Book Madness in Seattle

There is so much book related stuff going on this week in Seattle that Mayor Greg Nickels has designated it “Book Collecting Week.”

Here’s what’s happening:

The premier non-new book event in the Pacific Northwest, The Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair & Book Arts show, takes place the weekend of the 13th and 14th at the Seattle Center Pavilion. With close to 100 exhibitors from around North America and as far away as Germany you are bound to see some of the best books, manuscripts and ephemera currently on the market. The exhibitors this year are particularly strong with many being members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America.

Don’t let the word “antiquarian” keep you away, you don’t have to be a high-end book collector to enjoy this event. If there are books in your life on any level then this is a can’t miss event.

The Miniature Book Society is holding its Grand Conclave in Seattle on the same weekend. The society, chartered in 1983 , is an international non-profit organization whose purposes are to “sustain an interest in all phases of miniature books, provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and to serve as a clearing house for information about miniature books.”
This gathering is sure to set the Seattle record for the most people here at one time who have a love for books 3″ or smaller!

Anne Bromer, a bookseller and co-author of the beautiful new monograph on Miniature Books published by Abrams in association with the Grolier Club, will also be giving a talk at the pre-fair dinner co-sponsored by the Book Club of Washington.

Also at this dinner the winners of the Fine Books & Collections Magazine 2007 Collegiate Book Collecting Championship will be given their awards. Did you know that three dozen colleges and universities host book-collecting contests for their students every year?

The subject matter of the top three collections this year are:
1.”Landmarks of Classical Scholarship”
2. “Drama of Oceania”
3. “Mathematician Emil Artin”

In the introduction to the 1934 book New Paths in Book Collecting John Carter, who worked in the Rare Book Department at Scribner’s for over 20 years, says:

The enterprising novice must be made to realize how infinite are the possible variations on the book collecting theme. A collection of “high-spots may sound the chord of C major…yet there are other and more subtle harmonies, the pleasantest are those we evolve for ourselves…By rearranging familiar books according to some constructive plan, a new significance is added to them and, which is more, the unfamiliar, the neglected books, will acquire significance by their context.

For over 70 years booksellers have been worried that there isn’t a next generation book collector, that once this generation kicks it there will be hardly enough book collectors to sustain a trade. An event like this reminds us of the permanency of collecting. There will always be a healthy amount of collectors.

The Lewis Carroll Society of North America has also decided to visit Seattle this weekend for its fall meeting. The organization consists of Carroll admirers of all ages and interests and are interested in keeping Carroll, the creator of Alice in Wonderland, relevant in today’s world.

There is also one ongoing book related event that is worthy of mention and that should be on the itinerary for all those coming to town and for all us book types that live in town.

The seminal exhibit Shu: Reinventing Books in Contemporary Chinese Art is on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum through December 2. The show was organized by the China Institute and was curated by Wu Hung, a leading Chinese art scholar. The exhibit was originally held in two parts featuring over 20 artists; almost all are part of the post Cultural Revolution generation and for all books are an integral part of their work. It is a great opportunity to see the power of the book in all its glory. I will have a dedicated post on the show shortly.

There is a lot of book energy in this town.

Last photo of Yue Minjun’s “Garbage Dump” by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

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