Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyNot Book People

  • Mon, 22 Oct 2012 08:14:13    Permalink

    Shriner's auditorium, main hallWhats up with moving forward? Five years ago everyone said in the future, or in days to come, or even good old later on. Now the default phrase is moving forward a clumsy trope that riddles our daily speech. Its the kind of virus for which there is no cure but time. I suppose Ill just have to ignore it moving forward.
    Now, where was I?
    Marvin Getman, promoter of Boston area antique shows, has developed a reputation for energetic, organized, and well advertised events. His shows in Concord, Wellesley, Lexington, Wilmington, and Boston are said to attract healthy crowds.
    Over the past couple of years Marvin has brought some of that energy into the New England antiquarian book scene first, by taking over promotion of the MARIAB spring book fair and, most recently, by purchasing the shadow show that accompanies the big ABAA international antiquarian book fair in Boston each fall.
    Hes also expanded his autumn Antique & Design Show at the Shriners auditorium in Wilmington, MA by adding what he bills as a Book & Paper Room. Photos Too! Lets give the man some points for creativity. Hes not just setting up tables at the same venue each year, opening the doors, and waiting to see what drifts in. Hes adding an exclamation point!
    Now, in my usual If its Tuesday, this must be Paris mode, this weekend is traditionally dedicated to the Albany Antiquarian Book Fair,  ably promoted by colleague Garry Austin. However, its a 3 hour schlep for me from Gloucester to Albany, and we had an event going at Flatrocks Gallery on Saturday night. 

     Long drive! So, I took a chance and signed up for The Book & Paper Room. Photos Too!, a mere 45 minutes from my home.
    Perhaps youre not familiar with the Shriners, about whom Ive blogged in years past. Basically, they wear funny hats, worship stuffed camels, and raise money to do good things for children. 

    Their temple in Wilmington looks like a warehouse outside, but inside it has a decidedly Middle Eastern aura, replete with strange symbols and funny names.
    As soon as I entered the Fez Room, in which the Book & Paper Room. Photos Too! was housed, I knew I was in for trouble. The main hall, where 150 antique dealers were set up, was vast and well lit. The Fez Room had low ceilings and poor illumination. A virtual crypt. This, I knew, was where my bookfair had come to die.

    Friday afternoon, after Id set my booth up, I consulted with colleague Richard Thorner who assured me that, if I brought a few of my own lights in when the show opened, I would be fine in the Fez Room. Marvin, he said, always got a great crowd for this show. Of course, Richard had rented a booth in the main hall. 
    I came in with lights on Saturday morning and sat waiting for nothing to happen. But I was in for a surprise.
    First, the music started. For some reason, the Shriners temple has an excellent sound system installed, and Marvin played what sounded to me like the entire catalog of Blue Note Records. Not too loud, but perfectly crisp, and jazzy enough to put a lilt in even the weariest step.
    Then the people came. And boy, did they come! A steady stream all day Saturday, with traffic only a little lighter on Sunday. Ten Pound Island Book Co. set a new company record for Shriners shows with an astonishing five sales two of which were to previously unknown retail customers! My total of $2300 was utterly unexpected and probably equally undeserved.

    The main hall seemed, to my untrained eye, filled mostly with junk. But it was amusing junk. Refreshing junk. After weeks and weeks of books and books it was fun to stroll the aisles and look at something new.

    If there was a downside to the show, it was that Marvin had been able to attract only six other book and paper dealers. Consequently, the buying was lousy (three letters written by Francis Parkman, a limited edition of Roads History of Marblehead, and a treatise on the New York Yacht Club bookplate) which is why there is no featured item this week.
    I asked Marvin about the enormous crowd and he told me that the numbers were actually down a little this weekend, owing to the unexpectedly fine weather. I told him to stop putting me on, but he assured me he was telling the truth. These are not book people, he said. Which sort of explained it.
    I think Ill try his January show at the Shriners and see if theres anything to this not book people angle.
    Bruce Gventer enjoying his lunch in the Fez Room

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