I walked into the Park Avenue Armory on Saturday afternoon for the ABAA Bookfair and I could have sworn I heard angelic voices singing from on high. Were my feet even touching the ground? I don’t recall. Without exaggerating, I could have easily dropped $30K. The fattest morsel there was as a signed first edition of “Wait Until Spring, Bandini” by John Fante for $8,500. There were also a few primo Graham Greene first editions and an inscribed copy of “The Curtains are Waving” by Bukowski for a measly $3,500. It is SO worth that much! Walking in a bookfair is no different than walking in a casino. Money becomes an abstract and something that’s not really measurable. If $100 fell out of your wallet, you’d be pretty upset, but if you dropped $100 at a craps table in 7 minutes, you’d simply go to the bar, get a quick bloody mary and try again later. Same thing with the bookfair. Is $3,500 really all that much to spend on a book? Not if its got a great contemporary inscription!
Here’s the dirty little secret that the rare book world doesn’t want out: a first edition of “On The Road” by Kerouac is probably the least rare rare book there is. If it’s so scarce, why do I see about a dozen copies at every bookfair I attend? And people pay THOUDANDS for that book! There’s not doubt about it; people are lemmings.
Unfortunately, I walked out of the Armory empty handed. I’m buying a laptop and that’s just too much to spend in such a short amount of time. When the hell did I become so responsible? Not too long ago, I would have made a few clandestine purchases and snuck them onto my bookshelves before Mrs. Wife knew what hit her. Take my word for it, it’s easy to do. I hope this trend stops immediately. I am a disappointment to myself. I miss my deviousness
What a day. I met Miss H. before the bookfair at a little coffee joint on 2nd Ave. and 68th St. She was boning up for her finals and needed the distraction that only a charmer like me can provide. After the fair I took a stroll. There were blue skies over Park Avenue and the sunshine poured down onto my bookless, happy ass. I walked about a dozen or so blocks down Park and looked into the windows of the mega-wealthy to steal decorating ideas. I’ve surmised that wealth is not necessarily an accurate barometer for good taste.