Chapter 717 Views from the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair

The booth across the aisle from mine at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. The booths were this busy most of the day.

Last weekend I had the good fortune to exhibit and sell books at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. Of course, I also had the good fortune to socialize with my fellow booksellers and some repeat customers as well as to buy some books. This fair, held twice a year, in September and in March, was the very first fair for Book Hunter’s Holiday way back in 2007, and as such, it holds a special place in my heart as one of my favorite book fairs.

It’s a small, regional fair, with around 60 dealers. I like it because it’s not too far from home and, though sales are sometimes good and sometimes not as good, I almost always find good books to buy at reasonable prices. I was nervous this time around, because about a year-and-a-half ago, I had my worst sales ever at a book fair at the Sacramento fair. While that’s more a reflection on my bookselling skill than on the fair, I’ve been a little tentative about fairs since then. Still, I just can’t miss the opportunity to buy and sell books and to have dinner with my fellow booksellers so close to home and at such a reasonable price. And you can never truly predict when or why one fair will be good and another bad. When I average it out over the five years I’ve done this fair, Sacramento has more often than not been a profitable enterprise for me.
This time around, the promoter of the fair, Jim Kay of bookbomb.com sold out every exhibitor space and had a waiting list of exhibitors. This is in no small part due to his willingness to keep the fair affordable for dealers, to promote and advertise the fair heavily, and to his sense of humor. Every time I have done this fair, whether sales have been high or low, I know that Jim consistently gets lots of people through the door — last time I did this fair, it was over 600 people for 60 dealers.

The weather was beautiful, with hot Indian Summer temperatures and sunny skies. I packed in a hurry late Thursday night and hoped the fair would be a successful one. No matter whether my sales were good or bad, I knew that at the very least I’d have a great weekend with my fellow booksellers. There were over 60 booksellers, most from west of the Rocky Mountains, and they included me (Book Hunter’s Holiday), Mr. Z (Tavistock Books), Brad Johnson (The Book Shop), Taylor Bowie (John Michael Lang Fine Books), Stephanie Howlett-West (S. Howlett-West Books), Jim Graham (James Graham, Bookseller), John Howell (John Howell for Books), Ken Sanders (Ken Sanders Rare Books). A few other booksellers also came up to assist, most notably Zhenya Dzhavgova (Z-H Books) and Greg Krisilas (Coconut Rose Rare Books and Autographs). A couple more Bay Area booksellers were also seen at the fair, examining (and sometimes buying) the books of their colleagues, including John Windle (John Windle Antiquarian Books) and Bob Haines (Argonaut Book Shop). I was sorry that I didn’t get to leave for the fair earlier, which would have also given me time to shop the lovely book shop of Sacramento bookseller, Barry Cassidy (Barry Cassidy Rare Books). Next time!

As far as the Sacramento fair goes, this one was good for me in all ways — selling books, buying books, and fraternizing with my bibliophilic buddies. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Rather than take pictures of my own booth, which I’ve done many, many times before, I thought I’d share photos of some of my colleagues and their booths:

Brad Johnson of The Book Shop created a welcoming atmosphere in his booth.

Zhenya Dzhavgova graces the booth of John Howell for Books.

Jim Graham shows Greg Krisilas a good book.

From right to left: Stephanie Howlett-West, me, and Stephanie’s assistant for the fair, Kim (Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, 2012).

Brad Johnson and Ken Sanders celebrate the end of another Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair.

Post-fair celebratory bookseller dinner with what one bookseller called a “rogue’s gallery”.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 716 Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Books

If you’re still checking on this blog after the past several months, I am amazed. And if you’re still there, yes, I am still here. The blog and I have been silent for months for a variety of reasons, most of which are not compelling to anyone but me. To all who have emailed or called or asked in person, thank you. I very much appreciate all who noticed my absence and took the time to check in with me. And even if you didn’t notice my “radio silence” until you read this very post, thanks for reading right now. I am happy to report that I am fine, that my family is fine, and that Book Hunter’s Holiday is still here. There are a few new things to report about Book Hunter’s Holiday, and I’ll elaborate on that next time I post, which will likely be after this coming weekend’s Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair.

