Monday, December 15, 2014

Putting the Book Back in Bookselling

My favorite thing about IOBA (Independent OnlineBooksellers Association) is the chat line. On the chat line I learn over and over how diverse a business this is. Here's a fairly typical string in which IOBAns help each other sort out a problem: 
...I thought I had figured out a way to up the prices by a fixed amount in Excel. The problem was I ruined all the 978 ISBNs and didn't even realize it for a few months. It seems BookHound uses some kind of equation in the ISBN field, which I guess helps with the 10-digit, 13-digit conversion. When the .txt upload files are opened in excel all of the ISBNs are lost and the listing upload with the equation parameters because that is now filling the ISBN field...
...No, you didn't do anything wrong. Turns out, I didn't go far enough. When opening a CSV file, Excel automatically converts things that look like numbers into numbers. Then, it applies its built in maximum for turning long numbers into scientific notation...
...I was able to revert the numbers to the 13-digit numbers and delete the original isbn column without losing the numbers. Turned out that they reverted back when I re-opened the files... I’m just going to use AOB. I’m not enthusiastic about having to remember to manipulate the isbns every time I upload books, which is generally every day. It was hard enough remembering to up the prices manually and I often forgot...
This is one of IOBA's great virtues. It is a forum where booksellers can compare experiences, hash out important issues, and help one another deal with problems.  
Another recent discussion concerned Amazon, eBay, ABE, and individual websites, and which venue was best, in the long run, for sales. There was a strong faction favoring eBay, including one fellow (who sells commercial book software as a sideline) opining that, "There is no question that eBay is the selling site for the future." No one seemed to really like Amazon and its increasingly difficult and unresponsive interface, but for many it was a strong source of sales. Then, of course, there was a vocal minority who touted the virtues of the proprietary website, reminding us once again that we are INDEPENDENT Online Booksellers, and how independent can we be if we depend on eBay, ABE or Amazon to sell our books?  
These questions are of great interest to me, but sometimes I become disoriented. The impassioned arguments about the practices of our trade seem to deal chiefly with market share, sales percentages vs. cost, ease of uploading text and images, and procedures for altering such variables as price and shipping cost. I understand that these are important issues for any business. But it often seems we could just as well be talking about plumbing supplies or shoes. 
It is worth noting that, in the ISBN conversion conversation quoted above, the noun “book” occurred only once. Even those proprietary websites that aim to provide a steady stream of sticky content revert all too often to hackneyed factoids and Wikipedia clips. Mark Twain this and Sherlock Holmes that, blah blah blah. Give me something a little spikier. For example, Garret Scott's The Bibliophagist. Consumer of Books.
Something with “book” in it, please.

On a not entirely unrelated note, I am pleased to announce that the Gibson family Christmas tree business - “Gourmet Trees” - had another successful year. We sold our stock of 100 trees in just about two weeks. My share of the profits (estimated to be in excess of $300) will be deposited in the Greg Gibson Starving Artist Writer's Shack Construction Fund, which is accumulating dough for a modest writer's shack up on the farm in Cape Breton. Crowdsourced donations are welcome.
Gibson family analysis (no, not that kind) revealed several reasons for our success:
We had a quirky, funny name, with a family backstory that made for a “sticky” brand.
This brand was efficiently marketed on social media, primarily the Celia's Flower Studio Facebook page, and by word of mouth, primarily by Celia, who knows everybody.
We owned our building and did the work ourselves, so the overhead was relatively low.
This enabled us to offer an excellent product at a reasonable price. (Trees we sold for $55 were on sale elsewhere for $75. Our profit margins were identical.)
We offered high quality, customized service in the form of a slightly drunk old guy in a red hat who would cut trees to any length, secure the purchase to the vehicle, and deliver a nonstop stream of corny jokes - “These trees are so fresh they still got birds in 'em.” etc.
I was going to write a blog about how I might apply these principles to the book business. Then I remembered that, for cultural reasons, a substantial percentage of the population feels compelled to buy Christmas trees.
The same, I'm afraid, could not be said for books.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Xmas Rant (one in an ongoing series)

