Auction Update Review
The Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association of America, a trade association for booksellers selling to the carriage trade, held its every other year northern California book fair at the Concourse Convention Center in San Francisco this weekend and from all accounts and descriptions, was a success for most participants. More than two hundred and thirty dealers comprised of ABAA and ILAB members enjoyed steady crowds over the three day weekend. The San Francisco fair has been a local institution for more than four decades.
The general impression, gained from interviews with participants, was of lower expectations and better than expected sales. Ten years ago dealers did consistently better than they do today. “Today I work twice as hard to make half as much” was how one Canadian dealer explained it. "The biggest collectors don’t seem to come to fairs as often as they once did."
Those that did were not disappointed. Dealers brought their A game. This year there were the occasional iPads and a strong enough internet signal to make checking emails and auction records a practical possibility. When such records were checked no one flinched. As one dealer explained it, “I’m looking for customers and am prepared to be competitive."
Almost everyone spoke of the internet as part of their business plan and the majority expressed interest to broaden their internet exposure.
This year, more than for any in recent memory, dealers seem adjusted to the evolving world, have revised their pricing and expectations, and are welcoming collector and institutional contacts and discussions. Collectors and institutions on the east coast will have the chance to see for themselves April 7th to the 10th when the ABAA hosts its premier event, the New York Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory.
Some days the action is in the auction rooms, other days in the book fairs. This weekend good stuff was happening at the Concourse Convention Center.