Chapter 590 Boston Book Fair Report From a Bookseller Who is Also a Buyer

Though I didn’t get to the big ABAA Book Fair in Boston last weekend, more than a few people I know did. You can read the report of bookseller (Ian of Lux Mentis) who sold books at the fair here, and you can read Jeremy’s (of Philobiblos) report here and here. Most people I know who attended the fair said it was great. I’m only sorry I live on the opposite coast from Boston, or I’d have gone and seen it for myself. Maybe next year . . .

Closer to home, my very own friend and mentor Mr. Z attended the fair to buy books. He did not exhibit or sell books at the Boston Fair this year; he went only to shop. Asked by another bookseller to share his impressions on an email list, he did so. I asked him if he would mind my sharing his thoughts here. Ever generous, Mr. Z consented, so without further adieu, here’s his report:

“I offer the following thoughts on my visit to the two Boston fairs this past weekend….

First, the weather was nothing short of gorgeous. I’ve been in Boston for the fairs when it was raining, snowing, etc. This weekend was the best weather I’ve ever seen in the 15 years I’ve been going to Boston for these events. An anomoly I’m sure, but that fact didn’t prevent me from enjoying the lovely weather!

I went solely to shop [and eat, drink & just generally relax]; I did not exhibit. Given my mission, I consider it an unqualified success. I bought more books on this occasion than I ever have in the past 15 times I’ve made this trip. I can’t give any particular reason for this, other than evidently the planets were in the right alignment.

Ellen & I flew out Wednesday, arriving late in the day. Thursday, after sleeping late, we went to Brattle to see whether or not I could take advantage of their 50%-off sale. I could, did, and a box of books is now enroute to Alameda.

Friday afternoon, at the ABAA fair, I stopped by Ian Kahn’s and Brian Cassidy’s booth — two booksellers who ALWAYS have interesting things — and found I couldn’t leave without 2 photograph albums from Brian’s display case, both of which document a Cuban baseball team from the late 30s.

Saturday morning found me at the shadow fair, and I must say my purchases were weighted towards this fair, at least $$-wise, for I bought Richard’s CAROL, that he advertised on this list prior to the fair. Which offers a nice segue to a selling technique . . . when exhibiting at a fair, trust me when I say browsers won’t see everything offered. Highlight things brought by advance emails, mailings, a list to hand-out, etc. Let folks know of special items you’ll be bringing . . . it will pay off I suspect.

As to other purchases from the weekend, they run the gamut . . . a lot of Dickens, some early 19th C. nursing, childrens, cookery, early aviation, etc, etc. ?Even got some interesting Vietnam material, which is not easy to do these days. The only genre which I like, and don’t recall buying, is STC/Wing books. But hey, can’t have everything! In summary, and generally, to my eye, the crowds at both fairs seemed plentiful, and most folks I saw wandering around had a bag or two in hand. Since I didn’t exhibit, I can’t say whether or not the exhibitors agree with my assessment that the fairs were good ones,but am hopeful they do.

Finally, Boston is a lovely town with lots to offer, and I encourage those that haven’t visited during November fair week to plan to do so in 2011. If you go, I look forward to seeing you there.

P.S. The next big book fair week is here in California, starting with the Pasadena fair the weekend of 2/5; followed by the ABAA fair in San Francisco the following weekend. Make your plane/hotel reservations now.”

Vic Zoschak —
Tavistock Books
First Editions, Rare & Other Collectible Books With a Special Focus on Charles Dickens
1503 Webster St.
Alameda, CA 94501
Phone: 510-814-0480 Fax: 510-814-0486

Coming tomorrow: Antiquarian Book Auctions, Behind the Scenes

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