Okay, it's the Christmas season.
I think I remember, from an abortive Sunday School career, Jesus telling us to suffer the little children – a tricky collision of images, that. And I recall him saying, “Blessed be the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.” And, one I spent a lot of time thinking about, “the truth shall make you free.”
But nowhere, to the best of my knowledge, did Jesus of Nazareth advise us to clog highways and box store parking lots, to roam malls like zombies in heat, or to line up outside stores at 6:00 a.m., frantic for bargains on toys. There is nothing in the Bible about getting so stressed out that we can barely be civil to one another, or about dealing with our stress by self-medicating to excess, or lashing out at our nearest and dearest, or about being so harried with money concerns and gift lists that we come to despise this season, in which we should be celebrating the passing of the darkest hour and - some would have it - the birth of a savior.
Jesus told us to give to the poor, not to shop till we drop. He told us to love one another.
I don't think there's much in the Bible about out of print books, but I'd like to write a parable, or maybe an O'Henry story, about gobbling up Internet bandwidth with variations on the 25% off sale for that “certain someone on your Christmas list.” theme. Sure, some people like to get books for Christmas; and some people, like me, enjoy giving books for Christmas. But I'll bet a vast majority of the book buying public is thoroughly sick of mistletoe draped “Holiday Specials.” (She'd better like cheap books, because that Christmas discount only applies to books under $10.) Or “30% if you buy ten!” (A box of random used books. Just what I wanted!) 
I suspect that, because book buying is such an intensely personal activity, books as gifts fall flat more often than not. In my brick and mortar retail days, sales were always better after Christmas, when customers had discharged their seasonal obligations and felt free to indulge themselves with a book or books only they knew they wanted.
Isn't it odd that we book dealers spend most of the year trying to separate ourselves from the cheesy, crass world of retail widget sales, and then at Christmastime we jump right into it without a second thought? I'm as guilty as anyone. My next catalog is called “A Holiday Sampler.” Aesthetically and intellectually, books might be in a class by themselves, but we're still book sellers, after all.
Here's a little something from Maritime List 227 - A Holiday Sampler for that “Certain Someone” on your Christmas list (more likely you than anyone else).
Anon. William the Sailor. London: Orlando Hodgson, n.d. (ca. 1840). Eight leaves of hand colored wood engravings, plus printed front wrapper. Young William leaves his stout father, 
his loving sister, and their farm for Portsmouth and life aboard a man-o-war, despite the father's warnings of a hard times ahead. 
Sis comes to visit him and they take a side trip to Scotland. Then his ship sinks and "hundreds of people drowned," But William is saved and lives among the "Indians... for many years." Finally he takes a ship home and writes to his sister and father of his adventures. But his ship sinks in a storm and the sister finds William's "cold corpse on the sea shore." 

So that's what you get, kids, for going off and joining the navy. "Thus we see the fatal effects of disobedience, and rejecting the advice of good and kind parents." With printed front wrapper bound in, giving "a list of [46] large coloured children's books... Many Others in Progress." Scarce, Worldcat showing only three libraries holding copies (It dates this item circa 1840 "inferred from Hodgson's years of activity at 111 Fleet Street address.") All in eight pretty pictures, with patronizing text. A very good copy bound in half blue morocco over marbled boards. From the library of Eugene Field, with his ownership signature. $300

Sunday, November 30, 2014

House Calls and Archives

Portrait of the artist as a young dog, circa 1967
As readers of this blog may be aware, I exited the retail “bricks and mortar” trade years ago. Sold my thousands of books, book shelves and store furniture, and settled down to life as a big shot highfalutin rare book dealer.

Almost immediately I found myself in acute distress owing to an unanticipated shortage of cash – I mean in the form of undeclared singles, fives, tens, and twenties that leaked in every day. Like any sensible retail shop owner I had depended on this trickle of green to provide for groceries, gas, whiskey, and other daily needs. Having to withdraw money from my company checking account every week to pay for this stuff seemed wrong, somehow.

