This show just keeps getting better and bigger. I’ve been exhibiting here for the past four years, and sporadically attending for a little longer than that, and it’s become one of my favorite bookselling and collecting venues. Not because it’s the most lucrative – but it is often far and away the most interesting.
Impresario Gary Lovisi managed again to keep things lively on two fronts – the 35 dealers ranged from relative newcomers to longtime paperback specialists like Chris Eckhoff (who’s forgotten more about adult paperbacks than I ever hope to find out, and has authored a useful checklist on the subject), and the guests’ table was a great mix of authors and illustrators. Between checking out all the gems on the tables and garnering signatures from the guests, attendees were packed in throughout the day. The show drew collectors from far and wide (we noticed, for example, Tom Lesser, who produces the Paperback Collectors Show and Sale in Los Angeles, making the rounds).
This year’s featured guests were Ann Bannon, who wrote a number of groundbreaking lesbian novels for Gold Medal, and Julie Ellis, who (as Joan Ellis and Linda Michaels) wrote over 100 softcore novels for Midwood in the 1960s. They were joined by authors Julius Fast, Ron Goulart, Barry Malzberg, Walter Wager, Dan Sontup, John Norman, Howard Schoenfeld and Morris Hershman, and cover artists Robert Maguire and Mitchell Hooks. Now that’s a line-up. (Marijane Meaker — aka Vin Packer, Ann Aldrich and M.E. Kerr — was also slated to attend, but unfortunately had to cancel for personal reasons.)
Partly as a tribute to the female guests, Lovisi also made available the long-running show’s first souvenir T-shirt, which featured the imaginary cover of Book Show Girl (“Men bought her books at their peril!”). I bought two; one as a back-up in case the need for emergency biblio-apparel comes up. (There are still a few available from Lovisi; check out his Gryphon Books website.
Because of the smaller size of the books, and because the vivid cover art is such a factor in the appeal of paperback collecting, it’s easy to burn out early with eye-fatigue at this show. I’ve found it best to take a lot of time, alternating short shopping expeditions to a few dealer tables with visits to the authors and artists with whatever handful of their books I’ve been able to accumulate. Lovisi’s guests seem always to be ready to sign whatever’s at hand and to take the time to talk about their work (although my pet peeve is the semi-civilized collector who invariably hauls up two shopping bags of 50 books, assuming the author will sign them all).
This show is particularly welcome when I’m hunting up specific titles, especially given the vagaries of Internet-dealer grading, and the heightened importance of condition in paperback collecting. There’s nothing like actually handling the goods. This year, I’ve been trying to assemble a “Kerouac in paperback” collection, and managed to get quite decent copies of both the first U.S. and first U.K. paperback printings of On the Road. To have a show that allows one-stop shopping like that is a treasure indeed. The next Expo is sheduled on Oct. 3, 2004, again at the Holiday in on West 57th Street in Manhattan. See you there!
Bob Riedel Printmat@aol.com