This past weekend's NY Antiquarian Book Fair was a great success, with high attendance, eager buyers, and, most importantly, fantastic inventory from over 200 exhibitors from around the world. This was our largest NY Fair to date—there were so many enthusiastic dealers that the show floor was slightly expanded to accomodate the absolute maximum number of exhibitors—and dealers did not disappoint with the marvelous offerings they brought along.
The weather was spectacular—I heard it again and again throughout the fair and there truly is nothing like springtime in NYC—but that didn't stop people from exploring the cavernous space of the Armory all weekend long. There were also multiple celebrity sightings (more on that later) which only infused the show floor with additional excitement.
As an employee of the ABAA, I spend most of my time during the fairs in the ABAA booth handing out literature about the organization and fielding questions from attendees and exhibitors. I enjoy the opportunity to speak with both attendees and dealers about the fair, and I'm particularly fond of the gusto book fair virgins have, the wonder and excitement they express at their discovery of the rare book world. This isn't to say that time in the booth doesn't drag on a bit at times. It does, but mostly because I get frustrated that I'm not exploring every nook and cranny in each booth.
Preview night at the NY Fair allows me the chance to explore, and it's one of the many reasons I love this fair in particular. On Thursday night the fair opens in preview—sales can take place but admission is slightly higher because you are truly getting first pick at a highly popular event—and I'm afforded the occasion to check things out for myself, say hello to members I don't often see or have not yet met in person, and try to see as much as possible. If you saw me on Preview night this year I probably looked like a chicken with its head cut off (though even wobblier in heels) as I tried to simultaneously meet, greet, and Tweet, all while trying to take in as much as possible. I was taken by a number of natural history prints, beautiful pictures of flora and fauna; illuminated leaves; and original drawings from some of my childhood favorites.
Even with the time I had on preview night, I didn't see the majority of what sellers had to offer at the fair, and it's easy to see that if you really wanted to explore every nook and cranny you would need to attend the whole run of the show (and even then would be likely to leave stones unturned!). For me, the fair is ambiguously overwhelming, exciting and anxiety producing at once, and I love it every time.
There was no question attendees were impressed and, from the post-fair reports that I've read, dealers sound very pleased with the weekend as well. All in all a success! (Please check out our Facebook page for more photos of the fair.)