The ABAA Fair In San Francisco - a success

- by Bruce E. McKinney

Abaafair2013_1

Opening day at the book fair

The ABAA, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, completed their 46th California Book Fair on February 17th and has now decamped for homes, offices and shops across the globe.  They will next meet in New York in April for the New York Book Fair, their most important event in 2013.  The San Francisco fair was well attended.   According to Molly E. Glover of Winslow & Associates, agents for the ABAA, attendance was 4,303.

John Crichton, of Brick Row Book Shop, ABAA member and former president, as well as past president of the Book Club of California, when asked about the recent fair, was very upbeat.

“The show had a great feel.  There were new faces and lots of institutions, people happy to be here.  Access to rare books in shops anymore is almost non-existent. At this fair we see the audience that used to buy in shops come out.  It’s gratifying.  It’s where we meet the committed.”

Michael Hackenberg, Book Fair Chair for some dozen years, added “I was exceedingly happy.  Feedback was very good, dealer to dealer sales brisk.  I brought interesting material and much of it found new homes.”

This year for the first time exhibitors could obtain guaranteed locations for a 15% premium and all premium locations were taken.
  

The number of exhibitors was down, to about 220 this year versus 235 two years ago [this is an every other year event].  The difference was mainly in European participation.

James Bryant of Carpe Diem Fine Books, both a fair committee member and show participant said he had a great show.  “From year to year you never know.”   He also mentioned that the buying was very good.  “With shops closed the fair has become a destination for sellers.  They have fewer options.  We saw a lot and purchased quite a bit.”

About the attending audience he offered, “we were pleased, very pleased, that we got a younger crowd.  For the field to have a future we have to have new blood.”

In the same vein - John Howell, of Los Angeles, exhibited for the first time.  He brought a mixture of Fine Press and Artist’s Books, Californiana, Books about Books, Miniature Books, and early printed leaves that reveal the history of book production.  “Almost every category sold well, to both younger and older buyers.  Sales to the public, institutions, and other dealers were brisk.  I couldn’t be happier.”