The Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair
For Robert Rulon-Miller, past president of the ABAA and proprietor of Rulon-Miller Books of Saint Paul, Minnesota, "This was an off year but we will of course continue to participate." Mr. Rulon-Miller brought more valuable material and he may yet close some sales based on the exit survey we conducted. We found that about 10% of the one thousand six hundred who attended came with clear collecting agendas. Their collections were long ago defined and they now rarely reach beyond their collections' natural boundaries. They are looking for specific material and whether they see it at shows or simply learn about it there their process includes research and negotiations which mean completed transactions may be weeks away.
Greg Gibson of Ten Pound Island didn't have a big fair either although year in and year out shows are an important part of his business. He issues catalogues, posts about 6,000 items on line and does about a dozen book-selling events annually.
Kol Shaver of Zephyr Books of Vancouver did well. He too sold mainly less expensive material but also completed the sale of a Bancroft set. He's closing his shop after 14 years, following the trend that is seeing book selling move from bricks and mortar to websites and mice. Shows are an important part of his future. Like a liquid becoming a gas he's simply changing state.
David Meeker of Nick Adams & Co. of Sacramento had a different but nevertheless positive experience. He sold only three books for $500 but purchased $18,000 of material for stock. He neither lists nor issues catalogues. Shows and personal relationships are the heart of his business and he's a frequent exhibitor on the west coast circuit.
Helen Kahn of Montreal exhibited at this fair for the first time, in part to fill a space on her dance card left open after she stopped exhibiting at the ABAA's November Boston Fair two years ago. She brought "Northwest" material and made several very good sales to knowledgeable collectors.
An example of the new collector was on the floor and went virtually unrecognized. He's 26 years old and is an avid collector of science fiction, fantasy, Steven King and baseball cards. He makes money buying at garage and library sales and at Good Will and sells on eBay, Abe and Alibris. With the money he makes he goes to serious shows to buy better material for himself. When I sat down with him he had $2,000 in his wallet and had been rebuffed by one dealer who stepped in when he opened a valuable book to examine it. "Hey young man, that's a very valuable book" and shoed him away. Let's all recognize that the new collector is 30 or 40 years younger than we are.