Notes from the NY ABAA fair and a preview of the new ABAA site
This past weekend, Stephen and I endured months of delays and canceled flights with the singlepurposed intent of attending the ABAA’s New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Sparing you the details of the voyage, and excerpts from my travel journal (although I’m sure you’d appreciate my illustrations), I’ll fast forward to the fair itself.
The main purpose of our trip was to unveil the sneak preview of the upcoming new ABAA site, field questions, and drum up a little excitement among the membership. The ABAA was kind enough to allow us to help staff their booth (thanks Susan & Annie!), along with Luke from Bibliopolis. They set aside some table space from which we were able to showcase this sneak preview screencast of the new ABAA site. For those who don’t already know, Biblio.com and Bibliopolis are working together cooperatively to provide the ABAA with a new e-commerce site, scheduled for launch this summer (yes, the same partnership that brought you Bookhound bookstore software for free!). Reception among the membership was really positive, and we’re all very excited to be working together to serve the membership this way. But, enough on that – you want to know about the fair itself….
Similarly to the past couple fairs – Boston and SF – the turnout seemed to be moderate – the walls weren’t exactly swelling, but they definitely weren’t echoing your footsteps back to you either. Depending on who you talked to, sales were still weaker than years past, but there nonetheless. The big difference to me was the “vibe” of the fair among the dealers. Maybe it was just the gorgeous spring weather on Sunday that just brings out the silly optimist in me, but I could swear dealers were collectively feeling better than I’ve noticed over the past couple of fairs. Sort of a Zen-like peace and a patient serenity about the whole economic samsara.
I enjoyed the chance to talk at length with a few dealers I’ve known for awhile, but also a chance to meet some new folks. I also had a chance to finally meet face to face with Sergio Malavasi, who is our gracious head of Marelibri, a terrific new book search coop that includes independent, professional listing services such as Maremagnum (Italy), prolibri (Germany), Antiqbook (Netherlands), livre-rare-book (France), uniliber (Spain), and, of course Biblio.com (primarily North America – for the moment: watch for our upcoming UK site in a few weeks!). All of these sites are either cooperatives or independently owned and operated by either current or former booksellers, so this is a great way to support independent businesses who actually know a little something about books (as opposed to the large megacorp bookselling/widgetselling sites). If you’re an avid user of price comparison engines such as Bookfinder or AddALL, please consider supporting Marelibri as an alternative meta search site for high quality books that wholly supports the independent book community around the globe.
Oh, and we had a chance to visit Argosy Book Store for a little bit (a first for me) – that’s one terrific store if you’re ever in midtown. Make sure to take the elevator up to their map floor. Wow.
No fair would be complete, of course, without spending some time enjoying the things we all came out to see! I really meant to take BUNCH of photos to share, but how hard is it for a kid in a candy shop to be anything other than active, kinetic connaiseur (and consumer)?