Friday, December 3, 2010

Albany Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair, Nov. 28, 2010

Last week I hopped on over to the 36th Annual Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany. I hadn't attended the Fair in many years and was pleased to see so many colleagues and new book buddies busily chatting up their books, prints and paper items with a steady crowd, despite the fact that the Fair was scheduled on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, a time when many prospective book buyers might be on the road visiting family.

My colleague Peter Luke of New Baltimore, NY, was in attendance. Peter often frequents our shop looking for Americana and ephemera and had a wonderful book of 19th century color lithograph fruits and vegetables on display.

Cooperstown, NY bookseller Will Monie was on hand with his delightful wife, and they were doing a brisk business selling and buying books at the Fair. Will Monie Books naturally specializes in books and other items about baseball, though both his open shop and online bookstore carry a wide range of titles. (Pardon my fuzzy photo, this cute couple looks much sharper in person).

My next stop was to the unnecessarily camera-shy booth of Lyrical Ballad Bookstore sellers John and Jan DeMarco. They reported that they had been doing a brisk business at the Albany Fair and had just gotten back from a successful Boston Book Fair as well. The Lyrical Ballad booth had some gorgeous books on display, and you can see that they were catching the attention of several other book browsers.

Richard Mori of Mori Books in New Hampshire was doing his best Kilroy Was Here impression for me. Richard's a delightfully enthusiastic colleague who had a gorgeous display of children's books, illustrated books and paper items. Here he is below with two great finds that he purchased at the Albany Fair from another dealer, signed copies of Alice M. Brock's books "My Life as a Restaurant" and "The Alice's Restaurant Cookbook".

And here's Richard again with another gorgeous Albany Book Fair acquisition, a Folio-sized 1849 volume, "The Rhododendrons of Himalayan Sikkim", by J.D. Hooker, festooned with gorgeous hand-colored illustrations of the flowering plants.

And finally, we see my neighbor and book colleague, Edie Brown of Owl Pen Books in Greenwich, New York. Edie's in profile in the photo below and yours truly is wearing the fuzzy burgundy jacket. Owl Pen Books has two barns chock full of great books nestled deep in the hill country of Washington County. You should check them out when they are open again May 1, 2011.

I had a great time browsing the beautiful books on display and found a few treasures for myself and for the shop on my visit. Will be back next year for sure!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saratoga Postcard Book Signing with Author Tom Wood

We are delighted to be hosting a book signing with local author Tom Wood at Old Saratoga Books on Saturday, December 4th from 1 to 3 pm. Tom's new book is "Saratoga (Postcard History)" and features antique postcard scenes from throughout the Town of Saratoga, including our little village of Schuylerville.

We will have copies available for sale at this event but if you are unable to attend, feel free to contact us ahead of time to reserve a signed copy to pick up later on. This book costs $21.99.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Art at the Albany Airport

It was alternately delightful and maddening to see some artwork made from books when I was recently at the Albany (International!) Airport. "The Imaged Word" exhibition is currently on display in third floor Airport Gallery until January 9, 2011 and can be viewed daily from 7 am to 11 pm.

There were some cool paintings modeled after vintage paperback covers...

And this obsolete reference volume hanging with its guts falling out over the gallery staircase...

This photograph of artfully arranged antique schoolbooks made me wince.
And made my spine hurt.

This artwork of beetle and scorpion cut out from otherwise undamaged and still relevant photography seemed like wanton destruction of two good books. There are certainly many other crappier books that could have been sacrificed to the insect art gods.

Phrases from a poem adorned the surfaces of these decorative objects.

A book arch of unjacketed books by Aaron T. Stephan, entitled "Building Bridges", was fun to inspect up close. I couldn't make out any of the titles as no spines were facing out. This certainly takes the wind out of my sails about my sometime-in-the-future project to construct something similar out of the 50+ copies of Robert James Waller's overpublished bestseller "The Bridges of Madison County" that reside in a corner of our store basement.

