Fairs | February 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Books, Books, Books in San Fran, part 1

This was a day filled with books and bookish things. I started my day visiting three of San Francisco's amazing book shops -- John Windle, Brick Row, and Argonaut. All beautiful shops, and all open, even though the fair set-up was in full swing. I saw a very neat book at John Windle -- Home Decoration and Color Guide by Rockwell Kent. A slim little guide with color palettes, sponsored by Sherwin-Williams. Not expensive, and certainly a minor piece in a shop like that, but an interesting little find nonetheless. I had the pleasure of meeting Argonaut owner Bob Gaines in his shop, where is he training the third generation of Argonaut booksellers.

The CA book fair opened at 3:00. A line had queued from about 2:15 onward, a good sign. The bold signage and helpful staff marked the event's entry, and from there, collectors were off and running. I spent about four hours on the floor, stopping at several exhibitors, among them Antipodean Books, Between the Covers, Lux Mentis, Books Tell You Why, Tavistock, James Cummins, Kaaterskill Books, Justin Croft, Oak Knoll, Serendipity Books (a very busy place with Peter Howard there), Plaza Books, Royal Books, and David Brass Rare Books (where I finally met Stephen Gertz of Booktryst fame). I also met Scott Brown in person after all these years! Scott is the founding editor of FB&C, now owner of Eureka Books in Eureka, CA. 

So much to take in, so many great books. Being in California, I suppose it's inevitable to see a lot of Californiana, Jack Kerouac, and Charles Bukowski. Also Mark Twain. A couple of items caught my attention. In Justin Croft's case, I saw the striking watercolor portrait of Emily Faithful (1835-1895), a pioneer of the British women's movement and founder of Victoria Printing Press. It's a lovely portrait, and having just read Emma Donoghue's historical novel about Miss Faithful, The Sealed Letter, it was exciting to see at the fair. Books Tell You Why is featuring a new book from Heavenly Monkey Editions called The WunderCabinet. Created by Claudia Cohen and Barbara Hodgson, the book is issued in a box that features compartments of varying sizes containing objects from the creators' own collections. The result is a wonderful interpretation of early cabinets of curiosities.

I managed to browse about 2/3 of the fair today, which means I am headed back tomorrow for some more serious looking. Until then...