We just returned from the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. If you were there, you know what an amazing experience it is… dealers from all over the world with every kind of rare book imaginable. The whole fair is like candy for the eyes. Its like the most wonderful museum of book history.
As a dealer of mostly modern literature, we of course, may have our own biased opinion, but I just read the following unbiased review of the fair and thought I’d share part of it here, as it appears that others are also of the opinion that modern literature is on the rise.
While a few dealers complained of slow starts, low attendance, and lack of excitement, the general consensus was of a successful 2010 New York Antiquarian Book Fair for all.
Strange difference in perception. Virtually every dealer of modern material that I spoke to expressed positive degrees of success, good crowds, and buzz.
On Saturday, I often had to elbow my way down the aisles. The floor of the Park Avenue Armory, site of the Fair, was alive. It’s annoying when I can’t talk to colleagues because they’re involved with buyers. And buyers there were. As often as not, colleagues, politely or otherwise, invited me to get lost, they’re busy. The bum’s rush has never been so pleasantly received and welcome.
But many of those specializing in higher end antiquarian material were not quite so pleased, did not feel electricity in the atmosphere, yet were happy to not have experienced the trauma felt at recent rare books fairs past; they did okay. They’re never happy.
Once again, the refrain from this group was that things ain’t what they used to be. News flash: They never are. Those in the trade who can’t let go of past memories when everything sold will remain disappointed into the future. “Past is prologue” may be true but past will likely become afterword as epitaph if golden-age memories remained enshrined. If there ever was a time of easy money in the trade, it’s gone along with the gentleman bookman wishing to remain unsullied by commerce. Everyone has to work for the money now. It’s a hustle to find fresh material and buyers. But it can be done.
I continue to be impressed by dealers relatively new to the trade or ABAA-sponsored book fairs, and long-established dealers with vision. Eyes focused on the future, they are finding imaginative ways to present their books, often finding a new spin, twist or angle of relevance to material in standard genres of collection, and often in emerging subject areas, but all “modern.”
The trend toward “modern” rare books that appeal to a new generation, that hold personal significance, that they were raised with and are thus meaningful is gaining further momentum. Dealers who ignore this reality do so at their own risk. There will always be room for the great antiquarian books but the room has gotten smaller.
So, thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth at the fair, whether it was to browse, buy, or chat. We enjoyed it all and we hope you did as well.