown, Pennsylvania 18104

Saturday October 4th, 9-5

Sunday October 5th, 9-3

 

The Pasadena Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo & Paper Fair

The Pasadena Center

300 East Green Street

Pasadena, California 91101

Saturday October 4th, 11-6

Sunday October 5th, 11-4

 

Greater Seattle Postcard & Paper Collectibles Fair

Kent Commons

525 4th Avenue N. Kent

Seattle, Washington 98032

Saturday October 4th, 10-6

Sunday October 5th, 11-4

 

Vancouver Antiquarian, Collectible & Rare Book Fair

UBC Robson Square

Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 3B7

Saturday October 4th, 1 to 7

Sunday October 5th, 11 to 4

 

Vermont Foliage Book Fair

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

10 Vernon Street

Brattleboro, Vermont 05301

Saturday October 4, 11-5

 

Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show

333 E. Michigan Avenue

Lansing, Michigan 48933

Sunday October 5, 9:30 to 5

 

North Texas Book & Paper Show

Grapevine Convention Center

1209 South Main Street

Grapevine, Texas 76051

Friday, October 10, 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, October 11, 10 to 5

 

53rd Annual Chicago Book and Paper Fair

Journeymen Plumbers’ Union Hall

1349 W. Washington Boulevard

Chicago, Illinois 60607

Saturday, October 11. 10 to 5

 

Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair

Seattle Center Exhibition Hall

3rd Avenue North & Mercer Streets

Seattle, Washington 98109

Saturday October 11, 10 to 6

Sunday October 12, 11 to 4

 

The Pioneer Valley Book & Ephemera Fair

The Smith Vocational School

80 Locust Street [Rt. 9]

Northampton, Massachusetts 01060

Sunday October 12, 10 to 4

 

Fine Press Showcase at the 39th Annual American Printing History Association Conference held jointly with the Friends of Dard Hunter

375 Rhode Island Street

San Francisco, California 94103

Thursday, October 16 to Saturday, October 18

Check their website for events and hours

printinghistory.org/programs/conference/2014-conference/

  

62nd York Book & Paper Fair

Holiday Inn & Conference Center

2000 Loucks Road

York, Pennsylvania

Saturday, October 18, 9 to 4

 

40th Annual Albany Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair

195 Washington Avenue

Albany, New York 12210

Sunday October 19, 10 to 4

 

The 34th Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair

Tudor Hall

3750 North Bowesville Road

Ottawa, Ontario K1V 1B8

Sunday October 26th, 10:30 to 5

 

The 71st Long Island Antiquarian Book Dealer’s Fair

Hofstra University Student Center

200 Hofstra University Dr., [off Hempstead Turnpike]

Hempstead, New York 11549

Saturday November 1, 11 to 6

Sunday November 2, 11 to 4

 

San Marino Postcard & Paper Collectible Fair

San Marino Masonic Center

3130 Huntington Drive

San Marino, California 91108

Saturday, November 1, 10 to 6

Sunday, November 2, 10 to 4

 

Gadsden’s Wychwood Old Book and Paper Show

Artscape Wychwood Barns

601 Christie Street

Toronto, Ontario M6G 4C7

Sunday, November 2, 10 to 4

 

12th Annual Houston Book Fair

The Museum of Printing History

1324 West Clay Street

Houston, Texas 77019

Saturday, November 8, 10 to 5

 

Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair

Art Gallery of Ontario

317 Dundas Street West

Toronto, Ontario M5T 1G4

Friday, November 7, 5 to 9

Saturday, November 8, 10 to 5

Sunday, November 9, noon to 4:30

 

The 38th Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair

John B. Hynes Convention Center

900 Boyleston Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Friday, November 14, 5 to 9 pm

Saturday, November 15, noon to 7

Sunday, November 16, noon to 5

 

The Shadow Show

The Boston Book, Print, and Ephemera Show

John Hancock Hall

Back Bay Events Center

180 Berkeley Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Saturday November 15, 8 to 4

 

Vintage Paper Fair – Silicon Valley

San Jose Elks Lodge

444 West Alma Avenue

San Jose, California 95110

Saturday, November 15, 10 to 5

 

The New Jersey Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair

The Bethwood

38 Lackawanna Avenue

Totowa, New Jersey 07511

Friday, November 28, 5 to 9

Saturday, November 29, 9 to 3

 


Posted On: 2014-10-01 11:58
User Name: donmenz

Collector/Dealer from Connecticut who has just retired and plans to pursue the lifelong dream of buying and selling in my retirement. I would be very interested in getting back into some successful shows, including the collector-collector type of venue.


Posted On: 2014-10-02 00:04
User Name: tenpound

Bruce:

I think any dealer would welcome fresh stock at local book fairs. Let the market decide if prices are right. Collectors who paid a retail price and seek to recover it may go home disappointed, thereby resolving the "threat" their presence is supposed to pose.

Greg Gibson
Ten Pound Island Book Co.


Posted On: 2014-10-08 17:45
User Name: Fattrad1

While I am thrilled to read of any idea which promotes the collecting of books, the ideas presented above have no basis in reality. Let's take the premise of the collector-collector book fair, who will pay in advance for the venue? Pay for advertising? The reality is that dealers at fairs are vetted either by their peers or professional organizations, who will vet a "collector" for their level of knowledge of their material?? The booksellers on EBay are the classic example, so many errors, high/low pricing, fraud, etc.

Jeff


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
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    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
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    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Frank Beatty, <i>Out of the Running</i>, 1929. $2,000 to $3,000.
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