Artists in "The Imaged Word" exhibit include Fern Apfel, Gabe Brown, Gayle Johnson, Paul Katz, Scott McCarney, Amy Podmore, Fawn Potash, William Ransom, Aaron T. Stephan, Robert The, and Barbara Todd. It's well worth checking out the exhibition if you find you are waiting for a delayed flight. The Airport Gallery is on the public side of the terminal, soif you are a passenger you would need to inspect it before you take off your shoes and get super-scanned by airport security.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chronicle Autumn Leaves Book Fair 2010

Tethered as we are to our open shop, most weekend book fairs and festivals can't pry us away, but this year I was determined to participate in The Chronicle's Autumn Leaves Book Fair in nearby Glens Falls which took place this past Sunday, November 7th.

I had heard so many positive things from customers and book folk about how the Book Fair had really grown and had such a diversity of local authors, publishers, booksellers (including our favorite independent new bookseller, Red Fox Books) and other participants and the reality met my expectations. There was a nice crowd in attendance, lots of readings and demonstrations by Book Fair participants and the Chronicle and hotel staff were lovely to work with. There were some stellar authors participating in the Book Fair too, including Joseph and Jesse Bruchac, David Pitkin, Bruce Hiscock, Joseph Peck (a Schuylerville fave!), and James H. Kunstler.

Husband Dan manned the bookstore while my teenage daughter/book slave and I packed up a small percentage of our books and sallied forth to the lovely and historic Queensbury Hotel to set up early Sunday morning. Amazingly, I was able to stuff six folding wooden bookshelves, twelve milk crates full of books and a few boxes of assorted supplies* into the back of my antiquarian Jeep Cherokee and we spread out our wares.

This was my first experience selling books outside the shop but I thought regional authors and history would sell well (they were actually our "midlist" sellers). I also packed up a smattering of art, music, cookbooks, children's books, some novels and an assortment of non-fiction. At the last minute I popped in several books on hot air balloons because of the popularity of the Adirondack Balloon festival and they sold out. Next time I would obviously bring more ballooning books (and maybe some planes, trains and automobiles) and would bring more older children's books and books about art, music and popular culture, as these were strong sellers.

I would also bring fewer books, but face more out, as they disappeared at a much more rapid rate. My lumbar region would have thanked me had I refrained from filling the bottom two shelves of each wooden bookshelf. Nobody even noticed any book that was below waist-level anyway.

And next year I would bring a big sign with "Old Saratoga Books, Used and Rare Books" on it to pin to that big white space in front of our table or display prominently. The bookmarks and pamphlets didn't grab people's attention readily and I was constantly being asked who I was and what my booth was about. I was also asked if I was the Autumn Leaves Bookstore as "Autumn Leaves" was more prominently on my Chronicle-supplied name tag.

A framed picture, or maybe several pictures, or maybe even a poster of Sam the Bookstore Cat would also be an attention-getter and conversation-starter. He certainly has his fans! I recognized a few customer faces and would explain that we were Old Saratoga Books, in Schuylerville, and would get blank stares until I mentioned our handsome gray and white cat-in-residence and then there would be smiles of recognition and effusive inquiries after his health.

I was delighted to see my friends Victoria and JoAnn manning a used book table as Those Three Women (okay, so there was only two of them; their books were still cool to peruse). Here's a shot of their shelves at the end of the day when they had sold quite a bit of their inventory. I picked up a great 1940s cocktail book, a cookbook or two, some local history titles and assorted other books from them, and then they threw in that snazzy Lake George Steamboat Company hat from the photo so it is now adorning my nautical section back at the shop.

*Essential book fair supplies include a couple of blank notebooks, bookmarks, pamphlets, pens, bottled water, plenty of monetary change (I have a great fake book to house it in), calculator, plastic bags, a couple of funky bookends, lots of utilitarian metal bookends, coffee cups to hold the bookmarks, blank index cards (for making quick shelf signs), etc.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to Accessorize with a Moose

A great book on wilderness skills came into the shop last week and I thought I would share the details with you.

