Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyCoffee Break or Cocktail Hour?

  • Mon, 24 Jun 2013 02:57:09    Permalink
    Got off the Londonflight late Thursday night. Mowed my lawn and did my wash on Friday, then flew out to Minneapolison Saturday. So is it coffee break or cocktail hour?
    Cocktail hour. At chez Rulon-Miller, anyway. Spent a wonderful Saturday night with the dean of Minnesotabook dealers, Rob Rulon-Miller, and colleagues Nina Musinsky and John Hellebrand, engaging in urbane and witty banter in Robs wonderful library.
    The reason for this convocation goes beyond banter. We are gathered here for the Dealers Showcase at the Rare Book and Manuscript Librarians Conference, held this year in downtown Minneapolis. This collision of worlds librarian and bookseller was engineered several years ago by former ABAA president Sarah Baldwin, and the event has been generating sparks ever since.
    This year, forty of the countrys finest dealers (with selections from their best stock) got together Sunday evening with two hundred librarians for wine, snacks, and more urbane and witty banter. The event continued through Mondays full schedule of workshops and lectures.
    The hope is that librarians on break from these workshops and lectures will come into the dealers display space and continue the fascinating conversations theyd begun at the cocktail party the night before.
    Initially this plan failed. The librarians kept largely to themselves. Then some genius figured out to put the coffee and donuts in the same room with the book dealers, and presto! More stimulating conversation.
    Its a gradual thing sort of like a junior high school mixer, with librarians shyly circulating among themselves against one wall, and dealers looking at their shoes on the other side of the room. But eventually the ice melts. We talk.Ken Karmiole, (fifth from left) holds courtThis event gives us names, and faces to go with those names. I might have been sending my catalog to certain institution for years, but not until Ive had a conversation with the acquisitions librarian at that institution, will my catalog even be read.
    Happily, this year at least, the Booksellers Showcase is more than just a show case. Steadily, quietly, beneath the meet and greet, business is getting done. Rare books and manuscripts do get bought by librarians in attendance. And dealers will always buy from one another. Its how we're wired. 
    Only one complaint.
    Owing to an unfortunate miscommunication or just plain poor planning, the organizers of this conference failed to align it with the annual Minneapolis Book Fair - which takes place next weekend. This is a wonderful town, but not many dealers from the RBMS event have the time or patience to hang around for an extra week.
    Oops! Another coffee break. Gotta go...

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