(Poster above is a 1940 Works Progress Administration poster. I saw it recently on a bookish website, but I am sorry to say I can’t recall which one. In any case, thanks to the person who first posted it.)

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 715 I’m Not The Only Bookseller Who, For Better Or For Worse, Loves Book Fairs

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is happening this weekend — and I’m here, where I usually am, in California. Some day at some point in the future, I will make my way to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, but right now life at home is not to be missed.  Look at these photos of the very rare (but not unheard of) weather we had last night:

Credit:  Phil McGrew/SF Gate

That’s lightning striking the Bay Bridge. And here’s the Golden Gate Bridge:

Have I said aloud that even though replacing our roof was an inconvenient and very expensive project, I’m so thankful we did so? Despite very heavy downpours, high winds, hail, thunder, lightning —  and yes, even a tornado warning —  there was not a drop of water inside the house last night. I am so grateful for that.

While I’ve literally been helping to keep a roof over my family’s head, I’ve also been thinking of my bookselling colleagues at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair and hoping that there are lots of book sales and that lots of fun is had by all. I have no doubt that Ian Kahn will keep us all informed about the fair with his usual photo-filled posts over at the Lux Mentis blog.

One of my bookselling colleagues and partners in February’s Collective Catalogue endeavor is writing for Forbes.com about being an entrepreneur.   Sunday Steinkirchner of B&B Rare Books has written a great post on the pleasures and pitfalls of book fairs and of owning one’s own business. She captures the essence of that and confirms some of my own book fair experiences when she writes:

“Trade shows are also the epitome of risk. They are expensive and time consuming, and there is no guarantee that the investment will pay off. We’ve had shows where we have doubled our investment within the first few hours… dinner on us! We’ve had complete busts whereby we and other sellers have resorted to flinging rubber bands at each other for entertainment… time to eat take-out in the hotel room. The potential for business can also be intimidating. When high expectations are not met, the tension and anxiety on the long drive home can be overwhelming.”

I highly recommend that you pop over here to read all of it.

See you in the stacks! Someday in the future, I’ll also see you at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair!

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Chapter 714 Why I Haven’t Written Lately

Happy to say that Phase One of the new roof is complete. The old roof was removed and the new roof is now on. Next up is an electrical inspection in the attic and then new insulation. Did I mention that my kids are home from school this week (Easter Break), too? And another new opportunity, about which I will write some other time, has popped up, too.  Not much book work going on these days, but I promise I’ll be back just as soon as I can.

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Chapter 713 Spring 2012 Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair Report

I should not write things like, “You can expect a full report on the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair upon my return,” because that inevitably doesn’t happen.  This time, I’m happy to report that my delay in writing a post for the blog is caused by a happy event — Phase One of our huge home repair project. After the roof sprung a massive leak right into the living room the week before the San Francisco Antiquarian Book Fair in February, we had to think long and hard about replacing the roof and seriously fixing some other long-deferred home repairs. Phase One (new roof) began today.

An insulation company is removing the old insulation from the attic/crawl space as I write. Once that’s done and we get some sunny weather, the roofer will remove the old roof, new insulation will be put up in the attic to keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and then the new roof will go on. Blogging may be infrequent while we try to make the jobs of the insulator and roofer as easy as possible. We’re hoping the job is completed before rain enters the forecast again on Saturday.

(Note: I started writing this post four days ago. It’s now Saturday and the roof is covered in boards and paper (i.e. water tight). The shingles will go on next week. It’s pouring rain today with huge gusts of wind. So far. So good. I’m holding my breath until the shingles are on next week.)

Fortunately, those who have been eager to hear about the fair can read the report of S. Howlett-West Books, here.

As to my fair, it went pretty well this time. I went to Sacramento a day early and had a chance to spend a couple of hours shopping in the beautiful shop (in a cute bungalow-style home) of Barry Cassidy Rare Books.   Barry recently bought a large collection of 60,000 books, which he is moving into his shop in increments.  If you’re in the Sacramento area, I highly recommend book hunting here. You won’t be disappointed.

