398 Reasons to Go to the New York Book Fairs March 7-10

- by Bruce E. McKinney


Three Rare Book, Manuscript, Map, Book Arts and Ephemera Fairs all over the same weekend in New York.  For those who love collectible paper and related materials this is your moment.


The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair and Fine Press Fair will take place in the exhibition space at St. Vincent Ferrer Church on Saturday March 9th for dealers to exhibit and sell their works on paper.  This show is a combination of traditional rare book and ephemera sellers with a strong contingent of book arts exhibitors, all members of the Fine Press Books Association of New York.  Most years, when I can be in New York for these fairs, I buy something in the book arts category at this fair and am always pleased.


This fair, now in its 10th year, was once the only ‘shadow’ fair over the ABAA’s New York Weekend but Marvin Getman of Impact Events brought his thinking to the ABAA weekend 5 years ago and he has slowly created a significant alternative event, his the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair.   Between these the number of this year will be 400.  Mr. Getman expects 118 exhibitors at his two day Saturday-Sunday event at the Sheraton at 811 7th Avenue, the ABAA 215 exhibitors for its 4 day event and the Saturday show at St. Vincent Ferrer 65.


These two shadow or auxiliary shows significantly increase the importance of this most important weekend for collectible paper in North America.


For those able, the best way to see these fairs is to attend the ABAA’s opening night gala on Thursday the 7th.  It opens at 5:00 pm at the Armory at 643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets on the east side.  The tickets are $60- but many collectors and institutions have access to free passes that exhibiting dealers will share.  For the shadow fairs there are various ways to get free or reduced price tickets that are cheap at twice the price.


On Saturday begin your day early and get to the Getman event at 8:00 am.  Allow 2 hours.  Material is priced and the clock is running.   Offers are encouraged and frequently accepted.  Then run, walk, bus or taxi over to the Manhattan Vintage Book Fair.  If you haven’t arranged a free or reduced price ticket, take out your wallet and take the plunge.  A good cup of coffee in the Big Apple can cost you more.


At noon on Saturday the ABAA fair opens for its third day.  If you didn’t scoop up the Gutenberg leaf on opening night, it may be that no one else has either and if not, seller optimism confronting third day reality may weaken pricing resolve just a little.  If you’re serious you can always ask.


The dealers on the floor in the ABAA show will be tougher with their very valuable and unique stock, while exhibitors at the shadow fairs will quickly negotiate if they can.  The shadow fairs last longer than 4 hours but most of the significant activity occurs before 1:00 pm on Saturday so experienced shadow exhibitors move quickly to close deals as they know the morning traffic will quickly disappear.


The Getman fair will have the benefit of Marvin’s gift for publicity and promotion so expect a good crowd there over its two day run.


Over the years I have bought at all three fairs.  Some material is reasonably and others fully priced.  You have to know the difference as well as how to say no to things you would love to have but that aren’t worth the price.  If you are a Rare Book Hub paid member you’ll have our 8.8 million record database in your pocket to check values if you have a cell phone.  From a phone the address is mobile.rarebookhub.com and remember to know your log-in ID and password.  If you aren’t sure we’ll provide it by phone at 877.323.7273.


Have a great time.  Find something or some things that resonate.   


The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair and Fine Press Fair                 

St. Vincent Ferrer Church

869 Lexington Avenue, New York City 10065


Marvin Getman’s New York City Book and Ephemera Fair

The Sheraton Times Square

811 7th Avenue, New York, New York 10019


The 59th Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair 

643 Park Avenue [between 66th and 67th Streets

New York, New York 10065

Link to a separate article in this issue about this event



Note:  a bus is running between the ABAA Fair and the Getman event at the Sheraton Times Square.