MIDWEST ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER
Vol. 11 No. 2 December 2005
Book fairs across the country continue to lose ground, but we were able to maintain our dealer participation, although we rented 10 fewer tables. Table rental is, of course, what our budget is based upon. The two day attendance was 659 — down 42 customers from 2004. Friday’s unloading and opening night’s weather was perfect, but on Saturday a hot and humid front caused discomfort everywhere. That’s when our attendance dipped.
On Saturday morning, a round table discussion was held on how the book fair could use the Internet more effectively. Many subjects were touched upon. Bruce Heningsgaard of Bird Books led the meeting and has volunteered his help to address Internet, web site, and related computer-generated advertising. Please contact Bruce at email@example.com with suggestions and leads. (Please note: This would be for those issues related to the Twin Cities book fair only.)
An informal head count at the exit door revealed 7 out of 10 customers left with purchases to be checked out (couples counted as one). Many later returned for further viewing.
Conclusion: The customer base in the Twin Cities is still very strong, but we’re down to the hardcore bookie — book people who still want to see, feel, and examine books. It’s the casual person who has deserted our event.
The 2006 Twin Cities Book Fair will be held again in the Progress Center — the same facility that has been used for the last 4 years.
Larry Dingman, [Mpls] Book Fair Coordinator
Letter From Book Fair Attendee
Larry Dingman writes: Just when you think you’ve seen it all — along comes a letter like this. I have removed the person’s name, but I think we need to share this:
December 2, 2005
Dear Larry Dingman,
A few years ago, I attended the Twin Cities Book Fair but did not pay the admission fee. I am very sorry about this and am including the admission fee with extra.
Please forgive me for holding back this money. May the Lord bless you in your work.
(Enclosed was a check for ten dollars.)
Fall 2005 DePaul Book Fair Report
Per DePaul Book Fair Manager Jan Van De Carr, we mailed out 5,600 postcards to people on our mailing list. We also sent press releases to local papers and ran ads in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Reader for the two weeks prior to the show. Publicity materials went to about 200 public libraries, the rare book libraries at all area universities and to independent book stores and an independent film house near DePaul. We ran an ad on the Internet and in the calendar of Book Source Monthly. Chicago and North Shore Magazines were contacted, but they didn’t list our event.
There were 313 people in attendance at the fair [up slightly], 23 dealers [down some], with 63 tables, participated in the event. Per Jan, overall, she heard good comments from the dealers present. The feedback she received indicated they really like the facility and the room we are in and unloading and loading were pretty easy. Regarding sales, every dealer she spoke with was fairly pleased with their sales and indicated they would probably return there next fall if we decided to hold the fair there again.
By Bill Castanier
Reprinted from the program guide of the 42nd Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show
How does someone become a bookseller? For Tom Zimmerman of Arlington Heights, IL, he was lured into the profession by cookbooks.
“I love cooking,” he said. Zimmerman began by buying cookbooks for himself and pretty soon he found himself selling his surplus books.”It is best to sell what you know.”
Zimmerman has been selling his cookbooks along with other collectible books at the Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show for more than 15 years. Zimmerman said he likes the Lansing show because it is extremely well organized for both dealers and customers. He also said both the size of the crowd and the numbers of dealers have remained consistent during the last decade while most of the other shows in the midwest, including Chicago, are faltering.
If you stop by Plain Tales Books you will see several hundred collectible cookbooks and ones of recent vintage for sale. He said that in addition to cookbooks by MJK Fisher and Elizabeth David, you will find the traditional Betty Crocker cookbooks.
He said he has numerous customers who are looking for the same cookbook that their mother used when they were kids. Cookbooks have also found their way into academic collections with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan both having significant holdings.
Besides the Lansing show, Zimmerman does about six other major shows in the midwest each year, mostly in Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Minnesota. Like most dealers, he also sells online.
Zimmerman is also typical of a large number of dealers who sell books out of their homes while working a full-time job. He recently retired from a job with the state of Illinois which enables him to scour library and estate sales in the Chicago area for books.
Even though Zimmerman and most other dealers acknowledge you can buy books all day long on the Internet, you still can’t replicate a book show and the thrill of making a serendipitous “find” and holding it in your hands.
In addition to rare cookbooks, Zimmerman’s thrill comes from collecting typography books, especially those by the little known Catholic priest Edward Catich.
If you can credit anyone for Zimmerman’s obsession and second career it’s Catich, who was a professor at St. Ambrose’s in Davenport, Iowa, where Zimmerman attended art school. Catich instilled in him a love of books.
