What New York is to the new world London is to the old. In May, Thursday -Saturday the 26th to the 28th, 180 dealers from the United Kingdom and beyond will meet again at the National convention hall at Olympia to seduce and transact. Such fairs are the staple of a field that has seen a significant decline in the number of open shops. This year’s fair is its 59th year. The fair is collaboration managed by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association in collaboration with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers [ILAB]. These are two of the most important bookseller’s associations in the world.
The organizers explain the fair this way:
From medieval manuscripts to modern signed first editions, visitors to the fair can literally hold history in their hands as they view and buy museum-quality books, maps, prints, photographs, manuscripts, ephemera and original artwork. Our exhibitors also welcome you to browse their highlights, and to get in touch prior to the Fair. They will be happy to bring specific items for your inspection, and this is an excellent opportunity to make new contacts in your area of interest.
In addition to the regular exhibitors Live at Olympia is a carefully selected series of exhibitions and live events run by leading professionals. Specialist organizations and craftspeople offer demonstrations of their products and services, and fascinating hands-on workshops (including family-friendly activities) give patrons a chance to dive straight into the world of fine printing, bookbinding, and calligraphy. Both newcomers and seasoned fair-goers will also enjoy guided tours of the show’s treasures led by our expert exhibitors. This year the Fair's theme is The Birth of the Gothic: Two Centuries of Frankenstein, Vampires & Byronic Darkness, celebrating the year in which Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Polydori's The Vampyre were conceived on a stormy night at the Villa Diodati. Many exhibitors are bringing related books, prints, and other items, and there will be themed tours and snacks in the cafe, as well as a historic film. A complete list of events and tours will be available closer to the date.
Thursday May 26th: 1 pm to 8 pm
Friday May 27th: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Saturday May 28th: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
These days both the what and how of bookselling and buying is under reconsideration as the market shifts into the ether and rules and customs adjust. So much has already changed and so much more will change.
What is certain is that the rare book and collectible paper field will find its land legs in this new world. New collectors will discover subjects and dealers new clients. So if you can, join these festivities. It will be a grand time.
London W14 8UX