Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Olympia Antiquarian Bookfair 2011. To be there, or not to be there?

Summer time is almost upon us and that means that it's time for the Olympia Bookfair again.
The International Antiquarian Bookfair circuit finds booksellers converging on cities around the world at set times of the year. The California bookfair is always in February, although it does alternate each year between Los Angeles and San Francisco (even in the state of California North and South have their own agendas and view each other with some suspicion), April is split between New York early in the month and Paris at the end. June belongs to London and the ABA Olympia bookfair. Mid November means a trip to the often cold and wet North Eastern U. S. A for Boston's turn, and finally, the last few years has found booksellers enjoying the experience of December in Hong Kong. (I exhibited at the Hong Kong Bookfair two years ago. My one and only sale at the fair just about covered my taxi fare from my house to Heathrow Airport. I haven't been back).

There are other international events, but they tend to be Bi-annual, occassional, or mostly just local affairs, similar to the ABA Chelsea bookfair each November, all but 1 or 2 of the exhibitors being from the UK. On this basis, and because I don't do them, I have left them out. My blog, My rules.

Last Year the Canadian Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABAC) re-launched their own fair in Toronto during the last weekend of October, after a 15 year hiatus. This was considered successful enough to repeat again this year and looks set to become part of the calendar. I did the fair last year and was hugely impressed with the number of collectors, Librarians, Dealers and just curious onlookers that the organisers got through the door. I sold very well to many new customers and will be returning this year. Toronto is such a fun city, I would recommend anyone to visit. I had a great time and can't wait to get back there.
The bookfair last year conincided with Halloween. A night that the whole of Toronto takes very seriously, if that is the right word. I had always thought that 'Trick or Treating' and dressing up in costumes on Halloween was very much an American thing but the Canadians do it bigger, louder, and better than the US. Leaving a restaurant with fellow bookdealers we were jumped on by a group of female pirates who insisted on having their pictures taken with us. While this was going on a group of giggling girls dressed as Baywatch lifeguards (a brave move on a wintery Toronto night) was chased past us by Popeye and Scooby Do.

We retreated to the sanity of the nearest bar.

Anyway, I digress (Yeah, I know. I do it when speaking, thinking and dreaming, as well as writing).

June. London. Olympia.

This years fair is being held on the 9, 10, & 11th of June, with a charity preview being held between 2 and 4 pm on thursday 9th, in aid of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, hence the hilarious pun in the title. (As I said, It's my blog. I can do what I like).

This years fair patron is Zoe Wanamaker, who will opening the, bookfair and making a short speech. Zoe's Father, Sam, was the driving force behind establishing the re-built Globe Theatre, on the Thames South Bank, and its many educational activities. They are celebrating receipt of the fabulous John Wolfson collection of Elizabethan books and research material that was generously donated to them last year.

There are many dealers from all around the world offering all manor of items in all price ranges. The downstairs area has many stands run by allied trades and associations. I could list a few here but risk forgetting something, or someone, so I think it is probably best to just give you the address of the dedicated Olympia Bookfair website. Here you will find all the details of the whole event, and can even download free tickets for the fair.


I shall be at the bookfair. I am on stand number 62 and would welcome anyone who feels like dropping by to say Hello. I will have many new items of stock on show, including the only known signed copy of the famous 'Brown Faced' 1973 Rupert Annual. A scarce 1835 hand coloured extending Peep-show of the first Railway in Germany. A very good set of First editions of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings in dustwrappers. A very clean and tight First edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. Several scarce three decker novels from the 19th century, half a dozen of them not included in either the Sadleir or Wolff collections. Aside from these I will have the usual mixture of fine bindings, First editions, Childrens and Illustrated books as well as a mix of unusual, rare and interesting books from all ages.

See you there.