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  • Mon, 13 Apr 2015 04:21:40    Permalink

    Three Book Fairs in the Last Month Including the New NYC Shadow Show – 12 April 2015
    Well, we just finished our third show in the last thirty days:  The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Petersburg, Ephemera 35 in Old Greenwich, and Marv Getman’s New York City Shadow Show on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Two were fantastic, and one was so-so.
    Hands down, the Florida book fair remains our favorite show of the year.  Susan Smith does a great job in bringing in buying customers and attending to exhibitor needs.  The venue can't be beat; the fair is held in the wonderful and historic St. Petersburg Coliseum.   Load-in and load-out are a breeze whether you do it yourself or have one of the motivated teenage porters take care of the heavy lifting.  Even the food at the snack bar is better than you find at most regional shows.  Nice hotels and good restaurants abound within the area; our new lodging favorite is the Hollander Hotel, a ‘boutiquey’ update of a classic 1930s structure that has its own tap room, bakery/coffee shop, spacious porch, and nightly entertainment.
    Best of all, it’s only a block and a half from the Coliseum.  This show is a great break from the cold weather that afflicts much of the bookselling world during mid-March.  We don’t buy as much at shows as some dealers, so for us sales are important.  I can’t remember ever having a poor show in St. Petersburg, and this year was no exception.  Pre-show sales to other dealers during setup were strong, and customer sales were even better.  The booth was busy until mid-morning Sunday, and we sold a lot of nice things, mostly in the $250 to $1500 range.    Following right on the heels of Florida, Ephemera 35 was a bit of a disappointment, although Tina and John Bruno, the show promoters, were as always friendly, attentive, and very accommodating.  The show hotel, the Hyatt Regency, is quite attractive, and it’s a pleasure to stay in the same building as the fair.  You’ve got to love any hotel that has an indoor garden bar.  The weather this year was crummy, as is often the case, and load-in was in the middle of a wintery mix storm.  Access to the building is truly a pain, and a wobbly steel plank (that gets super-slick in snowy-rain) is used to get dollies from the parking lot up onto the sidewalk leading to the venue.  The porters seemed a little lackadaisical, and I saw loads for a couple of dealers get tipped onto the hopefully not too wet pavement.  The crowds were strong throughout the weekend; after all this is the major annual gathering of ephemera collectors, and the talks I went to were interesting.  The strange thing for us, though, is that our sales weren’t very good; and that’s happened here before.  It’s sort of a puzzle, because at most book fairs, unique or near unique ephemeral Americana, military, sports, and science (pamphlets, manuscripts, diaries, photo albums, and the like) make up the overwhelming majority of our sales; so we’d like to think that at a show focusing on ephemera we’d do extremely well; that hasn’t been the case here.  We made our expenses, but little more.  At this show, most of our material hardly gets noticed.  Instead, the attendees seem to focus on graphics, for example, colorful trade cards, advertisements, valentines, small pop-ups or movables, etc.  We sell those things, but they aren’t our bread and butter.  
    This year there were two shadow shows held in conjunction with the granddaddy of American book fairs, ABAA show at the Armory in New York City.  We ended up exhibiting at Marv Getman’s new New York City Book and Ephemera Show.  
    Wow, was this a good show!  It was a one-day fair held on Saturday, 11 April, at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Wallace Hall on Park Avenue less than a mile from the Armory.   
    Marvin, as usual for his shows, had the load-in and load-out exceptionally well organized.  It was a snap, hardly what you’d expect along a busy Manhattan thoroughfare.  His porter crew was terrific; they got our minivan unloaded and had our boxes to our booth in well under ten minutes.  Parking was right across the street.  The exhibit hall was very attractive and well lit.  Booths were interspersed between towering marble columns and under stained glass windows. We didn’t stick around long after setting up, but instead walked two blocks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and spent Friday afternoon there.  We stayed at the Franklin Hotel about four blocks from the fair, although it would have been no problem lodging elsewhere as the show is within a few blocks of a subway stop. Luckily, we stumbled upon a superb, but unpretentious, small, and reasonably-priced Italian restaurant, Trattoria Pesce Pasta, a block from the Franklin, and their food was great.  
    There were lots of inexpensive places to grab a bite to eat about a block away from the church along Lexington Avenue (try the Hot and Crusty Bakery Café or Mimi’s Pizza, a Bobby Flay favorite) but there was no need to venture away from the show on Saturday if you didn’t want to as Marvin provided a bagel buffet for breakfast and arranged for Panera boxes to be brought in for lunch.  Marvin works hard to bring in paying customers, and he’s very successful.  Even before we left home, we had almost $2,000 in sales from new customers that found us as direct result of his advertising.  Sales on Saturday morning were terrific as both dealers from the ABAA show and regular customers swarmed into the hall at eight o’clock. 
    At times, we had seven or eight people crammed in our booth with several more patiently waiting in the aisle to enter.  We did well for us with a dozen or so sales before noon that ranged from $800 to $2500.  All but one of the dealers near us said they had good or great shows as well; it looked to us like there were lots of dealer smiles all around. Just after the show ended, Marvin made an announcement that he was most likely going to put on the show again next year, and the dealers burst into a long, loud round of applause and shouting; that was something we’ve never experienced before.  The only bummer for the whole trip were the long delays getting into and out of the city through the tunnel. 
     We’re taking a break for the summer and may not do another show until Boston in November.  In the meantime, we’ll be attending some of the courses at the Rare Book School on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  
     If you are a dealer, collector, or librarian, you should think about attending if you can spare the time.  The courses are a little bit on the pricey side, but many scholarships are available from a number of different organizations.

    We're also going to take some time to visit family outside of St. Louis and catch some Cardinals' games as well as attend Michigan State's Grandparents University (Go State!) with two of our granddaughters.

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