Fairs | March 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Guest Blog: The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair

Kara McLaughlin, proprietor of Little Sages in Cooper City, Florida, and recent entry in our Bright Young Things series, exhibited at her first fair earlier this month at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Petersburg.  She sent in the following report:

photo 5.JPGI turned the key and felt her start up. Last of the boxes and bags tucked in, green light, action, we are doing this - yes, we are ready to roll. Miles of white highway lines to cover but they fly by and I pinch, pinch again that in a matter of hours the stage will be set and the audience set in motion. The first audience, to me at least, for my first show in bookworld.

There's the space: blank and bare, save the gorgeous bones of wood, rafters and lights. Free them, I tell myself, release the spines, boards and covers and find the magic. I support and lean, angle and stack the relics, hop back to the aisle to catch the rough form and line, dash back in to rearrange. A loop of dialogue in my mind, "Will they see this from  there? Does color catch their eye?"  I hadn't realized the artist I needed to be, the poet of form and content. The nook of my wares and lures tied, I call the evanescent shop open.

 photo 1.JPGWhat I anticipated and excepted did come, and more so - with waves that I simply could not know fully until diving in. Deep in the limitless, dynamic exchange between patron, reveler and medium, the humble  bookseller here to sometimes translate, occasionally guide  (yes I think it this vast and true).

Each shelf bursting with songs and story, inked to the bleeding edge with more  - each visitor thirsty and readied to sit at the table. This communion of bibliophiles, this celebration simply cannot be translated out of the flesh and blood. Shopkeepers know the beauty of face to face sales, but here it's intensified and poured freely - and it is a delight.

photo 4(1).JPG The bundles I wrapped and tucked under my arm for travel - ah I know their stories well, but what I didn't foresee were the stories that would be brought to me.  Some came with a few lines, a haiku  - some carried a long, deep tale. What led them to photograph the dreadlocked, wild horses on a small island in the Atlantic?  How many times have they built a Catspaw dingy by hand? How long did they work in the Carnegie Steel factory? When did their lover first read them Shakespeare? How did they feel when the truth of Emerson sunk in?  I'm convinced that a collecting mind is an engaged, even enlightened one.

photo 4.JPGWhen it comes down to it, folks who love books are lovers of life, and these knowing, appreciative friends need no convincing that beauty, history, science, poetry and all the forgotten details of the world are worth noting, saving and sharing. Like all good parties, no one really wants to pull out of the driveway but, here, we gather our keys and coat - and say goodbye for a time. Yeah, a good sleep called and I sure answered - but even as I folded the first bookcase flat and brought the shop back to a 2D world for a while, I asked myself - where to? I'm hooked, got the bug, gone round the bend.. this little traveling sage ready at the helm.  

Until then, dreamers, dream! The muse awaits.