“One more virtual fair? No. A new concept.”, writes SLAM, France’s antiquarian booksellers’ association and organiser of the upcoming, much anticipated Paris Rare Book Fair which takes place at the new exhibition centre, the Grand Palais Éphémère.
Over 160 French and international rare booksellers have signed up for the fair which opens in less than 4 weeks. Organisers and exhibitors alike are looking forward to welcoming bibliophiles and the international trade after a compromised year with an absence from physical fairs for many of us.
In addition to the many obstacles this year, the fair also moves to a new location due to renovations of its traditional venue (currently planned until 2024); the purpose-built Grand Palais Éphémère, a temporary structure on Champ-de-Mars Park, opposite the Eiffel Tower.
Even though the rare book trade was as disrupted by the COVID pandemic as the rest of the arts market, SLAM responded as early as April 2020 with a Virtual Grand Palais when the physical fair was cancelled. SLAM was then able to host a physical fair in September 2020 at the Grand Palais under strict hygienic rules, but also continued to offer various models of virtual fairs as additional offers to its members and their customers (via www.amorlibrorum.fr) to keep in touch and do what they love most; buy and sell and enjoy rare books even during times of lockdowns.
New contacts and expertise were gained during those months, so the SLAM board decided to make use of these new contacts and proven technology and integrate a virtual offering into the physical fair this September.
Hervé Valentin, President of SLAM comments: “If thousands of visitors will be present in September in Paris to visit the 160 booksellers of the ILAB, several thousands of others, attracted by the digital events, are also waiting impatiently for the books which, for almost a year and a half, could not be shown in good conditions. To them, and to the colleagues of the league, we propose a hybrid fair. A fair in your home, and within the fair itself.“
For this purpose, a free-access computer area will also be provided in Paris on the exhibition floor, “the e-Grand Palais inside the Grand Palais”. Everyone, virtual or in-person fair visitors will get a chance to view the objects. Visitors of the in-person fair shall be inspired to browse books online and later continue their visit from home, possibly come back to the fair, or just to keep in touch.
If all exhibitors registered for the fair in Paris are allowed to exhibit books at no additional charge, ALL ILAB BOOKSELLERS are invited to register and exhibit from 3 to 18 items in this e-Grand Palais Ephémère. "This is an exceptional and unique opportunity for all of the League's booksellers to enjoy the benefits of the first ILAB fair in over a year. For the exhibitors, it is an additional visibility to show books to even more public than the one who will be in the halls of the Grand Palais".
And finally, every booklover not able to visit the Paris fair will be able to find a wide selection of books online this year.
The in-person Paris Rare Book Fair sold out weeks ago which proves that collectors and the trade are keen to meet again. And why not combine physical fairs with virtual elements?
The 2021 Paris Rare Book Fair will run from 24 - 26 September 2021 at the Paris Grand Palais Éphémère on Champ - de - Mars Park.
This Fair is one of high standards: all exhibitors, without exception, in the “Rare Books” section are affiliates of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers and, for French exhibitors, are members of the Syndicat de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM): this century-old professional association brings together the best specialists in the field of antiquarian and collectible books, obeying a strict code of ethics and offering collectors and enthusiasts the best guarantees of authenticity and the best possible expertise in their fields. Of the 230 members of SLAM, nearly half will be present for the most beautiful event of its kind in France and one of the most important in the world, highlighting the exceptional cultural heritage of our collective memory, following the traces left by the human mind over the centuries, from the oldest works dating back to the first books to the contemporary avant-garde pieces.
To contact the SLAM office and organiser of the fair, please send an email to: slam-livre [at] wanadoo.fr
Or follow the fair's innovative social media, in particular the regularly updated Instagram feed