Barry Cassidy Rare Books in Sacramento:

After shopping at Barry’s, it was off to set up for the fair. My good friends from Carpe Diem Fine Books couldn’t join us this time, so Mr. Z. and I split a large booth space.  While there were lots of familiar faces, there were also a few booksellers trying their hand at this fair for the first time:  John Howell for Books, Michael Clausen, Asian Steppes Antiquarian Books, Shakespeare & Co. of Berkeley, Vela-Libra Booksellers, and Discoveries West Gallery and Archive.  (Note: not all of these sellers have websites, but they all have books for sale. You should plan to come to a future book fair to see their inventory for yourself.)

Here are a few photos from around the fair:

The shared booth of Book Hunter’s Holiday and Tavistock Books. (That’s Mr. Z in the orange San Francisco Giants cap. He is a die-hard Giants fan.)

The booth of Stephanie Howlett-West of S. Howlett-West Books:

John Howell of John Howell for Books keeping busy:

A few close ups of my books:

From the small collection of books (some signed) I purchased just before the fair:

Pretty books whose covers I like:

Mostly Western Americana:

A few close ups of the items in my glass counter case:

I bought some books during set-up, even purchasing a really unusual item in partnership with Mr. Z. (More on that at a later time.) I’d like to show you photos of what I purchased, but given the work that’s going on in my house at the moment, the books are all boxed up so that they don’t get dusty and I don’t have them readily accessible.  I sold books at a steady pace during this fair, a great improvement over my performance at the last March Sacramento fair.

My favorite thing about this regional fair is that it’s small size is an advantage:  one can scout the entire room in a day, the booksellers you know are nearby and it’s easy to get across the room to meet the booksellers you don’t know. Jim Kay, the promoter of the fair, does a fantastic job getting a good turnout for the fair. The aisles are crowded with people, some browsing and some buying, all bibliophiles.  This fair also has a nice mix of dealers with books at all price ranges. Good buys and good fun can be had here. The next Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair will be held on September 15, 2012. I suggest putting it on your calendar if you’re in California around that time.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 712 Cataloguing Machine

I’m pleased to tell you that a house call late last week ended with my purchasing a small collection of 75 books. I’m also pleased to tell you that the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair is coming up next Saturday, March 24 and I’ll be exhibiting in my usual space right inside the entrance to the main hall. Stop by if you’re in the area, and if you know you’re planning to come, leave a comment below and I can email you a free pass! And, yes, I’ll be bringing as many of those new finds as I can get priced and catalogued to the fair, so stop by if you’d like to see them.

I now have to catalogue and cover with clear, mylar dustjacket protectors all of these books by the time I leave for the fair at the end of week. Since that’s a big task, and, frankly, not one I’m sure I will completely accomplish given my other responsibilities, I’m going to take a blogging break until I return from the fair so I can do my best to get the job done. My plan for the week is to be a book cataloguing machine.  You can expect a full report on the fair when I return.

Meanwhile, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in our usual way around here:

The Leprechaun visited, and though he was disappointed that everyone around here has grown up so much that they no longer build a trap, he left his footprints, a card, and a couple of treats behind.

I baked two loaves of Irish Soda Bread (my Nana’s recipe, which came from her mother, who came to this country from Ireland at the turn of the 20th century). One of our longtime St. Patrick’s Day traditions — one that’s been around even longer than the Leprechaun trap — is that we make a Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner for some friends and sometimes for extended family, too. None of them are of Irish descent, but they’re all coming over for a big meal later tonight. I haven’t got the heart to tell them that I have yet to meet anyone who actually lives in Ireland who actually eats Corned Beef and Cabbage. It’s an Irish-American dish, sure.

