By Greg Gibson
Okay. Hang on to your hats. Here comes the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, presented by the ABAA. This is the Big Leagues, baby. The World Series of Book. From Thursday night through Sunday afternoon at the Park Avenue Armory, we'll be keeping company with some of the world's finest books and manuscripts – mind-bogglingly rare and valuable items - sought by collectors of inestimable wealth (those unspeakably rich folks obvious to all but known by name only to Bill Reese, Don Heald, and their Continental cohorts); representatives of Institutions of Higher Learning whose annual budgets exceed those of many African nations; young men and women of good breeding who've attended the right schools and have decided to invest family millions in ruinous antiquarian ecstasy; smiling auctioneers and avaricious dealers cruising the floor like so many leopards, attended by their pimps and minions; suave counter monkeys contentedly grooming themselves, waiting for their chance; bloated industrialists, technocrats, and financial guys for whom “to want” = “to have,” and their pimps and minions.
Yes, it's a jungle out there. A prize fight fought in silk gloves which, this year, has spawned two undercard events – satellite book fairs promoted by Impact Events Group and Flamingo Eventz, two promoters who are themselves engaged in a good old New York turf war.
And somewhere down in the undergrowth lurks Ten Pound Island Book Co. and our several dozen peers. Creatures of the field who must eat continually or starve. Wily little critters seeking crumbs left behind by the megafauna.
As you can probably tell from the overheated rhetoric, there's a lot at stake in New York this week. Dealers become dysfunctional “getting ready for the show,” expending acres of 4 mil Mylar and hundreds of thousands of Brodart jacket covers in frenzied futzing, creating mock booth arrangements that somehow never work out in practice. “This year I didn't bring anything and I STILL have too much stuff.” Bleak depression follows irrational exuberance in steadily increasing cycles of mania. We cut ourselves. We snap at our spouses and significant others. We have bad dreams. Twisted book fair anxiety dreams that don't even do us the courtesy of being about the book fair. Oh, no. We'll dream about donuts instead of books, or find ourselves trapped beneath dunes of printer ink cartridges, dying of thirst.
Then, when it's all over, regardless of the outcome, we stagger home, wrecked. That's when the zombies appear...
Next Week we'll be coming to you from Command Central at Donohue's Steak House on Lexington Ave., with full reports on the main event and ancillary book fair wars.
Posted on Bookman’s Log, presented here by permission of the author. Pictures: Bookman’s Log.
55th Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair
9 – 12 April 2015, Park Avenue Armory
VIP Preview: Thursday 5 – 9 pm
Opening hours: Friday noon – 8 pm, Saturday noon – 7 pm, Sunday noon – 5 pm
For more information please visit the official website.