Fairs | February 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Books, Books, Books in San Fran, part 2

On day two of the California Book Fair, I began the day by attending a lecture by Professor Adrian Johns, author of The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making, among other titles. He spoke to a filled room on the topic, "The Promise and Peril of a Universal Library." He detailed the quest--from ancient times to modern--to create a universal library. Of course, the Google Books Project was a focus. Professor Johns wondered, "how it affects how we read and circulate knowledge," or, to put it more plainly, "what is it for?" Artificial intelligence was one (frightening) answer.

After that I set out onto the floor again to get reacquainted with some booksellers and see some fascinating books. For example, Priscilla Lowry-Gregor at Lowry-James Rare Prints & Books showed me a stunning mid nineteenth-century English herbarium. Scott DeWolfe of DeWolfe & Wood talked to me about a neat set of five pamphlets he is offering related to a notorious 1831 murder in Massachusetts. Ian Kahn at Lux Mentis has a beautiful 1928 Candide (Random House/Pynson Press) in a custom portfolio with specimen printed pages colored by hand. I happened to be visiting Lux Mentis at a good time, and Ian introduced me to fellow browser Ken Shure of the Gehenna Press, who told me about his and Liv Rockefeller's new imprint, Two Ponds Press, and its forthcoming inaugural work, Interior Skies: Late Poems from Liguria by Anthony Hecht. The edition of seventy-five will publish later this spring.     

The fair was less busy today than Friday, but overall, most booksellers I spoke to felt that the fair has been a good one, especially in terms of dealer-to-dealer sales. The fair will go on without me tomorrow, as I head back to New York, where many of us will meet again in April. See you then.