LA: A Hot Spot for Books in February
By Bruce McKinney
The ABAA, the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, stages its biennial Book Fair in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza from February 12-14. The ABAA expects about two hundred rare book exhibitors and many of the great collectors to attend. This year's theme is "all about great books turned into great movies." The material available however will reflect the specialties of each participating dealer so Gutenberg leaves and Leaves of Grass will probably both be present along with first editions of Gone with the Wind and Grapes of Wrath. As dealers tend to bring "fresh" material, that is their most recent acquisitions, such fairs often provide the first and often only opportunity to see such material before it disappears into collections.
California generally and Southern California more specifically have recently been islands of strength in the rare book business which is suffering through the economic downturn while also adjusting to Google-ization of full text search, the surge in online listings, the aging of the collecting community and the emergence of better online search tools. That the field remains optimistic suggests collectors and collecting libraries are undeterred.
At the top of the rare book business, in any event, such changes have had less impact even as the veil that traditionally shrouded sources and costs has been rising. Important books continue to be the province of the important dealers. Only the level of negotiation has sometimes increased.
Such shows are unique opportunities to see exceptional material, to see the single book purchased by an experienced dealer from a 10,000 book library, the only book meeting the highest standards for condition and rarity. At this show you see that one book, online the other 9,999.
So if you are serious or thinking about becoming serious about books, manuscripts and ephemera spend a day browsing. There will be more than ten thousand years of experience in the hall and approximately 70,000 volumes on the walls to evaluate.
All collectors and collections begin with a single book.
Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, California 90067
Friday [2/12] 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm;
Saturday [2/13] 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sunday [2/14] 11:00 am to 5:00 pm