Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2018 Issue

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair: It’s a question of timing

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There’s probably nothing to be done about it but the timing of the New York ABAA Fair in March, a concession to business and financial realities, is simply not as good as almost any April dates.  And the reason:  weather.  March in New York is quixotic and many of the field’s principal collectors older.  The effect from year to year is small but the impact over time significant.  Warmer temperatures and good footing matter.

 

For this year’s fair a nor’easter, one of four in March no less, played dodge-em with the city.  In my case, Delta contacted me the Thursday night before my 6:00 am flight from San Francisco to New York to say I should reschedule to avoid weather delays.  I then called my hotel and my son for their views.  Both felt the risk was overstated and I caught the morning flight, arriving to an unusually empty JFK and proceeding quickly into the city.  And for the next four days the clear weather held.  I then drove upstate to get snowed in on Monday into Tuesday.

 

Certainly the New York Book Fairs are stellar, the main fair and the two shadow fairs well worth the trip.  They are the great confluence of the many threads of book collecting and will continue to dominate the field in the years to come.  But convenience and safety matter and it’s going to be more difficult to travel in March as I get older.  Whether, for anyone else it’s an issue only time will tell.

 

Certainly, the Armory is the exceptional venue for this important annual event, being large, familiar and historic.  But how to reconcile its attributes with a difficult calendar, I leave to the show savants. 


Posted On: 2018-04-01 11:57
User Name: periodyssey

Bruce, You failed to mention that the New York fairs now come right on the heals of the California fairs and one week before the Ephemera Society fair in Greenwich, CT. It is simply not good for dealers or collectors to have six important shows within a month of one another. Something's got to give! Rich West/Periodyssey


Posted On: 2018-04-01 16:55
User Name: reeseco

Bruce,
The change in dates for the New York Fair was dictated by the available times at the Armory on Park Ave. The Armory is now owned by a public charity, who uses the majority of time there for theatrical productions and the like. Most fairs which used to be there have been forced to leave; the only other Fairs now remaining are the super-high-end shows like the Winter Antique show and the TEFAF show.
I have exhibited at every New York ABAA Fair since 1975, plus some of the ILAB shows and many smaller ones in other venues. I can testify from this long experience that nothing comes close to the Armory as a venue. Our last large fair outside of it was in the Javits Center, a terrible show for everyone. But if we leave the Armory, this is the kind of places that can accommodate the Fair- the venues over on the Hudson piers, etc. If you think you were inconvenienced in getting to New York, try catching a cab over there, far from any public transport, on a rainy day.
Its not a matter of being familiar and historic (it is a matter of being large). The NY Fair, as it is, is quite simply the best and greatest rare book fair in the world. Move it to any of the available options, and I predict it will quickly be a shadow of what it is now. With all due respect to the California shows or the Ephemera show, they are a drop in the bucket to NY. My California sales have averaged about 10% of my NY sales, and my ephemera show sales about .5%, over many years.
So, if a time frame should be shifted- and I agree that the Fairs are too close now- why don't these fairs change their times? All fairs are not equal. Let's not kill the goose with the golden egg.
One final note- the effect of weather can go both ways. When the old NY Fair time was a month later, it often coincided with the first really nice weekend of spring. When that happened, people stayed away in droves. Poor weather more often brings people indoors; rich New Yorkers go to their country homes when the weather is nice. Bill Reese William Reese Company


Posted On: 2018-04-09 12:53
User Name: brucemarshallrarebooks

Thank you for your discussion over the New York Antiquarian Bookfair in the Armory.
Many of us are flying in from different parts of the world. In my case the UK and I realise that the weather can be an issue but personally, I totally agree with Bill Reese and I think this is the most important bookfair in America. I, like Bill did notice that the weekends in April, when the good weather arrived, had a serious effect on business.
Although perhaps colder in March, I also think there are more serious buyers appearing as it is just before the holiday time. I don't think we should do anything that could threaten the use of this excellent venue. Bruce Marshall, Bruce Marshall Rare Books


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