You know what I’m really good at? Buying books about bookbinding. I bought my first catalog of a bookbinding exhibit in April of 2000 (I still have the receipt). This is where my money goes, instead of feeding my family. Fortunately, since I’m good at it, I didn’t pay much for most of these. The Tarlau book is a notable exception in more than one way. I paid a lot for it and it’s a novel. My excuse? It’s a very thinly disguised autobiography. I can’t speak for the very personal details, but it’s about her experiences within the bookbinding community in France. Names have been changed, but even I can identify many of the characters. It’s an education.
Rare Book Week is a big deal in New York City, where density is your friend. Three simultaneous book fairs, plus auctions, exhibits (like InsideOUT, for a very brief visit at Bonhams), and events the entire week. It’s a destination week in a destination city.
Here we are mostly unpacked and have put on my table cover (required but not provided). Michelle is sorting books. Please note that the display case is how we found it: filthy, no shelves, oddly placed brackets, and a temporary electrical hook-up. All normal. Not to worry.
Thanks to team Red Queen, we had plenty of paper towels and glass cleaner. Ooops! I forgot all about that. I didn’t need them at Codex. While Michelle cleaned the showcase, I mentally mapped the book layout, including shelf placement. We deployed the tape measure, adjusted the brackets, and locked them down properly (a critical step to be repeated frequently). Then we carefully installed the glass shelves, well away from the slightly warm overhead fluorescent lights.
We start to place the books.
More books, and I change my mind.
Am I laughing because almost all of the books are in the display case?
The final arrangement, including iPad with videos of the kinetic features of Mark Cockram’s
Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay, Eterniday
Not shown: MAC slipcase by Sonya Sheats; TOR by Timothy Ely, Oscar Gillespie, and Robert Rowe; and L’ombre d’un cri bound by Christine Giard. Those three are strategically placed in the display cases of Red Queen Book Arts.
Codex was massive and amazing. It was the best book fair debut an independent bookseller could hope for. I met pen pals in person, I made new friends, I saw old friends, I preached the gospel of contemporary fine art bookbinding, and I sold books. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond were very good to me.
Now I get to bring it all back home. Really. It’s about 20 blocks from home. I can walk there.