September 2016 | Rebecca Rego Barry

In Memoriam Bookseller Bob Fleck

We at Fine Books were so saddened to learn that Bob Fleck, founder of Oak Knoll Books & Press, passed away last week.

For so many bibliophiles, including myself, Oak Knoll is a point of entry into the world of books about books. I first visited Fleck and his shop back in 2001, when I wrote an article about Oak Knoll for Publishers Weekly. I attended Oak Knoll Fest VIII, took home one of the amazing catalogues for which Oak Knoll is known, and was swept up into a world that I was only beginning to explore, a world that he had, in large part, created. For that, I am so grateful.  

It was at that festival fifteen years ago that I first met Nicholas Basbanes--talk about an entrée into bibliophily. Nick has twice presented at Oak Knoll. He described Bob this way: "A truly great bookman, and an outstanding human being. When we talk about 'books about books,' we are talking about Oak Knoll Books, its publishing arm, Oak Knoll Press, and the guiding spirit of both, Bob Fleck. I couldn't begin to count the number of titles Bob sent my way for my own work."

According to Webb Howell, publisher of Fine Books, Bob Fleck was a long and loyal supporter of the magazine. "Fine Books had worked jointly on several things with Oak Knoll over the years, including a limited edition of Every Book Its Reader by Nicholas A. Basbanes. Bob brought a wonderful sense of business and order to the book community."

Oak Knoll has announced that this year's Oak Knoll Fest XIX scheduled for September 30-October 2, will go on, as per Bob's wishes.

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers has posted a lovely condolence note here, and the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America is collecting memories and memorials to post here. In 2014, Bob sat for this video interview at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair: