Sunday, 31 August 2008

Collecting Books: Something for Everyone at The York Book Fair

“Books, books everywhere, but not a minute to lose.” Interested in collecting books? A £3,200.00 scarce, limited edition copy of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner with 4 signed and numbered aquatints, is just one of the highlights on offer at this year’s York Book Fair. But visitors will have to be quick. You’ll have an average of four minutes at each stand if you want to visit them all.

The annual York Rare and Antiquarian Book Fair, the largest of its kind in Europe, will open at 12.00 noon on Friday 12th September 2008 at York Racecourse. Now in its 33rd year, this year's fair will be attended by nearly 200 leading dealers, who will gather to offer rare, antiquarian, unusual and hard to obtain out-of-print books on all conceivable subjects.

"As someone who travels 6000 miles to the York Fair it is my main buying event of the year," Mark Weber, Bookseller, Tucson, Arizona is quoted on the Book Fair's site as saying. Aquila Books exhibits from Canada. They specialize in books dealing with Polar Exploration, Western Canadiana, Mountaineering, the Canadian Pacific Railway and Early Voyages among many other areas.

However it is not a strict trade show by any means, with around 40% of visitors welcomed from the general public. The Fair coincides with the launch of “Start Collecting Books Now”, a new Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association initiative aimed at reaching the-man-in-the-street who may be considering collecting books, in the hope of generating new collectors in a field where there is something for everyone's taste. Prices range from a few pounds to tens of thousands of pounds, so there are items for serious collectors and first time-buyers, and those new to collecting alike. As part of the initiative, a booklet is available drawing together information on how and where to buy books, visits to fairs and bookshops as well as tackling buying online.

“There is a reburgeoning interest in the physicality of books,” said Tony Fothergill, Manager of the York Book Fair Committee, in an interview with The View From Here, "at the same time as the ever-increasing volume of books available in digital formats. You can compare it with the current re-interest in vinyl LPs in the music industry (in relation to increasing music online downloads). Books will always have a place. There is something unique about holding a book in your hand, which was in someone else’s in the time it was written.”

One of the items with potentially mass appeal is the trilogy by Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials; The Subtle Knife; and The Amber Spyglass. All first editions, all first issue, all first state dustjackets, all signed on the title pages. Price set at £5,000.00.

“Books fetching high prices now, are often those driven by popular momentum outside of the books themselves. Films generate interest,” said Fothergill. “It’s all about supply and demand. At the time of the films, there was insatiable demand for copies of The Lord of The Rings, which has probably peaked now.”

The delightful artwork for both the Fair and the initiative was created by Mark Hearld, a York based artist, whose recent projects include work for Penguin Books, and the poster for the forthcoming Tate Britain’s Curwen Studios 50th anniversary exhibition. Mark said about the project, “It has been exciting working for the PBFA following in the great Edward Bawdens’ footsteps. I am passionate about books… collecting books so taking on this commission is just right. I’ve learned to draw cats in the process but I think it is the mice which hit the spot!”

Jill Tiffin, of The Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association, who has masterminded the project, said “there is no doubt we need to reach a wider and younger audience. We hope this initiative will be the first step in attracting a new generation of book collectors”.

Event Details:

When: September 12-13
Book Fair Hours:
Friday, September 12th, 12.00 noon - 7.00pm
Saturday, September 13th, 10.00am - 5.00pm
Venue: The Knavesmire Suite, York Racecourse
Venue Tel: 01904 638227
Car Parking: Free Parking on site
Motorway Junction: A1 (M) J.1
Nearest railway station: York (1 mile) free shuttle bus service
Type of Fair: General antiquarian and secondhand books, maps and prints

Complementary tickets are available to print online or admission is £2.00 at the door.

Artwork copyright Mark Hearld, used with kind permission from The York Book Fair.

1 comment:

Mike French said...

Great piece and I agree: people will always want to own and read a paper edition of a book.