There and Back Again: a New York Book Fair Tale by Vic Zoschak

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New York, New York… a hell of a town!

So you have now attended your… what, 27th New York ABAA fair? How does it feel?

Well, perhaps not quite that many, but have gone, either as an exhibitor, or as an attendee, pretty much every year since becoming an ABAA member in 1995.  I haven’t exhibited at the fair since sometime in the early 2000s [2005?], so the last decade has been as a shopper, and like years past, some wonderful things were on exhibit, and I even brought home one or two!

 

What was different about the New York fair this year as opposed to years past?

In my experience, the New York fair has been a strong fair for a good while now, considered by most members to be the Association’s flagship event, and, in my view, this year continued that trend.  The Armory, at 66th & Park, is a lovely location, and perfect size, for our book fair.  We have an international, cosmopolitan exhibitor base, and as a result, the same is true of the fair visitors/shoppers.

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       Photo credit: John Schulman of Caliban Books

Does it make any difference when you walk about knowing that by this time in a two years you will probably, if tradition holds, be President of the ABAA?

Well, to some degree, for in my opinion, that position shoulders a bit more responsibility for the continued viability of the Association.   And the association faces a change of venue for the fair, either beginning next year, or perhaps in 2018, and so there is the uncertainty associated with a move to a new locale.  Will it be as successful?  We will assuredly do our best to ensure it is, but sometimes the capricious hand of fate doesn’t necessarily embrace your vision of what you hope will be.


What was the most interesting item you laid eyes on?

Oh my, that’s so difficult to pick just one, however, since I have it in front of me as I write this answer, I will say I bought one of the most interesting things I saw-  the first miniature book published in Ohio [1815].  According to Rare Book Hub, one hasn’t been on the market since 1964.

What was the neatest item you purchased, if different from the above?

In addition to the miniature described above, I bought a collection of 50+ British broadside ballads, mainly 19th C.  While individually they’re not particularly uncommon, to come across a cache of this number is decidedly so, and I just couldn’t resist.  It will be fun to research the individual titles, hopefully with a few or more ending up with “Not previously recorded” in the catalogue entry.

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        And here come the crowds!

What’s your usual book fair routine when you aren’t exhibiting, such as in NY or in Boston? Do you run around, eyes glued to glass cases at first…. do you saunter with a glass of wine or a manhattan and allow the items to come to you (by knowledgeable booksellers who probably brought it with you in mind, of course)?

Usually, on the fair opening, I walk the aisles to see who is exhibiting, while letting serendipity catch my eye.  During this meandering, I tend to make it a point to stop with colleagues who I know will most likely have the unusual, non-dust jacket material that I find so interesting.  This year was no different.

How were the shadow fairs?

Due to the ABAA’s annual meeting being held Saturday mid-morning, I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to get to the Getman show uptown, but did have the opportunity to visit the 2nd shadow show, across from the Armory on Lexington.  I did find a few things there, though not as much as in times past.

Did you have fun?!?!

Always!  :)

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