Day 2 –
Yesterday, the opening night of the fair closed at 10pm. I believe that this was the first time they closed so late and they did so because they were tired of having to shepherd people out at 9pm. I had originally thought that closing at such a late hour would mean that the final hour would consist of dealers being bored witless by the lack of attendees, but I was proven wrong.
There were approximately 50-60 people waiting to get in when the fair opened. Having never ‘done’ an opening night, I have no idea whether this was a good number or not. The weather had been, in typical Melbourne fashion, alternately windy/ rainy/ both all day, so I’d expected that this would affect the numbers. My rough estimate is that maybe 400-500 people came in last night.
As I am not really part of the industry, I don’t know the dealers well enough to get an idea of how well they did on the first day but the vibe seemed to be that things were mixed. Then again I suppose this is always the case! There were a few new members who were exhibiting for the first time. I only had the opportunity to speak to one newbie, who seemed to be enjoying the experienced but I hope that the others have also found it and enjoyable and successful experience so far.
I was chatting to a dealer yesterday who told me that there can be times of incredible mindnumbing boredom at fairs and you seem to be pacing up and down. He recommended that I give myself some time off today.
Naturally, I did.
Naturally, said time off involved food related expeditions.
However, by 3pm guilt overcame me and I headed back to the fair. I was accompanied by my little sister’s partner, who expressed an interest in coming along. He moved to Melbourne about 3/4 of a year ago from Springfield, Illinois. I don’t really know him but was surprised that he expressed an interest. Apparently he used to frequent a lot of bookstores back in the US and most of his books are still in storage there. I am not quite sure I could do that, personally, if I was moving countries. I’d want all my books with me! Nonetheless, the book business here can always do with a new collector so I encouraged him to get everyone’s catalogues and start buying books again.
In terms of the books at the fair, I think that my favourite items so far have been a couple of gorgeous fore edge painting items and the fair ‘catalogue’ produced by Paul Feain of Cornstalk Bookshop. It is less of a catalogue and more of a collectable. It consists of a series of 48 cards, in the manner of playing cards, with a photograph of the item on one side, and a short description of the item on the other, along with the price and the place of that card in that series (1). I will post a photo of these when I get back to Sydney and can get hold of a better camera, as I simply must share these enchanting items. Apparently Paul had a concertina ‘catalogue’ for a Tokyo fair a few years ago but I haven’t seen it yet. Other than these, one thing that has definitely struck me is that a number of dealers had ephemera relating to Sydney Harbour Bridge, which actually doesn’t make much sense to me given the parochial nature of collecting when it comes to Melbourne v. Sydney.
Tonight is the official bookfair dinner, which will be held at Masani Restaurant. Actually, now that I look at the time, we have to leave in 5 mins so I will finish….