The book is titled Wilderness Hunting and Wildcraft, with Notes on the Habits and Life Histories of Big Game Animals by Townsend Whelen (Marshallton, DE: Small Arms Technical Publishing Co, 1927). This interesting book features many photographs and illustrations by the author, a larger-than-life outdoorsman, who, like Teddy Roosevelt, came from a patrician background and was a spindly lad, later blossoming into a hale and hearty wilderness adventurer after a course of self-improvement in the American and Canadian forests. He was a soldier in the Spanish-American War and served as a Colonel in the 29th Infantry Regiment guarding and mapping the Panama Canal Zone and surrounding rain forest. He was never happier than when he was by himself in the woods, hunting (and sustaining himself on) big and small game, tinkering with guns and ammo and writing his experiences up for his many published articles and books.

This volume contains chapters about various game animals, clothing and personal kit, how to make camp beds and shelters (Whelen preferred a lean-to) , rifles, marksmanship, photography and the physical preparation needed to survive extended wilderness outings in all manners of terrain. There are many wonderful photographs of wildlife, dead and alive, and of Whelen posed with various beasts and portions thereof, including a splendid shot of the author with a bull moose head and scalp on his shoulders, "a heavy and awkward load of from 125 to 175 pounds".

The book is listed on our bookstore website for $100.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A New Upstate New York Used and Rare Booksellers Pamphlet

The used and rare booksellers of Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties in upstate New York have just published a directory of open shops and other independent booksellers. This pamphlet is now available in member bookshops and at various libraries, visitor centers and other locations. The directory lists shop hours, contact information, bookseller specialties and other information for eleven area booksellers.

To download and print your own copy of this 2010 directory, you can visit the links below or to get a copy by mail, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Old Saratoga Books, 94 Broad Street, Schuylerville, NY 12871.

Page One of Booksellers Directory

Page Two of Booksellers Directory

Happy book hunting!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Books Read in 2009

Last January I started to keep track of the books I read and in 2009 I surprised myself by reading more than I thought. Somehow, in the reading times squeezed in before falling asleep in mid-chapter in my cozy bed, while waiting for children to emerge from soccer practice and the few decadent days in which I devoured a whole book because I simply had to (and one day when I had a major head cold), I managed to read 71 really good books.

2009 was my Year of the Italian Mystery. I plunged into Donna Leon's excellent Venetian mystery series featuring the philosophical Guido Brunetti and finished the year by discovering the late Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series, featuring another Venetian-born, but peripatetic, Italian police detective. Brunetti is grounded by his morality, his learned wife, interesting children and aristocratic in-laws. Each Leon novel explores a different social issue, from illegal immigration to environmental pollution. Dibdin's detective is a more complicated, existential guy who wanders the Italian peninsula in various police roles, dodging the Mafia, his mother, his lady friends, and demanding bosses. Some of the Zen novels are comic farces, while others remain as hard-boiled as a 20-minute egg.

I attempted to join a few Reading Challenges to expand my predilection for mysteries, and was able to complete one, a Books About Food Challenge, in which I read and reviewed 4 non-fiction books about food, including titles about absinthe, chili, Jordanian-American food and Vietnamese-American food. My intentions to complete the Science Books Challenge were well-intentioned, and I did read and review two very interesting natural history books about ravens and extinct deer for this challenge, but while I did read several other science books, I just never got around to posting a blog review, so this challenge remained incomplete. My self-dictated intent to read more classic literature also went by the wayside in 2009, as only Willa Cather's "O Pioneers" made it to the top of my reading pile.

I did have some fun with an online book club that two other bloggers and I started, the Cook the Books Club. To date, our little band has read seven different novels, children's books, memoirs and other books about cooking and food and every other month we have a roundup of participants' blog reviews and dishes inspired by our reading. We have been fortunate to have many of our featured authors serve as guest judges for our friendly competition to snatch the coveted Cook the Books winner badge for our blogs and it has been a great deal of fun.

I also notice that I have done a great deal of armchair travel in the last year. Aside from traveling around the Italian city-states with Dibdin and Leon, I explored 19th century San Francisco and China, backpacked around various geographic outposts, hit several Caribbean islands, and wandered around Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ireland, 1960s-70s Czechoslovakia, Mexico City, Mount Everest, France, and New York City in various eras.

