The 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair would be called in sports terms “A Super Bowl of Books.” The Fair was held this year in Pasadena, California, at the Convention Center, February 10-12. It alternates yearly between the Los Angeles area and San Francisco. Some 200 of the top book dealers in the world gathered to tempt bibliophiles with a plethora of rarities, meet clients new and old, and network with fellow members. One woman dealer observed in amusement that during set-up before the show the booksellers were colorfully dressed in quite a vast array of casual wear from cut-offs to tennis shoes, t-shirts and mismatched fashion statements. Come opening day, however, the group had miraculously transformed themselves into spiffy, polished, book selling gurus.
It was this crowd that my wife and I entered into on Friday afternoon, the first day of the show. This first day drew the most serious and eager book people. There was a buzz of excitement in the air and quite a few booths already had patrons. Imagine a museum quality display of thousands of rare books in every conceivable category and they are all for sale. This convention center venue was a good one—open, airy, well-lit. The rows of dealer booths were lined up with military precision. It would take me all three days of the show to get through them.