We may be a little behind the times here at Harrison-Hiett, (We are old booksellers after all), but we have finally caught up clearing out our photographs.
This year saw another fine ABE Chelsea book fair – with many thanks to Graham York, Giles Lyons, and the rest of the crew. Takes certainly seemed healthy from Graham’s reports, and it felt like there were plenty of visitors passing through.
The view from the stage. Marianne and Camilla working hard to the left.
The Annexe (where my stall was) & Graham attempting a complex operation during the show.
For our first international foray, Marcia and I decided to pop over to Budapest. This may not strike you as an obvious choice – but it had some excellent advantages. Budapest was Marcia’s main choice of holiday destination this year – so that was a good start. Then there was the fact that the fair was running alongside the ILAB Congress for 2016. We felt that we had every chance to sell some items to ILAB members from around the world. Thirdly was the fact that our old mucker Graham York, was driving his van there with Jan – so our stock could get a lift, and we could swan in on a jet plane!
Here are a few photographs and a couple of little videos from our time at the fair:
The Danube at night:
The Hungarians do like their books – and in the centre of a pedestrian walkway was this rather fabulous fountain:
The fair was held overlooking the river Danube, in the city’s concert hall, a rather beautiful venue in the heart of the capital.
We were very pleased to see some nice signage outside.
Here is the before and after of our shared stand:
Graham and Jan consider their efforts, whilst Marcia welcomes customers.
At least until she sees the prices we had put on some items:
Graham didn’t feel too well after our first meal out – perhaps we should have paid more attention to the name of the restaurant:
And at the end of the fair, a well earned glass of Champers at the New York Cafe in Budapest before heading home.
That’s it for now. By the time you see this, I shall be returning from the Amsterdam book fair – so hopefully will have some photos / videos / gossip from there. Eg veled.
Another fabulous fair at York this year. The whole York team deserve many thanks and much praise from us all for their continued efforts. Together, they manage to put on the UK’s largest fair, and one which is certainly the “Jewel in the Crown” attracting buyers and sellers from around the world.
Here is the wondrous Tony – one of the fair manager’s, pointing to his house on a rather over-sized map!
And here is proof that I do attend the fairs with some books:
Finally for this week, is my regular video. This one features Lucy, from Daniel Crouch, talking through one of her favourite items. Although about the newest member of the PBFA (at the time of writing), Daniel Crouch is a well known and very established member of the map trade.
Whilst in Bristol at the fair, in between beating back the busy customers and their wads of cash, i managed to do a couple more of my video interviews with members of the trade. I decided to go with the most senior couple (in terms of book history rather than age !) that i could find, with mr & mrs Lee, and then in a poetic juxtaposition, one of the newest couples to join the PBFA with Robert & Barbara Chalk.
I think this was about my 5th attempt at interviewing the Lee’s – every time we would start, a musician would begin just behind them. We got there in the end though. Mr & Mrs Lee are well known, having been involved with the PBFA for many years.
Opposite Marcia and I at Bristol, were Robert and Barbara, who only joined the PBFA last year. their company is called “Rare & Antique Books” and they are based in Exeter. I am always learning new things through the book trade. This fair has taught me never to let Robert choose the starter in a Vietnamese restaurant !
That’s it for now. Next stop York, for YABS, the big York Premier Fair, and the PBFA’s annual general meeting. Will the joy never end ?
My final interview from Oxford this year was with Pat Marrin of Marrin’s bookshop Folkestone. Another second generation bookseller, Pat is well known (I hesitate to say infamous) on the fair circuit.
The title of this blog post comes from his father’s comment to him on his entering the trade. It certainly aligns with my views on book-selling as a career, and is Pat’s comment to anyone coming into the trade now.
For this weeks offering, i have a video interview with Tony Cox of Claude Cox. Tony is a second generation Suffolk bookseller, indeed, it took me several years to realise that he wasn’t Claude (apparently i am not the only one). I caught up with Tony at Oxford PBFA fair, and he regaled me with tales of book hunting in Oxford in his youth.