Here's the complete list of what I read in 2009:

The Language of Baklava: A Memoir, by Diana Abu-Jaber

Ravens in Winter, by Bernd Heinrich

A Noble Radiance, by Donna Leon

Fatal Remedies, by Donna Leon

Friends in High Places, by Donna Leon

Wilful Behaviour, by Donna Leon

Sea of Troubles, by Donna Leon

Uniform Justice, by Donna Leon

Doctored Evidence, by Donna Leon

Suffer the Children, by Donna Leon

Through a Glass Darkly, by Donna Leon

Blood from a Stone by Donna Leon

Crazy in the Kitchen: Foods, Feuds, and Forgiveness in an Italian American Family, by Louise DeSalvo

The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in San Francisco, by Marilyn Chase

A Bowl of Red by Frank X. Tolbert

Absinthe: Sip of Seduction: A Contemporary Guide, by Betina J. Wittels and Robert Hermesch

Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

Boswell's Clap and Other Essays: Medical Analyses of Literary Men's Afflictions, by Dr. William B. Ober

Untangling my Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto, by Victoria Abbott Riccardi

Does This Mean You'll See Me Naked? by Robert Webster

A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean, by Gary Buslik

The Extinction Club, by Robert Twigger

Marco Polo Didn't Go There, by Rolf Potts

Finding Ireland: A Poet's Explorations of Irish Literature and Culture, by Richard Tillinghast

A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean, by Gary Buslik

The Epicure's Lament, by Kate Christensen

A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict, by John Baxter

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

World of Pies, by Karen Stolz

The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, by Sven Birkerts

The Twelve Little Cakes, by Dominika Dery

Evolution of Vertebrate Design, by Leonard B. Radinsky

In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant

The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge

The Last Chinese Chef, by Nicole Mones

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time, by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin

The Food Taster, by Peter Elbling

Heat, by Bill Buford

No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late, by Ayun Halliday

The Sunday Tertulia, by Lori Marie Carlson

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants, by Robert Sullivan

Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress, by Debra Ginsberg

Why We Hurt: The Natural History of Pain, by Frank T. Vertosick, Jr., M.D.

Why We Run: A Natural History, by Bernd Heinrich

Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David, by Artemis Cooper

Surviving the Extremes: A Doctor's Journey to the Limits of Human Endurance, by Kenneth Kamler, M.D.

Deceptive Clarity, by Aaron Elkins

A Glancing Light, by Aaron Elkins

Confections of a Master Closet Baker: A Memoir, by Gesine Bullock-Prado

Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home, by Kim Sunee

French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew, by Peter Mayle

Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales, by Jake Halpern

Darwin, Then and Now: The Most Amazing Story in the History of Science, by Richard William Nelson

The Movement of the 400 Pueblos of Veracruz, by Victor Allen

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, by Mark Kurlansky

Ticknor, by Sheila Heti

Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America, by Ann Powers

The Death of an Ardent Bibliophile, by Bartholomew Gill

Ratking by Michael Dibdin

Vendetta, by Michael Dibdin

Cabal, by Michael Dibdin

Dead Lagoon, by Michael Dibdin

Cosi Fan Tutti, by Michael Dibdin

A Long Finish, by Michael Dibdin

Blood Rain, by Michael Dibdin

And Then You Die, by Michael Dibdin

A Taste for Adventure: A Culinary Odyssey Around the World, by Anik See

Walking a Literary Labyrinth: A Spirituality of Reading, by Nancy M. Malone

Arthur & George, by Julian Barnes

Ex-Libris, by Ross King

If I had to pick my favorite reads, I would have to say that my favorite novel would be Peter Elbling's "The Food Taster", an earthy romp through Renaissance Italy. My favorite non-fiction title was Diana Abu-Jaber's memoir "The Language of Baklava", about growing up with a Jordanian father and American mother around snowy Syracuse in the 1960s-70s.