In addition to Catich’s own books on typography and calligraphy, Catich resurrected the work of Eric Gill, a British artist and typographer who is known for his type designs including a popularly used sans serif type.
Zimmerman has a simple piece of advice for foragers in the book collecting milieu: “Everybody gets their turn.” Your turn may be coming up.
MWABA Member Author of New Book
Paul Garon, of Beasley Books and Chicago Rare Books, has just co-authored (with Gene Tomko) a new book: What’s the Use of Walking if a Freight Train is Going Your Way? Black Hoboes and Their Songs. As Chicago was the major rail center at the turn of the century, it figures in the songs of dozens of hoboes. The book is heavily illustrated and contains many first person accounts of blues-singing hoboes like Honeyboy Edwards, Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams and others, as well as lyrics to over 100 hobo songs. Included with the book is a CD with 25 of the best songs.
This is the first book of its kind and the first collection of hobo songs to be published in 75 years.
Chicago Rare Books, 703 Washington St. Evanston, IL, will host a book signing for this new book and Paul on Friday, January 13, from 5 to 8 p.m. Free refreshments! Please join us!
Paul is also the author of 3 other books on blues: The Devil’s Son-in-Law: The Story of Peetie Wheatstraw and His Songs: Blues and the Poetic Spirit; and (with Beth Garon) Woman With Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues.
The book is published by Charles H. Kerr Co., Chicago, 300 pages, paperback , $22. available from the publisher, the authors, or at Chicago Rare Books.
Former Member Is Ill
Nancy Laird, a (former) member of Midwest Bookhunters for many years, has been ill recently — she suffered a stroke and has been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. Like many other booksellers, she did not have health insurance. She moved down to Mountain Home, Arkansas from Chicago about nine years ago, to be close to her cousin Juanita Shearer (since deceased), and planned to run her book business through the Internet. I’m sure she’d appreciate a card or note from MWABA members. Her address is: Nancy Laird, Auburn Hills Health & Rehabilitation Center, 3545 Hwy 5 North, Mountain Home, AR 72653-5672.
Address Changes for Members
Jim Andrews and Eimi Andrews- Rose have a new business address:
Andrews and Rose
8008 Pokagon Road
Berrien Center, MI 49102
Marjorie and Bob Weaver of Books on Main also have new address:
520 S. Main St.
Findlay, OH 45840
And they also have a new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2005 Bookfair Survey
Earlier this year, I helped with the issuance of a Book Fair survey to our membership. The objective of this survey was to ask members to provide direction for the MWBH Board regarding the fall Chicago book fair and to help shape future book fairs and other activities.
Thirty-one members graciously took the time to fill out the survey completely. Another 15 members, although they had not participated in any Chicago area book fair in the past three years, took the time to send in their comments as well.
Below, the results of the 31 book fair participants are broken down in detail. The comments that were sent in by all members are also included in the report unedited, just as they were written.
These results were provided to the MWBH Board for the July meeting in Minneapolis, and were thoroughly discussed at this meeting. The results of this survey guided the board, and will continue to be referenced in the future.
On behalf of the Board, I thank everyone for their cooperation and help with this endeavor.
Autumn Leaves Books, Inc.
The results of the book fair survey are extensive, and far too complex to publish here, so we have made a pdf file for you to download if you want to examine the results more closely. Survey Results.
In additon to the survey results, we also received the following thoughtful letter from George Ritzlin.
General Remarks on the Midwest Bookhunters Membership 2005 Survey
“With an open shop, and Saturday usually our busiest day, we are not interested in two day MWBH Fairs. The decreasing gate was also an issue, with not only fewer sales, but much less follow-through after the fair.
This is a problem suffered by other art and antiques shows, partly because of the proliferation of these events, time pressures of modern life on families, and the Internet cutting out the casual book buyer who in previous years might have made time to visit the fair.
Our experience in recent years in all but the high admission fairs is that the public is less interested in taking time to build a collection (instant gratification), and even less interested in building a reference library (they want sound-bites). Manners and common sense have also dissipated — at the last DePaul fair we did, we lost several, expensive acid-free mats to greasy fingerprints, and another to some idiot who dropped a red marking pen in the display bin.
Question M: The number of dealers probably won’t increase until the gate increases; the fair looked sad at Loyola last week, even with clever placement of booths. If costs could be kept within a similar range, perhaps a smaller but “classier” venue could be found, i. e. Women’s Clubs/Community Centers. These are usually centrally located, have some architectural character, have at least some parking, and would certainly give the show a fresh look.
