Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Mighty Rain Dampens the 2014 Brattleboro Book Fair

A jewel box location, glittering book offerings, autumn leaves nearly at peak and a tie-in with a four-day literary festival were a powerful combination, but not enough to overcome torrential rains at the Vermont Fall Book Fair this past Saturday at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.

Jeff Bergman was there with a stellar selection of modern firsts, signed books and photographs and a great collection of books about books and bookseller memoirs, (though he told me the "really great stuff" doesn't go on the road with him. Can only imagine those biblio treasures.) I couldn't resist a shot of "The Bankrupt Bookseller" (the orange jacketed book) and the troika of the Lone Ranger, Roger Maris and Hillary Clinton.

My fellow 2014 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar buddy Charles Schmieg of Black Paw Books came to Fair. He ended up with an interesting inscribed chess book and since we were both still buzzing with book energy from our CABS experience, we talked about the book business and our plans for quite some time. Charles is the taller one.

Patricia McWilliams of Hermit Hill Books in Poultney, Vermont had a terrific display of fine bindings and interesting titles. Her shop is just across the New York border from Granville, the "Slate Capital of the World" and is worth a trip if you are in our neck of the woods. Patricia reported great sales this summer and let's hope the trend continues.  That's Patricia on the right mulling over her final display, with Lizz Young on the left. Lizz is a specialist bookseller who sells books about food, drink and the domestic arts, and her stylish display is shown below. She really utilizes height and unusual shelving accents to punch up her book displays and I will be trying to incorporate these aspects in my own configurations for future book fairs. Lizz also has one of the most interesting and erudite book blogs, so be sure to check that out.

On the subject of effective book fair displays, my book booth neighbor John Hess of Catamount Books in East Arlington, VT, has had great success with his self-constructed shelves that allow for the more attractive bindings and jacket art to be faced out. John reports that since he started using these shelves, he brings fewer boxes of books but sells more! Now that's something any bookseller's back and shoulders can appreciate. I forgot to capture an image of the shelves in all their book-loaded glory during the Fair (and you would have seen the spaces where books had been sold), but here's a fuzzy photo of them just before John packed them up.

New Hampshire bookseller Michael Daum was busy pricing up some of his stock when I strolled by his booth, so I didn't disturb him, but he is one of the most approachable bookseller colleagues I have met at the Vermont and Albany book fairs. Michael also has one of the best bookseller voices in the business: a rumbling, smoky-toned baritone with lots of New England Yankee inflections. And then there's his beautiful books...

My own book wares, a colorful mix of colorful older children's books, New England history, art, antiques and a few of my better books, were designed to appeal more to the walk-in crowd than my fellow book dealers. Unfortunately, the unzippering of the clouds with two months of long overdue rain timed to drench the world directly after the Brattleboro Fair opened took care of those crowds and the book fair attendance was quite thin. I still consider the Fair a success, because I did buy and sell from some of my colleagues, and I learned quite a bit from chatting with them and observing what kinds of books they brought, but here's hoping the Albany Antiquarian Book Fair on Sunday, October 19th at the Albany Institute of History and Art will be a less soggy af-FAIR.

No comments: