Chapter 701 Part 1 of The 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2012, Or, It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock n’ Roll

There’s an American slang term for major league baseball — The Show — that’s “The Show” with an upper case “T” and an upper case “S”.  Being in The Show means playing ball in the big leagues, among the professional players.  Before leaving for last weekend’s 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, one of the three largest book fairs in the United States sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), I felt a lot like a rookie player who was going to The Show. This was my chance, at long last, to check out the Big League of bookselling from the seller’s side of the booth.

Like a typical rookie, I had little idea of what to expect.  I was excited. I was supremely happy to be going to The Show, having finally reached a goal I set for myself five years ago. I had wishful and wild delusions (fantasies — not actual expectations) of selling my entire booth of books. (This fantasy is based on a bit of antiquarian bookselling lore that I heard actually happened to another bookseller at an ABAA fair a couple of decades ago.) I was also nervous. Ok. Terrified. I was scared my books would pale in comparison to those of the other booksellers. I worried that my books might not sell at all. And with a few big bills looming in my immediate future, the thought of no sales haunted me like a specter. In short, I was a typical rookie mixture of awe, hope, fear, and wanting to prove that Book Hunter’s Holiday was worthy of being at The Show.

Like a long, nine-inning baseball game, survival of the book fair itself would require pacing. Following immediately on the heels of the previous weekend’s San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair (three days), the ABAA fair in Pasadena, California required one full day of travel, one and a half days of set-up, three days of book fair, one morning seminar, several evening receptions, dinners, and post-dinner drinks, and one full day of driving home. The pace would only be complicated by several disastrous happenings at home just before the fairs began. Frazzled, tired, and unprepared due to domestic disasters was not at all how I envisioned going to The Show, after nearly five years waiting to be eligible to participate. By time I left my house for Pasadena last Tuesday, I was a jumble of nerves and exhaustion.

I knew that I needed to focus on books, to turn off the negative thoughts and worries colliding in my mind. So I decided to do something with which many athletes and runners are familiar. I made a special playlist of music to help me focus on The Show. This sort of playlist can be any sort of music that you like, but it must be music that makes you feel good. It must be music that inspires you in some way. I was a kid and a teenager in the 1970s and 1980s, so I like all the Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, New Wave, Ska, and Punk music from that era. I also like Classical music and Country music.  (Remember: “I am large. I contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman)  To top it off, Tom and Huck, as a bit of a farewell gesture and an effort to get their old Mom to be aware of current musical trends, helped me assemble a playlist of what they call “Decent Music from the 21st Century”.  I had all sorts of songs from which to choose on the long drive to Pasadena.

As I began my journey to The Show, I knew I needed to hear a song that is fantastic, bombastic, and dramatic, a song that contains both truth and ridiculousness; frankly, I needed a song that would keep me awake on the 6+ hour drive.  I chose a song by Australian band AC/DC, a 1974 hit whose title metaphorically sums up my journey in antiquarian bookselling to date:  “It’s a Long Way to the Top If You Wanna Rock n’ Roll”. (Really, you can never go wrong with the combination of electric guitar and bagpipe solo. It never fails to uplift.) 🙂

Part 2  of the fair report to follow tomorrow! See you in the stacks! Meanwhile, video and lyrics of my personal bookselling theme song for the fair are below. If you don’t want to watch or hear it all, watch at least 1:30-2:45 for the insanely great combination of bagpipes and electric guitars.

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the by-ways

Playin’ rock n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up, broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks

It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you think it’s easy doin’ one night stands
Try playin’ in a rock roll band
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

Hotel, motel
Make you wanna cry
Lady do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin’ old
Gettin’ grey
Gettin’ ripped off
Gettin’ sold
Second hand
That’s how it goes
Playin’ in a band

It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you wanna be a star on stage and screen
Look out it’s rough and mean
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Book Fairs

2 responses to “Chapter 701 Part 1 of The 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2012, Or, It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock n’ Roll

  1. I’m glad you had some good music to drive/prep/dream by! Looking forward to hearing the rest of your report!

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