Friday, March 12, 2010

The Largest Vintage Paperback Book Fair in the World

Yesterday, I catalogued the Macclesfield copy of the important and highly significant third edition (1617) of CopernicusDe revolutionibus orbium coelestium, published in the Dutch Republic, a Protestant country, a year after papal censors had added the book to the Index Prohibitorum. This edition brought Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the heavens to a broad readership. It's a very rare book.

It’s tough to catalog while in the midst of a swoon.

Next Sunday, March 21, 2010, I’ll be swooning all day at the 31st Annual Paperback Collectors Show and Sale here in Southern California.

Tom Lesser is an attorney and one of the leading figures in the vintage paperback world, with an extremely impressive collection. Thirty-one years ago he established the Paperback Collectors Show just so he could get together with his friends and other collectors to enjoy the hobby.

Twenty years ago, Rose Idlet, the grand doyenne of vintage paperback dealers, of Black Ace Books in Los Angeles, joined Tom in producing the show. In recent years they have been aided by Santa Barbara-based rare book dealer James Pepper.

The show is the last of the old fashioned book shows in California and has grown into the largest vintage paperback show in the world. It is a simple, no frills affair, completely unpretentious. The exhibitor-tables are invitingly inexpensive; dealers from across the country converge en mass to exhibit. Collectors flock to Southern California from across the USA and the globe to attend.

For a number of the collectors and dealers, this is the only show that they exhibit at or attend during the year. Even during difficult times the show has its own cult following of people who come to find all kinds of unusual and rare paperback books, often at relatively modest prices.

Further, the Paperback Collectors Show and Sale routinely features upwards of forty authors and illustrators of vintage paperbacks to sign collectors’ copies of their books; Ray Bradbury is a regular.

All this for a measly $5 admission fee.

I’ve been attending the Paperbacks Show for close to ten years now. I always manage to find something of interest at a reasonable price. Many if not most of the dealers who exhibit at the Paperbacks Show do not list on the Internet; they operate through catalog-driven sales. You’ll find stuff at the show not otherwise readily available. The Net is great for finding specific books you seek. It is lousy for searching for things you don’t know exist, and that fact provides the single most significant reason for the ongoing importance of all book fairs and the primary justification for their existence. If you’ve been looking for a particular paperback and have struck-out searching the Net, there’s a real possibility that you’ll find it at the Paperbacks Show.

If you’re new to book collecting and are daunted by prices for hardcovers, consider beginning your journey with vintage paperbacks.

They’re just as cool as Copernicus but while they may not have shaken the world when published they can still provide the shivers: their cover illustrations are routinely and magnificently sensational.

Imagine De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium reissued and retitled by a paperback publisher c. 1950: The Sun is the Center, She Said, with a cover illustration featuring a half-naked babe in ecstatic transport as she holds the Sun above her head while planting a stiletto high heel upon the heaving chest of a priest reassessing his vows.


WHERE: Guest House Inn. 10621 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills, CA 91345.
WHEN: Sunday, March 21, 2010.
For further information call Tom Lesser at 818 349-3844 or Black ace Books at 323 661-5052.

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