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Chapter 702 Part 2 of The 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair 2012, Or, Put Me in Coach, I’m Ready to Play

You can read Part 1 of this post here.

Despite feeling a little bit discouraged about the car and home repairs when I left my house for the book fair, my eclectic music playlist helped get this ABAA rookie in a book fair state of mind.  I realized that, whether the timing was for better or for worse, I had my chance to sell books at a fair that less than a decade ago I’d been too intimidated to attend even to shop.  I realized that despite the distractions, this book fair was exactly where I had planned, worked, and wanted to be. Car and home repairs notwithstanding, now was the time to reach the goal I’d set five years ago — the goal of being able to exhibit at an ABAA fair. I was going to The Show.

I arrived in Pasadena late Tuesday, along with Thoughtful Husband, who was in the Los Angeles area on a business trip of his own. While he went to his business meeting on Wednesday, I drove out to nearby Covina to see my bookselling buddies and catalogue collaborators Brad and Jen Johnson at The Book Shop for a little pre-game book scouting. Brad and Jen, who are members of the Southern California Chapter of the ABAA and who are on the Book Fair Committee, did not disappoint. Their shop was filled with lots of great books (I left with an entire box-full), lots of other visiting booksellers (a few of them left with more than one box-full of books), and even a party tent with lunch and libations out in the back! I stayed for lunch and had a chance to see a couple more of my  cross-country catalogue cohorts — Josh Mann and Sunday Steinkirchner of B& B Rare Books (New York) and Kent Tschanz of Ken Sanders Rare Books (Salt Lake City). I also had the chance to visit with Teri Osborn of William Reese Co. (New Haven) and Priscilla Lowry Gregor of Lowry James Rare Prints and Books (Seattle). After heading back to the hotel for dinner with TH, we stopped in the hotel lounge, where we had drinks with Ian Kahn of Lux Mentis, Abby Schoolman Stevens of Bauman Rare Books, Jeff and Susan Hirsch of Jeff  Hirsch Books and a few more of the usual suspects. It was so nice to be able to finally introduce TH to some of the people he’s only heard about. We had a great time!

With Kent and Abby at the hotel lounge:

On Thursday morning, I was up early to drop off my books at the tailgate load-in. Thoughtful Husband, his business concluded, flew home to relieve my parents, who had been staying with Tom and Huck. Shortly after the load-in of many boxes of books, I entered the exhibit hall to begin setting up.

There were banners like this one all over town advertising the fair. The amount PR for the fair was amazing.  Within 24 hours of arriving, I saw one magazine article about the fair, a Los Angeles times article, an NPR report, and a bookseller who was interviewed for the local news. (Well done, Steve Gertz!)  I have never been at a book fair that was so well promoted, and like most of the 200 exhibitors at the fair, I hoped the advertising would bring a lot of customers by time the fair opened to the public on Friday night.

Once set up was finished — I actually wasn’t finished setting up. The building closed at 6:00 p.m. and I had to leave — the booksellers were invited to a marvelous reception at Pasadena’s Pacific Asia Museum. The Book Fair Committee of the Southern California Chapter of the ABAA had really outdone themselves. The reception was held in a marvelous museum with an open courtyard.  All of the exhibits were open for viewing. There were lots of delicious hors d’ouevres to eat and drinks to quench the thirst of 200 hundred booksellers who’d spent most of the day in hard physical labor preparing their booths.  The Book Fair Committee apparently even ordered up lovely weather for the reception. It was a balmy, near-70 degree evening. Here are a couple of my rather dark photos. Trust me when I say it was a beautiful event in a beautiful setting.

I looked forward to completing the set-up of my booth on Friday morning and to the opening of the fair to the public at 3:00 p.m. on Friday. Before I sign off for tonight, I have to congratulate the entire Book Fair Committee. The new venue for the fair — the Pasadena Convention Center, the very-close-by hotels, the great proximity of shops and restaurants, even the weather were all better than any of the book fairs I have ever bought or sold books at.  A job well done, Book Fair Committee!

After setting up most of my booth and celebrating with so many of my bookselling colleagues, I went sleep Thursday night feeling ready at last for my first ABAA fair. I fell asleep humming a verse from another song on my bizarre book fair music playlist, John Fogerty’s “Centerfield”:

“Got a beat-up glove, a homemade bat, and brand-new pair of shoes;
You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride.
Just to hit the ball and touch ’em all – a moment in the sun;
(crack of the bat) It’s gone and you can tell that one goodbye!

Oh, put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be Centerfield.”

To be continued with pictures from the fair itself . . . See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 691 Checking In

After weeks of mild, sunny winter weather without a drop of rain here in the Bay Area or snow in the mountains, it is finally cold and raining today. It may be mid-January, but winter has just arrived in San Mateo.  I’m cozy indoors today, and am taking a brief tea break to stop in and say hello.

I’ve been working on preparing for the February book fairs this week. Preparing starts with taking an inventory of book fair supplies.  Since I’ll be doing the fairs in San Francisco and Pasadena one right after the other, it’s crucial that I have enough supplies. If you’re not a bookseller, you might be surprised to see the amount of supplies needed for a book fair.  And if you are a bookseller, you might like to know what I recommend you bring to a book fair. The supply list I compiled was created with the help and advice of quite a few experienced booksellers, and you can see it by clicking here.

Once the supplies are ready, the next step in book fair preparation is to check each of many pieces of ephemera I’ll bring to the fairs and to make sure each piece is stored in its appropriately sized plastic sleeve and that each sleeve has a price sticker on it. Ephemera — flat, small, and easy to store, but I have a lot of it, and  pricing it can take a while!

Over the weekend, I plan to catalogue about a dozen books, recent acquisitions I plan to bring to the fair. This will be simple in some cases and will require a bit of research in others. Either way, I’m looking forward to having the weekend to work. Did I mention that both Tom and Huck’s basketball teams have a bye this week? That means no games this weekend, which means no driving kids to and fro in the car. It means that while they play with the neighbors, I can work on books (which, to me, is like play). If I’m lucky (and I think I’m pretty lucky), Thoughtful Husband may even volunteer to take on the task of cooking dinner Saturday night.

All work will temporarily be halted on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. That’s when our San Francisco 49ers will play the New York Giants to see if, after 18 long years and decades after the end of the Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Ronnie Lott, Steve Young “dynasty”, they will go to the Superbowl! Note to diehard sports fans who may read this blog:  I do not normally follow professional football, but my 11-year-old son Huck does. He’s had me watching each 49er game, and when I watch it with him, I enjoy it in a way that I hadn’t before. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite films, Rudy, and of how that little football movie inspires me in so many ways, even though I sell books instead of playing football. When it comes to following football, I am what some might call a “bandwagon” fan.  That is to say that I follow football when my hometown team is winning — much the same way I followed baseball when the Giants finally won the World Series of Baseball in 2010. Perhaps not a “true” fan in that sense of the word, but happy when my hometown teams make us proud.

See you in the stacks!

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