Win, Place, Show
But if the collector can understand this transformation they can also find exciting possibilities. While dealers bring just a few items it's always appropriate to ask for an overview of their holdings, in particular, what percentage is on line. When it's not, dealers may be open to visits and it can be very worthwhile to make such trips. Of course dealers come from all over so you may both want to visit and find it next to impossible. At the recent ABAA fair I ran into Rodolphe Chamonal. His shop is in Paris. This said, if the destination is exotic, it may be easier to interest a spouse or partner in making the trip.
The trick is to think of shows as windows on much larger inventories: a place to browse and buy today and a roadmap to future day trips and weekends combing shelves, sifting boxes of ephemera and files of documents.
Dealers these days are learning that the internet does not provide a panacea for the aging of the collecting community or the cutthroat competition that weak sales generally and multiple copies specifically inflict on a field that not so long ago thought the challenge was primarily to find great material. Today the challenge is selling. Developing the national, should I say international, habit of visiting dealers where their inventories are, whether at home, at a storage unit or garage, to the extent dealers are open to visits, is a strategy, that if encouraged, will promote sales, relationships and interest.
For collectors, librarians and dealers here is a link to shows scheduled over the first six months of 2010. Think of each show and each exhibitor as an opportunity to understand the buyer-bookseller equation anew. The market is tough but no one has lost, to quote the Righteous Brothers, "that loving feeling."
The AE Book Fairs List.