Seattle Book Fair Report by Douglas Stewart
From their emails, the organisers seemed easy going and on top of everything, which pretty much defines the culture of the city. There was no fuss, the local trade were very welcoming and a bit chuffed that their local fair was attracting international attendees such as Peter Harrington from London and some guy from Australia.
During the setup I said hi to the US dealers I know from the other fairs and also met local dealers who don’t travel to the larger fairs. With about 100 exhibitors, the Seattle fair is one of the largest in the US, after the ABAA fairs in California, New York and Boston.
Literature featured heavily on the booths, it seems the Seattle collectors are fans of a good read. We had brought a boutique selection representative of our stock, mainly voyages, art and private press, including a Kelmscott Chaucer, which was the only example in the room for a change (there were no less than 5 copies for sale in New York this year). This, of course, attracted some attention, as well as a lovely fifteenth century Book of Hours and some rare private press from the collection of Alan Loney of Melbourne.
We actually sold quite a bit to the trade, mainly exploration related items we have had for sale for some time. This is not that unusual, because the book fairs afford an opportunity to handle and appreciate the material in the flesh that online listings just cannot replicate.
We sold most of the private press and picked up a couple of new collectors which was the aim. I bought quite an eclectic mix, including a rare book on the martyrdom of Jesuit martyrs in Japan in 1620 and complete run of the 70s San Francisco punk journal Search and Destroy. Quite a few collectors came down from Vancouver, only a few hours away, so after the fair I caught the ferry up to Victoria (the capital of British Columbia) for a couple of days and then up to Vancouver to visit friends and do some more scouting (the journey is stunning). I bought a nice collection of early atlases including a gigantic eighteenth century d’Anville atlas nearly 80cm tall, which I had shipped directly to LA for the February fair.
The Seattle fair is a friendly and enjoyable fair, especially if you combine it with a visit to Vancouver or perhaps LA or San Francisco. The weather was fine and the coffee freshly brewed. I also recommend a visit to the Seattle Art Museum, which has a fine collection of Australian Aboriginal paintings. It was the fourth fair we exhibited at in the US in 2018 (after Pasadena, San Francisco and New York), as well as shows this year in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne. The booths are not expensive and the local dealers more than happy to help visiting trade. Nothing beats a good book fair for finding new titles and new faces to interact with, and the locals love hearing an Aussie accent (my not-so secret weapon). I’m looking forward to returning in the future and recommend it as a great weekend away for booksellers and collectors.
Douglas Stewart Fine Books Pty. Ltd. is an antiquarian bookseller based in Melbourne, Australia. Douglas has traded in antiquarian books since 1995 and exhibits regularly at international, ILAB-affiliated book fairs. For many years Douglas has been a board member of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB); he is also a Mentor for the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. Douglas is currently the Vice-President of ANZAAB.
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More information about the Seattle Book Fair can be found on the website: www.seattlebookfair.com
This article was first published in the Newsletter of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers, ANZAAB.
The full newsletter is available for download below.