I took a few minutes to have a hot cup of “tay” from my Irish china teacup:

And, even though they are getting too grown up for Leprechaun traps, Tom and Huck will never be too old for mischief.  They got this shirt for our dog, Molly. We got her eight years ago on St. Patrick’s Day (hence her Irish name).  We don’t ever dress her in clothes. We’re just not the sorts who think dogs need clothes, but put Tom, Huck, a holiday, and the clearance bin at Target together and here you go:

Molly, though she is a grand little dog, is not amused. You can tell by her face that she finds covering her gloriously soft fur with a t-shirt from Target to be extremely undignified.

I think that once Molly can get this shirt off, she will be quite content to sit at my feet, undisturbed by the boys, while I catalogue the recent acquisitions this week.

See you at the book fair!

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Chapter 711 More Scholarship Opportunities For Those Wishing To Further Their Bookish Education

I am pleased to tell you about two scholarships which I did not mention in my previous post about the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, Rare Book School, and California Rare Book School.

First, you are probably aware from reading previous blog posts here that my very own mentor, Mr. Z of Tavistock Books, is a bookseller who has been very generous to me and to many other new booksellers with his time, with his advice, and even with his reference book library.  He has even offered a free, annual Reference Book Workshop for many years.  He has been generous because he wants to see those truly interested in learning the antiquarian bookselling trade become great booksellers.  To that end, Mr. Z is, for the first time, offering the Tavistock Books Educational Scholarship. From the Rare Book School website:

The Tavistock Books Educational Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship opportunity that is available to all antiquarian booksellers interested in taking Joel Silver’s course, “Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books” (L-25), at RBS in Charlottesville, Virginia. One Tavistock Scholarship will be awarded in 2012. Preference will be given to individuals in the early stages of their careers and to those who would not otherwise be able to attend RBS without scholarship assistance.

To apply for the Tavistock scholarship, please submit a 2012 summer application to RBS no later than 16 April 2012. In a cover letter, discuss your reasons for applying for the scholarship to attend “Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books”; please include a brief description of your work in the antiquarian book trade, financial needs, and other relevant information. While not required, a recommendation letter from an ABAA member to accompany the application would be beneficial. Scholarship applicants will be notified of decisions by 30 April 2012.

The Tavistock Books Educational Scholarship is only available for “Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books” during the 23—27 July 2012 session in Charlottesville, Virginia.

If you’re reading this, Mr. Z, thanks so much for all you’ve done for me and for many other antiquarian booksellers who are learning the trade! We all appreciate it!

The second scholarship opportunity is offered by the Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABAA). That just so happens to be the chapter to which I was recently elected Secretary.  As such, it’s my job to make sure people know about the George Kane Memorial Scholarship.

George Robert Kane Memorial Scholarship

Application for Summer/Fall 2012

In memory of long-time member George Robert Kane (Oct. 6, 1913 – Nov. 28, 2009), the Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America announces the availability of an Educational Scholarship. In the interest of promoting professionalism and education relevant to the antiquarian book trade, persons currently working in or actively pursuing a career in the book trade are especially encouraged to apply. The Scholarship will pay tuition cost (to $1,200) for participation in a course of study offered by the following programs in the Summer/Fall of 2012:

California Rare Book School (Los Angeles)

Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (Colorado Springs)

Rare Book School (Charlottesville, Virginia)

Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., May 11, 2012. The NCC/ABAA will notify scholarship applicants of its award decision via email by May 25, 2012. Scholarship applications may be submitted via an email attachment to the Chapter Secretary, Chris Lowenstein, at chris@bookhuntersholiday.com or by regular mail to Chris Lowenstein, Chapter Secretary, c/o Book Hunter’s Holiday, 3182 Campus Drive #205, San Mateo, CA 94403.

To apply for the NCC/ABAA Educational Scholarship, please provide the following:

•            A completed copy of the application form.

•            A personal statement or essay (no longer than two pages) in which you describe your past or current experience in the world of rare books, your goals for the future, and what you hope to gain from the studies afforded by this scholarship.

•            Professional references or letters of recommendation are welcome, but not required.

To request an application, please contact Chris Lowenstein/Book Hunter’s Holiday at:  chris AT bookhuntersholiday DOT com.

What are you waiting for? If either of these scholarships might help you, go ahead and apply! You’ll never know if you don’t try.

See you in the stacks!

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