The other things that stopped coming in the door (besides annoying retail time wasters and desperately needed cash), were books. I'd gotten quite used to the steady flow of material that drifted in over the transom, and the house calls that resulted from having a used book shop on a busy street. Indeed, one of the primary functions of my several shops had been to serve as billboards for people who had books to sell. When that was gone, so were they. Rare books are called “rare” because there aren't many of them. Consequently, house calls for rare books generally consist of long journeys to heft and haggle over a single ancient tome, or maybe two or three – hardly ever more than a couple of boxes.

I mention all this because I recently had a house call of the old kind – one involving 45 boxes of books. It also involved my artist friend Barry who, as you may recall from adventures previously recounted here, had inadvertently created and left behind a superb archive, a living document of the lives of a 20th century bohemian family – his own.

Well, it turned out that wasn't the only thing he left behind when he and his family moved to Greece. A couple of weeks ago I got a call for help from old friends down in Pennsylvania. It seems that 25 years earlier, Barry had deposited a huge load of books, along with hundreds of LPs and dozens of his paintings, in their barn.
Now my friends needed them gone because they wanted to renovate the barn. Barry, in Greece, had no way of removing them, and gave my friends carte blanche to do whatever they needed to do with his stash. Could I help? At least to insure they wouldn't be selling or throwing away any treasures?

I knew those books, I'd become familiar with them many years before, when I was doing shows in New York and staying with Barry and his family in Jersey City. They were good books - art, philosophy and literature - smart books. And probably, thanks to the rise of the Internet, worthless books.

No matter. I resolved to drive down there, cull the lot, take the best books back up here and put them in my wife's art gallery. 
Now at Flatrocks Gallery, "Holiday Bizarre - Where Toys and Art Collide"
Even if they didn't sell, they'd look terrific. Accordingly, I drove off at 5 a.m. last Monday morning, and was in Pennsylvania by lunchtime. I tore through the 45 boxes and departed that afternoon with 7 boxes of very nice, very smart, but essentially worthless, art and literature.
What I hadn't anticipated was how soft I'd gotten in my years away from the used book trade. My mind was still sharp. I did the sorting and evaluation at lightning speed. But on the drive north, my back stiffened up so badly that, by the time I got to my motel in Nyack, I could barely crawl out of my car. In my room I noticed that my thumb and middle finger – the book picking digits - were worn raw at their tips. And my left, book picking, hand had developed acute tendinitis, extending up my forearm to the elbow. I was a wreck.
It had never occurred to me - or if it had, I'd forgotten - that being a used book dealer is damned hard work.

But what a lovely extension of the Barry archive those books were! As well as being an index of his taste and intellectual leanings, they contained his random jottings, poems, plot cribs, photos, bits of paper, and miscellaneous ephemera - footnotes to his past life. 
Irving, Father of Barry, 1953
Some of these writings were direct and unambiguous. For example, a note on the half title of Denise Levertov's “New Poems” read, Weekend in New York beginning Friday morning the 17th. Then “Elvira Madigan” then “Hair.” Others were quirky in the extreme. In e.e. cummings' “Selected Poems” I found, Oh how most “poets” are just bad journalists. You are what you eat, boy! Or how about this one, which was sufficiently poignant to scan in the original.
This put me in mind of my first and most formative house call experience, one that predated my bookselling career. In those early days I picked the city dump in my spare time, and one weekend I came upon the contents of an entire house that had been gathered up and thrown away, with no one to claim it. Personal effects, clothing, books, letters, furniture – the works, all in a heap awaiting Monday's compacting and burial. I spent hours hunched there surrounded by the stuff of that old widow's life, reading through her letters and books. By the time I left the dump, I felt as if I'd known her. Not just the facts of her life, but who she was. Such is the power of possessions and personal effects.

On the other hand there is something inherently unintentional about many of the archives I have handled. My Pennsylvania friends hardly regarded those annoying 45 boxes as a poignant archive. To them it was more like an abandonment, a nuisance. In that sense, I suppose, every time my two year old grandson fills his diaper, he leaves an “archive.”

