NYC Rare Book Week

What better vacation is there than one that is book themed?  Below is my account of a recent book pilgrimage to NYC.  Read if you wish, or stay tuned for the next book review!

I first started to see advertisements for the ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair around November.  At the time, I suggested to my parents that it would be totally awesome if we went, but then didn’t press the issue as I didn’t see myself in NYC in April 2014.  Some time passed, and then my mom and I were trying to figure out what to do about the first weekend in April.  And so it was finally decided that we would spend the bittersweet weekend in which I turned my big sister’s age by having an amazing time in NYC.

True to the book theme, we stayed at the Library Hotel in midtown.  The floors are arranged by Dewey Decimal Classification and there are books everywhere.  I made fun of my mom for sticking to the “theme” but the Library Hotel really is a wonderful place to stay.  (And for the record, I did NOT wear my book print dresses – that would be TOO over the top!)

Thursday was our arrival day.  My mom met me at the gate and then we made the mistake of taking Super Shuttle to the hotel.  There wasn’t anything too book-themed about Thursday.  We went to the hotel’s wine reception and my mom knocked over a full glass of water at a casual diner later that evening.  That last part is only notable because I am usually the clumsy culprit of such happenings.

Friday was the ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair, a main event of our trip.  Wow.  It was spectacular!  The show is held at the Park Avenue Armory, a beautiful building.  The books on display at this show are simply phenomenal.  One thing that surprised me was the representation of international booksellers with everything from the most stunning illuminated manuscripts to fantastic children’s books from around the world.  Many of the books were available for careful handling, and my mom and I particularly enjoyed reading through a few of the french pop-up books.  Aside from the romances and career novels covered on this blog, children’s antiquarian books are my favorite and it is a very good thing that these books fall safely outside of my collecting scope.

The highlight of my visit to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair was visiting Yesterday’s Gallery and Babylon Revisited Rare Books‘ booth.  I cannot say enough good things about Michael and Earl Manz, and really enjoyed visiting with them.  Out of everything at the book fair, the two books I swooned over were at booth B-24.  My mom suggested I post photos of these books, but I am opting to wait until I have a chance to review them.  Without telling too much, the first book was one that Michael and Earl were kind enough to bring to the fair and hold for me.  It was one of those elusive Chelsea House romances, which my mom purchased on my behalf.  The second book is a department store romance that I didn’t expect to find.   I had been searching for a copy of this title for about a year and a half without any luck, and I totally did a dorky rare book nerd gasp when I saw it.  On our way out, my mom and I visited with Susan Benne, who we hadn’t seen since the NCBCC (National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest) reception in 2012.  My purchases were wrapped for security purposes, so I couldn’t show Susan the books, but it was great to see her again.

Saturday was the social day with back-to-back meetups, family followed by my mom’s longtime friends.  My mom, aunt, uncle and I walked the one block from the hotel to the New York Public Library and very much enjoyed their exhibit, “The ABC of It:  Why Children’s Books Matter.”  Really, there couldn’t be a more perfect exhibit for my mom and me!

Sunday my mom and I went to the Manhattan Vintage Book and Ephemera Fair, otherwise known as the Shadow Show.  On our way in we ran into Mark Dimunation, who we also hadn’t seen since the 2012 NCBCC reception.  My mom and I had a great time, although we didn’t buy anything.  My mom was trying to scout out each booth ahead of me, hoping to discover the next great find.  The item I didn’t buy – for better or worse – was a fascinating set of Clara Bow fan made scrap books.  A very dedicated fan many years ago pasted all things Clara into a set of five hand-made scrap books, which are very fragile but very cool.

After that, we cabbed it uptown to the New York Society Library, which is a sister organization of the library where I work.  Like the Charleston Library Society, the New York Society Library is a gorgeous membership library founded in the mid-eighteenth century.  The librarian at the reference desk was Carolyn Waters, Assistant Head Librarian, and she was kind enough to take my mom and I on a tour of the New York Society Library, a definite high point of the trip!

Aside from those bookish pursuits, my mom and I shopped, ate, and drank a LOT.  We had a great time, and are looking forward to our next adventure, whatever that may be.  And thanks Mom, for an outstanding b-day weekend!

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5 Responses to NYC Rare Book Week

  1. Mike says:

    Sounds like a great trip! I got to the Morgan Library on my visit to see the St. Exupery exhibit of illustrations and manuscripts. Also glad to hear the best booth at the show was B-24. See you guys at the next big fair.

  2. Judith says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip, Jess.

  3. Joyce says:

    What a great trip for you and your mom! Your blog made me smile.

  4. Mom says:

    We had so much fun! So glad we went!

  5. Grubby Glove says:

    Sounds like it was a splendid adventure!

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