Rare Book Week NYC: Navigating the Bazaar

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Book Week has arrived in New York, and there’s plenty to do and little time to do it in. What are the best ways to get the most bang for your buck? Below, a few suggestions to help make your Book Week a rousing success:


1. Go to rarebookweek.org, browse the list of exhibitors, and study the layout of the shows (there’s three this year). With over two hundred exhibitors at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair (NYABF) alone, it’s wise to have some sense of which dealers you want to see first. What do you do if you don’t have a clue about who’s who? The NYABF is mantaining a robust Instagram page where various exhibitor-provided highlights give a sense of the vendors and their specialties.
2. Pack smart. If your game plan includes active acquisition, tuck a sturdy canvas tote into your carry-all or purse.
3. Find your Fair. The NYABF is Book Week’s crown jewel, and tantalizing offerings include a $3,000 children’s book entitled Die Wunderfahrt at Pierre Coumans’ booth, a stunning 40-volume collection of Balzac presented by Imperial Fine Books ($15,000), and other not-to-be-missed items. Still, if all the glitz and glamor of the Park Avenue bazaar is too rich for your blood, head over to the Uptown Satellite Show at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Wallace Hall at 980 Park Avenue. Sixty dealers, such as Rare PaperLizz Young, and Jonathan Kearns, are participating. Don’t be surprised if you see a few dealers from the NYABF browsing here as well. Free shuttle service between both locations runs from 7:45 am-6:45 pm throughout the weekend. And finally, the hip “Shadow Show” takes place on Saturday from 10pm to 5pm directly across from the Armory at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, where show organizer John Bruno (as seen on PBS’s “Market Warriors”) will be conducting appraisals from 1-3pm.
4. Do your homework. Active collectors know that education is key to making smart purchases. See the bibliographies in A Gentle Madness and Among the Gently Mad for worthwhile guides to book hunting. As noted author and collector Michael Sadleir said in 1937, “In nature the bird who gets up earliest catches the most worms, but in book collecting the prizes fall to birds who know worms when they see them.”
5. Get there early. Though the NYABF and the Satellite Show are running extended hours this year, the good stuff always goes first.
6. Talk to the exhibitors. Booksellers, especially antiquarian booksellers, are a highly educated lot, so a conversation on Renaissance illuminated manuscripts could lead into all sorts of glorious directions. 
7. Take it in stride, i.e., wear comfortable walking shoes--your feet will thank you.
8. Are you driving? Bring a roll of quarters in case you’re one of the lucky few who snags street parking. Failing to feed the parking meter could set you back $65, and that’s no way to end a great day at the Fair.

What are your best practices for a successful Book Week? Let us know!

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