On a completely unrelated note, I'm proud to announce that our family business, “Gourmet Trees” is again open for business. We sold a lot of trees this weekend, many to customers who remembered from last year what an excellent product we had on offer. Celia, in her flower shop, would close the deal, then call me to come over, cut the butt of the tree off, and lash it to the purchaser's vehicle. One yuppie couple, obviously repeat customers, told my daughter how nice it was that she had once again hired “that old man from across the street” to help her. Sic transit!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Funny Business

It's a funny business. There is no accounting for why or when things come to you. Every time I buy an American whaling log, for example, I think I may never see another one again. And then...
Over the past month I've gathered, from various sources, a mind boggling stack of 18th and 19th century logbooks and sailor's journals. Not much to look at, I'll admit.
But the gravitational force of this remarkable accumulation has dragged me, like a wayward comet, from my comfortable orbit in the 21st century to the dicey seafaring days of the 1800s. The phone rings. I pick it up reflexively and then need a few seconds to remember who, and where, I am.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I've been blessed to be the temporary caretaker (that's all we ever really are) of this wonderful material, and time traveling with these sailors has been a rare adventure.
I've said this before, but it's worth repeating. From a commercial point of view manuscripts have two great advantages over the millions and millions of books competing with one another on the Internet. 

In the first place they are, by nature, unique. Each one was written by a particular person at a particular time for a particular purpose. When I put my manuscript online, baby, it's gonna be the only one out there! Secondly, manuscript items are often difficult to place in a historical context (book geek code for “figure out what they mean”) and, almost always, the handwriting requires a little effort to decipher. 
People who are time stressed, or lazy, or OCD, or legally blind, or simply less interested in manuscripts than books, tend to price such material whimsically, according to how they feel rather than what the fair market value of the material might actually be. Often this results in foolishly inflated prices. Just as often it results in a situation where someone with a little experience can buy to advantage. 

Which, aside from the fact that I am smitten with them, is why I spend all this money and time on these damned things in the first place.

As with many other things, a little experience makes the job easier. It helps to know maritime history so that we can place these items in their “historical context,” if you know what I mean. It also helps to be familiar with the conventions observed in creating these manuscripts. For example, before a journal-keeping sailor got to the narrative part of his entry, if he ever did, he would typically break the day down to “First part,” “Middle part,” and “Latter part,” using these divisions to describe the weather and its changes throughout the day. He would then say what he had to say, if anything, about where they were, or what they saw or did. Then he would close his entry with “So ends.”
This sounds simple enough, and it is. But if you are not familiar with these conventions, and if your journal keeper has, as he so often does, execrable penmanship and worse spelling, you can waste a lot of time trying to figure out whether the hen scratch representing “so ends” is an island, another ship, or a prayer. Similarly, latitude goes 90 degrees each way from the equator, and longitude goes 180 east and west from Greenwich. These sailors had a lot on their minds, or not much mind to contain that lot, and they often neglected to omit the N,S,E or W after recording their position in degrees and minutes.

I learned early on to keep a map of the globe, with latitude and longitude delineated, beside me at all times. 

Not only did it help me figure out where the ship was (Lat 15 Long 30 would put you either near Cape Verde in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, or off the coast of Brazil in the Southern Atlantic, or in the middle of Sudan or in Zambia – neither of which proud African nations would be the best environment for a ship), the atlas also enabled me to trace the progress of the ship around the globe. And a surprising number of these guys, in the most unassuming way, did circumnavigate – in leaky, pestilential ships with barbaric mates and tyrannical skippers. I used to use a giant atlas, and I still do for the image of the globe, but Google has proved to be a godsend when I need to find out if Soends” is an island.

Then there are the hundreds of specialized nautical terms written, again, in bad hand and worse orthography. Verbs like “speak” and “gam,” and all the names of “whalecraft,” not to mention parts of the ship, and slang. You get the idea. Here's where reference books earn their money.
Consider all the places a tyro might get lost. In the navy, for example (and there are a couple of lovely naval journals in this lot), it turns out that a day, for log keeping purposes, starts at noon and goes through to noon of the next day. Of course, they don't tell you this; you have to figure it out for yourself. Many years ago, after discovering for the nth time that some key battle had taken place, according to the eyewitness account I was reading, a day before or after it was supposed to have taken place, I tumbled to the fact that maybe something else was going on, and that I would not be re-writing any history books.

I could ramble on about such matters for an indecent length of time. And don't even get me started about things like whale stamps (in one of the whaling logs I've been reading the keeper used six different whale stamps; in another a keeper used the biggest whale stamp I've ever seen – fully seven inches long).
But I no longer have indecent amounts of time to fritter away, and you may not, either. So here's a very brief description of one the the journals that was not written by a whaleman. It was written by a purser (the CFO aboard ship) in a US Navy ship called the Dolphin, in the 1830s, on slave patrol and then along the coast of South America. There, he and his shipmates stumbled into a rebellion that was taking place in Bahia, Brazil. Wikipedia characterizes it as, “one of the most important urban slave rebellions in the Americas, of particular note because it was the only predominantly Muslim slave revolt in the history of the New World.” This sailor, A.C. Watson, was there. And for a while last Wednesday, I was there with him.

Oh, did I mention you have to read these things?

Manuscript. Naval Purser's Journal. Kept by A.C. Watson Aboard the Brig Dolphin, 1836-1838. Sm folio. 74 pp. manuscript."The... Dolphin... was launched 17 June 1836... She sailed 6 October under the command of Lt. W.E. McKenney to join the Brazil Squadron after a short cruise on the coast of Africa. She... was employed in the waters along the Atlantic coast of South America to protect the rights and property of American citizens. She set sail from Bahia, Brazil, 17 April 1839..." - "American Naval Fighting Ships", II, p. 284. Watson's narrative vividly fills the gaps in the official account. He writes of the slave traffic in Africa, and of the English and American settlements there, as well as the native Africans, their customs, devil worship, the activities of the "krooman" boatmen in the surf, etc. In South America smallpox strikes the "Dolphin's" crew. At Bahia a rebellion is underway just as the "Dolphin" arrives, and Watson graphically describes a number of encounters as well as a terrifying night engagement in the city. He also supplies marginal glosses that serve as finding aids to his text. A riveting narrative, unpublished. About 28,000 words. Clean and legible in lined logbook, bound in calf over marbled boards. Hinges cracked but holding.$4500

Monday, November 17, 2014

Boston 2014: Rheumatology

The fair is over. I made some money. I needed it.

What else is new?

Well, for one thing, Boston's hotels have uniformly adopted a new ripoff algorithm. The moment room demand reaches a tipping point, rack rates go into overdrive. Boston was crawling with rhumatologists on book fair weekend, and demand for rooms was at an all time high. 
A couple of prominent rheumatologists, doing what rheumatologists do
These Docs don't care what they pay – they're doctors. But little people like us will suffer. I'm on the book fair committee and when our promoter, the capable Betty Fulton, announced that she'd gotten us a block rate deal at $279 per night, I was outraged. “I'll find a better rate,” I fumed, “if I have to check every hotel in Boston!” Which I did, only to find out $279 was the lowest rate available. Fortunately, while I was sputtering, my buddy John Thomson of Bartleby's Books, was working the Internet. He found us a nice little B&B not far from the Hynes, which he and his wife and me and mine enjoyed for $179 a night. Take that, chain hotels!
The line on opening night was as long as I've ever seen it, and the fair seemed busy all three days. 
Nicole Reiss presides over the annual scrum at the opening of the Brattle Book Shop booth
As usual, I got conflicting reports about business. Some folks did well; some were disappointed. I did not talk to anyone who had a really terrible fair. Maybe if you have a really terrible fair you don't talk about it.

