Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Trip to the Akron Book Fair

Today being a nice day for a drive, I went down to the John S. Knight Center in Akron and attended the Northern Ohio Bibliophilic Society's 24th annual Akron Antiquarian Book Fair. Accompanying me was Rich Morgan, he of the amazing Morgan Library of Ohio Imprints, and his grandson.

The NOBS Book Fair has recently been held in Cuyahoga Falls on Good Friday and Saturday, but a ceiling collapse last year led to this change of venue, which also necessitated the change in weekends. But the change has a big upside in the Knight Center, which is so much pleasanter a place than the rather shabby (but affordable) places the fair has been hosted in past years. The big question now is whether the Downtown Jinx of all urban events will prevent the fair from achieving the numbers the Cuyahoga Falls locations saw. It's a shame that Akron and Cleveland events suffer from suburbanites' decisions to stay away from "downtown" venues (excepting perhaps sports stadiums and arenas), but it seems to be a fact of life. I hope the Book Fair proves to be an exception, once its supporters adjust to the changes.

I got to visit with old friends and fellow NOBS board members and purchased a few items. So many have closed their stores and are conducting business on the show circuit and/or the Internet that I don't get to socialize as frequently. The Book Fair remains one of the few places where I get to see these folks anymore. As I wandered from table to table, I could visit with people like patriarch Frank Klein, The Bookseller, and his daughter Andrea; Dave and Dan Harbaugh of Bay Books; Bill Owen, of North Coast American (who originally introduced me to NOBS in the early '90s); Jim Best, the Bookman of Kent; Bob and Marianne Novak, of After Five Booksellers; NOBS President Larry Rakow, of Wonderland Books; Mike Lahey, The Reading Doctor; Ellen Strong, the binder; Wes Williams, of Publix Books; and Kate McCormick, of Orbis Maps. I'm sure I'm leaving someone out, as there was a host of out-of-town dealers set up and people I know who I just missed. Also set up at the show were representatives of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, the Kent State University Press, the Summit County Historical Society and even Cara Gilgenbach, Special Collections Librarian at the Kent State University Library.

It would be very difficulty to find a friendlier, more literate and nicer group of people all in one place and in this increasingly more impersonal, on-line world, it was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Oh yes, and I acquired some nice items in the process, including a sales brochure on the Euclid Heights Allotment of 1896, on which subject I did my masters thesis a decade ago.