For the first time in nearly two decades I managed to personally miss the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. Now don’t get me wrong, BTC exhibited, as we have every year since the powers-that-be at the ABAA nodded off and let me in. The booth was consigned to the reasonably competent supervision of Dan Gregory and Dave Stewart (don’t even get me started about what those two rascals got up to on my dime: you guys had better return those 50 pounds of M&Ms to the Brattle Book Shop!)
This year I had to attend the wedding (or more accurately, the three-day “wedding event”) of a family friend and former employee, the exotically named Mercury Winberg to the almost exotically named Dusty Amodio. Mercury was one of the earliest of BTC’s “Summer Elves”, those are the summer employees who do all the stuff that we adults are usually too lazy to do. She spent most of one summer scanning every single book in our inventory that didn’t have an image, and that, along with her regal bearing earned her the nickname of The Scan Queen. But I digress.
Peter Stern expressed his sadness that I wouldn’t be in Boston for the fair, claiming that he wanted me to join the elaborate dinner party that he has traditionally hosted in the past. When I intimated I might be able to get away for just the one evening he promptly rescinded the invitation. In retrospect, I’m not sure he was sad at all.
Unlike last year, when the fair wore a funereal aspect in the wake of the demise of the lamented and lamentable economy, sales were reasonably good, with sales to collectors, the trade, and librarians. After careful analysis I’ve determined that the good results were either due to an increased confidence in the economy, a flight to durable goods (i.e. rare books), or to the fact that I wasn’t there to annoy customers in the booth. No need to speculate further about what the most important factor was. In any event, we’ll take it.
Next up on the BTC book fair schedule is the New Jersey Antiquarian Book Fair on December 11-12, in East Hanover, New Jersey. This is usually an amusing little event, and we always look forward to seeing such giants of the trade as the aforementioned Stern, Jim Cummins, and Gary Austin. Of course, it’s usually easiest to find them in the sports bar that adjoins the fair. Oh, yeah, and you can buy some books there too.