Question R: Again, with fewer exhibitors, the tighter the budget for advertising — and with so many events competing for attention, it’s harder and harder to get p. r. — we didn’t notice any ads, nor did we hear any public service announcements. So…
Any chance of hooking up with one of the scores of reading clubs that have popped up over the years? Get one of those “book club facilitators” to give a short talk, emphasizing that if a classic is chosen, a good source for copies is your friendly, out-of-print bookseller.
What about a guest lecturer on preserving one’s books, someone from the Center for the Book, or the Newberry, or the like. It’s been done before, but maybe it’s time to do it again. It’s important it be a guest, for p. r. value.
A local author (there are hundreds, it seems) with a good speaking style, to talk about How Books Influenced My Life, Affected My Writing Style, etc. etc. Doesn’t have to be an author of a book, a journalist would be o.k., again for p.r. value.
Finally, not on the survey, but a comment on the latest Directory: the inconsistency in alphabetizing. Some of us are listed by our first names, i. e., under “E” for Ed Ripp, Eugene Hughes, but under “D” for Ann Dumler. I believe we were previously listed under “R” for Ritzlin, just as we are in the ABAA and other directories, but here we’re under “G” for George.
George Ritzlin .”
In Response to George’s Question re Directory:
Alphabetization in the directory has been a problem since the beginning. When I took over the job of making the directory, there was little, if any, consistency at all in the alphabetization, and it has actually been my goal to make it consistent. Over the years I really have been trying find a way to do that which will please everyone.
At some point, it was decided that we would alphabetize according to business name if there was one, and if not, according to personal name. Thus, John Adams would go under ‘A’ for Adams, but John Adams: Bookseller would go under ‘J’, since, technically, it was no longer a personal name, but rather a designated business name. This is consistent with some commonly recognized rules for alphabetization in this instance. And there does appear to be some precedent for this format as it is consistent with the method of alphabetization used in the white pages of the phone book.
For example, Ethan Allen Carriage House (all bold), a furniture company, is under ‘E’, and Francis W. Parker School (all bold) is under ‘F.’ But, Garber, Sidney, well known jeweler, is bold under ‘G’, with the letters ‘jwlr’ in small non bold letters after it. Fausone, Mary, MD is under ‘F.’ Yet, June R. R. Nichols Ocularist, LTD, all bold, is found under ‘J.’
On the forms I mail, there is a space marked business name. I assume that whatever is in that space is what you consider to be your official business name. Thus, I alphabetize by your business name, and not your personal name, according to our chosen guidelines. And so, George Ritzlin Maps & Books goes under ‘G.’ Just as in the example above where June, the Ocularist, is listed under J.
If you list no business name and use only your personal name, with no extra descriptors added, then you will be alphabetized by last name, as in the above Sidney Garber example.
However, there is always room for interpretation in all of this, because R.R. Donnelley and Sons is found under Donnelley, R.R. and Sons. Whereas, Marshall Field & Co was listed under ‘M’.
This year I re-alphabetized a number of people in order to maintain consistency. Bernie Rost-Bookseller was one. Bernie had pointed out to me that according to my method of alphabetization, he should be under ‘B’ not ‘R’ since his business name was listed as Bernie Rost-Bookseller. So, in order to be consistent I moved him into the business name category under ‘B.’ Unfortunately, though, I am not perfect and this year I still didn’t get it all right, Ann Dumler Books, which should have gone under ‘A,’ is the wrong place, under ‘D.’
Unfortunately, also, I have found over the years that it is nearly impossible to please everyone. Each time the directory is published, someone comments on the alphabetization. That’s why I continually try to find a better method. We can choose any other method, but whatever method we do finally choose must be used consistently throughout. We cannot alphabetize according to individual preference. There are too many different opinions, and alphabetization by personal choice makes it too confusing for the end user.
In the meantime, please fill in the membership forms considering how you prefer to be alphabetized. If you prefer your listing read as a business name, then put Fred Jones: Bookseller, or Really Good Books or whatever, in the proper field; and you will be alphabetized by the first lettter of that phrase. But if you want to be alphabetized according to your last name, then just fill in your personal name with no added descriptors. It’s usually pretty clear what your specialty is in your business description, and it goes pretty much without saying that 99.9% of what most of you sell is books.
You will be receiving dues letters for 2006 shortly.