Thursday, 20 January 2011

California Antiquarian Bookfair. San Francisco. February 11th to 13th.

Each year, February sees many bookdealers from Europe heading for the West Coast of the US for the annual California Antiquarian Bookfair. This major event in the international bookfair calender, now in its 44th year, alternates each year between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Last year saw what was possibly the bookfair's last event to be held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City. The hotel complex is undergoing major renovation and the rumour mill in the rare book trade (sometimes compared to a baloon full of pessimistic politicans--Lots of hot air, moaning and lies) reports that us mere booksellers won't be able to afford the shiney new prices charged for their shiney new function rooms. This is a real shame for those bookdealers who, like me, enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool under the warm february sunshine. For many of the European Dealers attending this is the first proper sunlight that we have seen in four or five months. It is easy to spot the locals around the hotel. They wear sweaters and warm jackets, considering the 20 degrees  a chilly day for them. To some of the Europeans 20 degrees is an excuse to don shorts, often ill fitting swimming trunks and those sun glasses that we didn't have much use for last summer.
We await a decision about where the Los Angeles Bookfair will be held in 2012.

This year sees the bookfair taking it's turn in the huge Concourse Exhibition Centre in San Francisco. The building, at 635 Eighth street at Brannan is a vast glass, steel and wood construction covering some 125,000 square feet. An old Railway starage yard, it has been adapted to be an easy access exhibition space with easy loading, plenty of space for large display booths and its own on-site parking. The vast building is filled up by the bookfair which is the largest event of it's kind in the world. Visitors to the bookfair get a major workout walking up and down the long aisles and many return for a second or third day to ensure that they get to visit each booth. Luckily there is a good cafe area which supplies the necessary snacks and drinks to keep the determined collectors and dealers going throughout the fair.

There is always plenty for the non book buyer to do at San Francisco Bookfair. Many societies and local artisans set up tables on the upper level and you can spend your time at the fair learning about the history of the book, watching live displays of binding techniques, or getting your name written on a grain of rice or beautifully calligraphed onto a sheet of paper.
During Saturday and Sunday there are a series of book related talks, discussions and seminars, rainging from the intruductory 'Book collecting 101' to an exhibition of rare music books and manuscripts, some dating back the the 13th century.

The bookfair is open on Friday February 11th from 3pm to 8pm.
Saturday 12th from 11am to 7pm.
Sunday 13th from 11am to 5pm.

I shall be at the bookfair with a selection of my books on show at Booth 113.
Please do come by and say Hello. I'm told that I am actually a lot less scary than I look, (I think there is a compliment in there somewhere), and I promise not to wear my shorts during show hours.

If you would like complimentary tickets for the show, please do let me know and I will either post them to you or leave them on the door for you to collect on the day.


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