Monday, June 19, 2006


Back from the bookfair

Here is a large picture of a tiny book that I bought for my collection yesterday at the Portland bookfair. I didn't buy much - a few books for Ryan, a few for resale at the shop, and a few for my own self. I am not a miniature collector per se, but this little Italian-English dictionary measures just one and a quarter inches by one and three quarters inches. And it has a bookseller's ticket from Naples pasted on the front. And it cost only four dollars, so it came home with me. The title page informs us that it is part of the Vocabolario Lilliput, printed in Leipzig, no date, but looks to be circa 1900. It's a nice little dictionary and traveler's phrase book, with handy sentences such as: A che ora si pranza alla tavola rotunda? (At what o'clock do you have your table d'hôte? - I don't know about you, but this is a question I am constantly asking). The book is fine, but really, it was all about the bookseller's ticket. I'll leave it on the book, instead of removing it for my album, and place it in a little shadow box near my desk alongside favorite bits of wooden and metal type, another miniature book, and a few bookish odds and ends.

Now, about the bookfair: a success, overall - I made back my expenses four times over, so I came away with a decent profit, and the weather turned out hot but not unbearable. My recent grumpiness was unjustified, and I had a great time talking with dealers and customers I only see once or a few times a year. Lots of folks were wearing books-and-reading theme clothing. So, best t-shirt seen at the fair: a teenage kid with an independent bookstore t-shirt that said "Keep Austin Weird" on the back. Ryan talked to the kid and found out that Austin, Texas recently had a campaign to support local small bookstores and this was their shirt, but the great part of it was that the kid's name was also Austin. And his grandparents live in Austin, so they sent him the shirt. Second best t-shirt was another keep-big-box-bookstores-out-of-our-town promotion, and the shirt said "Books Without Borders" - ha! Love it!

I'm settling back in at the shop - this morning I got all the unsold books unpacked and reshelved, packed the folding bookcases away in my storage closet, broke down all the cardboard boxes, put all my supplies away, went to the bank, and I've even sold a few nice books today. My bookish friend Vicky was in, she bought (among other books) a softcover of Perrin's A Reader's Delight, and a young man just came in asking for a copy of the Qur'an, and he bought a boxed hardcover version I had in stock, while saying, "This is great - you should be able to spend twenty dollars for something you believe in." That's right, you should.

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