Chapter 703 Part 3 of the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2012, Or, No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

I woke early Friday morning, planning to finish setting up my booth and do a little book shopping prior to the fair opening to the public at 3:00 p.m.  When I entered the exhibit hall, I saw a table with lots of bookseller catalogues that visitors to the fair could take with them. What a delight to see The Collective Catalogue, featuring my books and the books of my bookselling friends right next to the other bookseller catalogues! (See top left corner.)

Here’s my booth as it finally looked when it was all set for the fair:

Some bookshelves:

More bookshelves:

My booth was on a corner, so I did what I could to utilize the outside edge of my real estate:

Glass counter case:

The fair opened at 3:00 p.m. sharp, and I am happy to say that many people filled the wide aisles and crowded the booths. The abundant publicity certainly helped this fair get a good turn out. The booth was busy with activity, some people buying and some not — but, hey, when your booth is one of 200, you accept the fact that not everyone who visits it will buy a book. I met some new customers, some librarians, some booksellers, and some book collectors, I sold some books. All was good, and then the fair closed 9:00 p.m. It was an exhausting 12-hour day, but not so exhausting that I couldn’t enjoy a delicious dinner with some colleagues afterward.

Here are photos of a few other booksellers’ booths:

Brad and Jennifer Johnson of The Book Shop. Young Mr. Koch of Books Tell You Why is also in the photo:

B & B Rare Books

My mentor, the distinguished Mr. Z of Tavistock Books:

One of my across the aisle neighbors was William Reese Company and right next door to them was Australia’s Hordern House. Even though I had every intention of introducing myself to my neighbors, I had a terrible attack of shyness and fear of booksellers-whose-books-cannot-be-matched-by-anyone-else and barely said anything to them all weekend. (Why must I be so socially awkward? I really wasn’t trying to be snobbish, but for a book nerd, meeting such a bookseller is like meeting a rock star. I get tongue-tied and nervous. I tend to forget they’re just people hoping to have a good fair, too.) Truly, I was honored and awed to be in such esteemed company.  You want great books? These two firms have better-than-great books! And I have to add a special thank you to Teri Osborn of William Reese Company, who, when my booth was too busy for me to leave, brought me a sandwich to eat during her own lunch break. Twice! Thanks, Teri!  Nick Aretakis, who also works for William Reese Co. and who I knew via email but had never met in person, bravely took the walk across the aisle to my booth to say hello and wish me a good fair.  And Derek and Anthony from Hordern House cheerfully said hello and introduced themselves during the course of the weekend.

I wasn’t the only rookie at the fair.  The Book Hunter’s Holiday booth was right next door to the booths of two other ABAA rookies, Howard Prouty of ReadInk Books and John Howell of John Howell for Books. It was such a relief not to be the only brand new bookseller at the fair and a real comfort to know that the other new guys were in the two booths next to mine. Most appreciated was the occasional help over the weekend of Howard and John’s assistants, Gayle, Beth, and Merle. We referred to ourselves as Rookies’ Row.

Left to right: Howard Prouty, John Howell, and me.

Too often I hear booksellers say that we’re not in the Golden Age of bookselling any more. Perhaps we’re not. I wasn’t a bookseller during the so-called Golden Age. I wasn’t even alive during the Golden Age, although I’ve read about and it sounds like it was a good time. All I know is that my days at this particular fair were Glory Days. I sold some books – not all of them, but enough of them. I bought some books — not all I wanted, but enough of them. I met lots of new book collectors, librarians, and booksellers. I even met a couple of videographers (more on that tomorrow). I dined with friends and colleagues every night. I heard lots of antiquarian bookselling legend and lore. Last weekend, in the supposed sunset of the printed book, in an era dominated by digital technology, in the sleepy town of Pasadena, just outside of Los Angeles, hundreds of booksellers and thousands of bibliophiles came together from all over the world to celebrate the printed word.  I can’t imagine anything more golden than that.

A few more photos to wrap it all up tomorrow!

Adding this last song from my book fair playlist. Bruce Springsteen and Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem (the past and the future of Rock performing together) singing “No Surrender”. This song’s for all you booksellers out there who think the era of printed books is over:

We busted out of class had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school
Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
You say you’re tired and you just want to close your eyes and follow your dreams down

We made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat no surrender
Like soldiers in the winter’s night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender

Now young faces grow sad and old and hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
I’m ready to grow young again
And hear your sister’s voice calling us home across the open yards
Well maybe we could cut someplace of our own
With these drums and these guitars

Blood brothers in the stormy night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender

Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim
The walls of my room are closing in
There’s a war outside still raging
you say it ain’t ours anymore to win
I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover’s bed
with a wide open country in my eyes
and these romantic dreams in my head

Blood brothers in the stormy night with a vow to defend
No retreat no surrender”


Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Book Fairs

6 responses to “Chapter 703 Part 3 of the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2012, Or, No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender

  1. Really enjoyed your account of the fair! Feel free to come and talk to us anytime 🙂 over at the Adrian Harrington stand…

  2. David Klappholz

    Who told you that Pasadena is a sleepy town?

    • Maybe sleepy isn’t the best word. It’s those lovely Arts and Crafts homes that give me that feeling. That and the fact that it’s a university town (CalTech) and that there are few if any high rise buildings. It’s still sophisticated — with lovely architecture and the Huntington Library and lots of museums. Being from up North, I think of it as the Southern California sister-city of Palo Alto. It’s a big small town.

  3. You have a nice way with words Chris, the sum of which recalls the essence of our lovely weekend in Pasadena! Thanks for posting. Look forward to Sacramento next! 🙂

    • Thanks, Vic. Your longtime encouragement of my bookselling folly is one of the things that got me here. Thanks for helping new booksellers with advice and time. (And an extra special thanks for driving some of my books to Pasadena and back when my van broke down!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s