The one new wrinkle at this year's event was the “Discovery” feature forwarded by Julie Roper of Commonwealth Promotion. This was a program in which dealers agreed to bring a number of books priced under $100. Signing up for the Discovery program got you a notice in the book fair program, a special logo next to your company name,
 and a “Discovery” sign to show interested parties where the cheap stuff was hiding.
The idea, of course, was to get young folks interested in the collecting game, and results, as was the case with income reports, were mixed. One fellow around the corner from me sold his only Discovery book to a 65 year old lady. Another colleague, with a booth full of spectacular rarities, reported no Discovery inquiries. Youngsters were probably intimidated by the bibliographic splendor. I know I was. Yet another dealer marked all her Discovery books with yellow slips of paper – but sold not a one. Despite mixed results nearly everyone I spoke with approved of the idea – at least in theory - and agreed we should keep trying. Julie Roper told me she went a little easy on the publicity this year because she wasn't sure the program would meet with a positive reception. Well, it did, Julie. And I hope other ABAA and regional fairs develop the idea, and continue to promote it.
Meanwhile, across town, the “Shadow Show” brought in its usual early morning throng. 
And I got more uniformly positive reports from dealers there than I did from dealers at the big show. The crowd seemed voracious, and the buying was good. 

The most interesting thing I bought this weekend came from the Shadow Show.
It's one volume in a series of six, published circa 1865, designed to inform Japanese people about the lives of Westerners. A dozen scenes from European and American cultures are depicted in wood engravings in that lovely Japanese style, with brief captions. The interesting thing about this pamphlet is that each scene is also described in English – pigeon English – with quaint results. 
Bound in worn blue paper wrappers with title label in Japanese. Text and illustrations lightly tanned, but clean. $1250

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Very Special Collection

A couple of weeks ago, on the Exlibris listserve, the resident genius and presiding spirit of the rare book and special collections worlds, Terry Belanger, published summaries of presentations at the “National Colloquium on Library Special Collections.” The roster of speakers featured luminaries such as Stephen Enniss (The Ransom Center), Jay Satterfield (Dartmouth), Mark Dimunation (Library of Congress); and our own Ken Lopez.

It interested me that, according to Terry's reports, these people spent a lot of time talking about archives. And it was even more interesting to hear them repeatedly asking, “What constitutes an archive?” Because, obviously, the nature of an archive has a lot to do with determining its use in a special collections setting.

I mention all this because I have recently discovered a rich and meaningful archive. The problem is, I don't know how it would be stored or cataloged or used.

Back in 1970, when the Amerikan Empire seemed to be teetering on the brink of collapse, many young people fled this country for the wilds of Canada. Such was the case with my friend Barry. He was an artist, and he had no intention of passing his days living in the land of Nixon and his ilk. After years of saving every nickel that came his way, he had enough to buy an old farmhouse on 100 acres in Nova Scotia, to which he and his wife moved in the early 1970s. Several years later my wife and infant son and I went up there for a week's visit. We were people of such importance, with such busy schedules, that our week stretched into two months.
During the time we were up there, I helped Barry build a studio on a ridge overlooking the farmhouse. We built it out of old barn parts and angle iron and lag bolts and, because we didn't know any better, we overbuilt it.

The years passed. Barry and his wife had two children, and then the marriage fell apart. He moved back to the states, married again ( to a very capable professional woman), had another child, and kept painting. The lovely, sturdy old studio building endured, and each summer he and his family drove up to Canada for the season, and with them came all the junk they'd accumulated over the past year, since there was no room to store such stuff in crowded New Jersey apartments. 

This went on for years. The kids got older; the two girls became artists. The son became an actor. When Barry and Wife Two took up permanent residence in Greece, their children were dispersed across continents. I became steward of the studio in Nova Scotia and used it as my writing camp for years.

There it sat, chockablock full of all the stuff Barry had accumulated in his early days as a painter and sculptor, and all the stuff from his first marriage, and from his ex-wife, and two girls, and then all the stuff from New Jersey - the new wife and son.
Last year Barry's oldest daughter decided she'd make the studio her permanent residence and workplace, so I moved my writing camp to my property across the road.
Then, this past summer, Barry, and his second wife returned to the US for a vacation and, with the second daughter, came up to Nova Scotia to visit the first daughter and the old studio. 
Barry descending the stairs from the Gibson Memorial Library

And what they did while they were there, besides reminisce, was sort through the mass of stuff that had accumulated over the past half century.

In fact their sorting was a very real form of reminiscence, because the stuff they were sorting was the stuff of their lives over that half century.

