Affairs of the Heart
They are busy and will be the entire time. Selling is a series of trapeze leaps ["I'm interested, I'll come back later;" "Do you have a card?", "Wow Jimmy, this looks good."] Some orders will be written, some will close the following week. Many leads will evaporate. It will take a week or more to measure the outcome.
On Friday night Jenny and I walk the ABAA show. Many exhibitors are AE members and we stop to say hello. I see an item in the Bartleby booth that one of our members will be interested in and make a note to contact them about it.
We then stop in at the Hanrahan's booth and am surprised at how small their inventory seems. Of course they couldn't bring too much: 1 or 2% of their stock by volume, a higher percentage by dollar value. This is some of their important material but nothing to compare with their complete inventory. I want to see a series of images on the back wall that convey what I already know they have, a substantial and appealing inventory back home. If people walking by see such images some will inevitably ask about visiting. Their lifelong commitment and dedication to old and rare books, evident in their manner and speech, is not reinforced to the casual passerby by what they see.
On Saturday morning we're up early for the satellite show. The wind is blowing and it's raining. Umbrellas invert instantly. The two block walk becomes a $5.00 taxi ride with a few "it'll be better [for whom?] if we turn here." Leigh, at 79, with some help set up his booth Friday afternoon. Lots of passes have been given out. It turns out these passes give you the right to buy a ticket. Thank you! Once here of course there is no turning back. The place is crowded. It feels like an emporium in Istanbul or the subway in Rome, only more crowded. I put my wallet in my front pocket.
The traffic is not greater than the ABAA fair but the isles are congested. Somebody saved money on signs and it's a bad idea. Identification is important. Who am I talking to? They are acting like I know them. By my squint I ask Jenny for help. If she knows them she'll say "hi Jim or Bob." This woman has been saving me for years.
The material is very mixed. Important maps are only a few feet from unimportant Abe Books debris.
It takes about three hours to get from the first room to the last. Toward the end we speak with Leigh who has brought thousands of items, 3,000 by his estimate, been visited by major players, made one substantial sale and a group of small ones. One person has come by, examined a book and expressed the opinion it may include a map in facsimile. Leigh removes it from sale. Everyone who buys or sells material has experienced this. As a serious dealer Leigh backs his material, and if sold, issues refunds. It rarely happens but provides insight into the man.