Tony has now returned to Kelsale, where he operates a catalogue and book fair business from White House Farm.
Next week I shall be catching up with Pat Marrin from Folkestone.
Marcia and I were very pleased with how this year’s fair went. Of course, there were issues and irritants, but on the whole, the event went smoothly and successfully despite the Bank Holiday weekend.
We were particularly happy to welcome a number of new exhibitors to the fair. From the world’s oldest book company (Henry Sotherans) to the world’s youngest (Bibliomaniacs), our exhibitors filled the room with beautiful books and paper objects. From overseas, it was wonderful to welcome Martin Stone again from Versailles, and great to see Baumans back on the circuit. As ever, it was a joy to welcome B&B, D&D and other overseas acronymic dealers.
Within the UK, it was good to welcome back old friends, and see some new ones. Our glass cabinets once more filled with fabulous objects. If only someone would donate me a few hundred thousand, I could have taken home a lot more than I did, and increased the fair take somewhat.
Ah yes – I appreciate that you are tolerating all this text to get to the take figures:
This year a couple of late cancellations resulted in 102 exhibitors. (Down a couple from last year)
The total take for the fair was £627,543 (so the total was down 3% on last years). The average per exhibitor was £6,152 (up 1% on last year). The adjusted average (removing top and bottom 4 to get a better picture) was £5526 which is up 2% on last year. (mainly because last year there were a couple of very high takes).
The spread of takes does seem to be steadily rising – with that “middle rump” where 70% of the dealers sit, rising up the scale slowly.
The number of visitors was up this year. On the Friday at opening, the queue spread around the café, across the welcome desk, out into the lobby and eventually out of the hotel. The number on Friday was between 1600-1700, (our security lady had counted for us and had over 2000 but some were “re-entries”). On the Saturday it was somewhat quieter, but still over 500.
I sent out a request for feedback about the fair – and amazingly, i had replies from lots of the exhibitors. The majority (by a long way) would like to move the fair to still earlier on the Friday (12 noon) and finish at 6pm or 6.30pm on the Friday. On the whole, dealers want Saturday to be left alone. I have yet to properly sort through the replies and come up with some proposals – but the response has been encouraging.
Many people need thanking for their assistance at the fair. I can’t name everyone, but I would particularly like to embarrass the “Peter Hill Mob*” who come in and lay out the tables with a precision I could never match, Veronica – who from set up, to portering, to keeping me in check, helps throughout the fair. Uncle Phil Salin does a fine job of bringing everything up from Royston, getting it to the right stand and taking it all away again afterwards. This year, it was lovely to see Pritida helping Marcia on the front desk. The pair of them were a wonderful public face as the first people our visitors met (and did remarkably well in collecting rents – even from those who try to avoid paying!)
Finally – I was particularly pleased to welcome the Bibliomaniacs to the fair. Most of you will have heard of them by now. All aged 10-13, they are a book club from Papplewick school in Ascot, who sell old books, create catalogues, and put me to shame with their descriptions. One of my fair highlights was the look on the faces of the lads as I showed them around the two fairs and pointed out beautiful objects. I believe the children are our future, teach them well, and let them lead the way. (Sorry). Thank you to everyone for making the boys feel welcome, and it was fabulous to see that several of the dealers have donated them items to sell on, and help develop them into the next generation of book sellers.
The PBFA fair at the ILEC suite in the Ibis hotel is almost underway. In a couple of days we shall be depositing our dogs at the kennels, and rushing up to London to lay out the tables, prepare the reception, and get ready to welcome the exhibitors.
In all the rush – it occurred to me that I had interviewed Tony about the Olympia fair last week, but had neglected to do the same for my own fair.
Well Marcia (my lovely wife and co-manager of the fair) is far more attractive than I am – so I thought you would all prefer to see an interview with her giving the last briefing for the ILEC fair.
Safe travels – whether you are and exhibitor or a customer, and we look forward to seeing you in Earls Court, at one of the events.