Well, it’s that time of year again. After the July to September doldrums are over we begin to feel the trade winds quickening and suddenly it’s all hands on deck.
That’s what you get for overindulging on International Talk Like A Pirate Day!
What I actually mean is that Book Fair season has come around again. Traditionally York Book Fair is the first milestone in early September, after we’ve spent a couple of months doing the tweed-clad equivalent of hibernating and using up our fat reserves.
(Not that you could tell from looking at most of us, we look like the European Fat Reserve, well, except for Pierre our shop manager…he’s sleek like some sort of cat, or maybe he’s what a vampire would look like if you could get them to tan, and be French, and provide croissants in the morning…curse his buttery treats!)
After York, where we usually buy our weight (I sense a theme) in lovely books and return to London all smug and bearing gifts (beware of geeks bearing gifts), this year we have Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair which we have never done before, closely followed by Chelsea Antiquarian Book Fair , which for us is like going home, seeing as we were actually born just across the road from the venue.
Chelsea fair by the way, is one of the last bastions of traditional, grumpy, Troll Market style book-dealing. For the unitiated it’s the bibliophilic equivalent of building yourself up to asking out someone you think is way out of your league, only to find that they’ve secretly fancied you for ages. You can get a free ticket off the website (here), then arrive at Chelsea Old Town Hall to be greeted by something that looks like a cross between Mos Eisley’s cantina, a time-traveller’s convention and a rather steampunk orgy taking place in the Bodleian Library (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!).
Once you’ve got over the shock though, you can just cavort through fields of books! Incunabula to ultra-moderns, Darwin to John The Revelator through Dawkins to Joyce then back round in a majestic curve that will sweep through Fleming, blast past Dickens and Doyle and then probably screech to halt in front of a stand selling everything from Second World War Underground posters to nineteenth century Russian photograph albums. We like Chelsea Book Fair, it’s like the last Lancaster Bomber holding its own in a sky full of jets.
After Chelsea comes the mammoth Boston Antiquarian Book Fair, but more on that later.