Britain's Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA) has launched its first virtual book fair, this year's edition of Firsts London. The virtual or online book fair has become the norm where fairs have not been cancelled entirely. Regular fairs are too close for comfort.
Firsts London Online has been timed to occur at the same time as the ABA's originally scheduled Firsts London fair. The dates are set for June 5-7, though items can still be viewed online until June 11. Dealers will be attending from many other countries, including several continental European lands and America. Each will get to feature up to 12 of their highlights at the fair. Here are a few of them:
First edition of Rene Descartes’ first and most famous work ‘Discours de la methode
pour bien conduire la raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences’  by exhibitor
Sophia Rare Books.
An album of annotated watercolors by amateur ornithologist Thomas Howitt, drawn
after Alexander Wilson’s ‘American Ornithology’  by exhibitor Antiquariat Michael
One of only five pages of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club manuscript by
Charles Dickens remaining in private hands [c. April 1837] by exhibitor Peter
Manuscript of Discourse by Sir William Petty made before the Royal Society on 26th
November 1674 to persuade for the scientific use of mathematics to human affairs by
exhibitor Nigel Phillips Rare Books.
Signed Odham’s Press edition in four volumes of Sir Winston Churchill’s ‘My Early Life
– Thoughts and Adventures – Great Contemporaries’  by exhibitor Paul Foster
The fair will provide contact details for each dealer to allow for the personal interaction of a book fair, not the impersonal buying of a website. Speaking of the new format, Fair Chairman Pom Harrington said, “Fairs remain an important fixture in the world of fine collectibles and art, and virtual fairs are being embraced by dealers and customers alike. We are delighted to be able to host Firsts London in a digital format this year and provide our exhibitors and colleagues a platform to showcase their items.”
One of the major benefits of the virtual fair is that anyone can attend, from anywhere in the world. There will be many first-time visitors to Firsts London. Even those who planned to attend from afar can now avoid the fears that come with flying on an airplane these days.
Look for the fair to go live at 2:00 p.m. GMT on Friday, June 5. The website to attend the fair is www.firstslondon.com.