Files of letters from the 1960s to the 1990s provided the explanatory narrative for the clothing, household goods, furniture, books, old tools and bits of material dating back to the building of the studio, camping gear, a mound of dead cars out in the field, funky old advertising signs and interesting objects that were saved for possible inclusion in Barry's sculptures, sewing machines and acres of fabric for the fabric artist daughter's work, china and silver – hand me downs and artifacts from the second wife's family, drawings and paintings by Barry and by his two artist daughters. It was their biography, as a family, written in objects.
The Gibson Memorial Library (second floor of the studio)

The place was a living museum, and dawned on me then that it was also, in the broadest sense, an archive of enormous cultural value, documenting, as it did, the lives of a mid-Twentieth Century bohemian family. An undisturbed record of a family raised, nurtured, and enduring on the fringes of American middle class society.

I'm sure that the lives of Jasper Johns, Andrew Wyeth, and Andy Warhol will be adequately documented, but what about the lives of other artists who, though equally committed to their art, did not win international fame? Wouldn't these lives – wouldn't archives such as this one - have a great deal to tell us about the culture from which the great art of the Twentieth Century emerged?

I've spoken with Barry and his wife and the kids, and they all think it's a great idea. Now all I need to do is get Steve Enniss and a couple of eighteen-wheelers to haul the contents down to the Harry Ransom Center in Austin. There they could build a replica studio to hold the contents of the original studio, just like they did with the marvelous recreation of the painter Francis Bacon's studio in the Dublin City Gallery 
Francis Bacon's London studio, meticulously recreated

Then the original studio building in Nova Scotia would be empty, and I set up my writing camp again.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Show Wars Heat Up

In my October 20 blog entry I outlined the turf war that is shaping up between two book fair promoters, Impact Events Group and Flamingo Eventz. At that time it seemed as if Marvin Getman of Impact - by scheduling a New York Shadow Show closer to the big ABAA fair, and opening it earlier - had stolen the march on John and Tina Bruno of Flamingo.

This morning subscribers to IOBA, Rarebook, and ABAA chatlines received the following email from Garry Austin:

Recently there has been much discussion regarding the future of the “Shadow Show” to the New York ABAA Show next April. I would refer all to Greg Gibson’s (Ten Pound Island Books) October 20th blog, “Book Show Wars”. Greg has recounted much of the history of the rise of the shadow show concept and the current state of the forth coming show in New York, April next. I am very happy to announce that John & Tina Bruno of Flamingo Eventz have decided to relocate the Shadow Show to the very door of the Park Avenue Armory. The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair (“The Shadow Show”) will take place on Friday April 10, 8am-4pm at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 869 Lexington Avenue at 66th St, New York, NY 10065. The entrance to the show on Lexington Avenue is just across the street from the Armory. This move will be beneficial to the trade in several ways. The concentration of these events within two contiguous Manhattan city blocks will allow the exhibitors at the ABAA event to visit the Shadow Show effortlessly and stay longer with no need for taxis, no traffic hassles, etc. Shadow Show Exhibitors will be able to facilitate easy delivery of materials to the Armory, allowing the ABAA exhibitors to shop & run. For the Shadow Show Exhibitor, the proximity of a NYPD Precinct that will be issuing Parking Permits will enhance the Unloading/Loading process. The exhibition space is well lit and easily accessible without stairs or elevators. Exhibitors at the ABAA Show will receive an enhanced Admission Discount by wearing their ABAA Show Badge, and the visiting public will benefit from the proximity of the two shows as well. Finally, a real Win-Win situation for the trade and the book fair patron. Flamingo Eventz has retained me to serve as liaison with any ABAA member who may have logistic questions. I will be exhibiting at the Shadow Show and supporting this effort in any way that I can. 

See you in New York this April! 
Garry R. Austin Austin’s Antiquarian Books 
Wilmington, VT 
802 464-8438 
In my earlier blog entry I noted that book buyers were likely to benefit from this competition, and that the real battle would be to see which promoter could attract the most, and best, exhibitors. In that respect, at least, the situation has not changed.