top of page

New York Rare Book Week

ANYA SCHULTZ, HOST: It's New York Rare Book week and over 200 independent booksellers have gathered for the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. In the age of online book buying, dealers are finding renewed interest in local and specialized books. Sarah Gelbard has the story.

SARAH GELBARD, BYLINE: At the church of St. Ignatius on the Upper East Side, a large crowd gathers to explore collections of books and other rare items. There is everything from ancient medical textbooks to 19th century children's literature, a Nobel Prize winning Bob Dylan speech, first editions of Steinbeck and more. Fred Pajerski from New York City sells photography books. He describes one book with military images from Camp Wissahickon listed at $125.

PAJERSKI: The images are of the gun batteries and the training sessions. It's a very informative, terrific piece of documentation, probably from around 1920 or so, which is on the late side for this type of viewbook. Whoever buys that is going to be very happy. All I hope is that the person who's going to be happy will be here today.

GELBARD: Thomas Horrocks and Jessica Kahan are looking for books from very different genres.

HORROCKS: I collect on a very low level Abraham Lincoln and also American presidential campaign biographies.

CAHAN: I'm here today looking for 1920s and 1930s romance novels in their original dust jackets.

GELBARD: Marvin Getman organized this fair and others across the Northeast. When online and ebook sales started, he was concerned that it might cut into sales of antiquarian books, but instead he has found increased interest.

GETMAN: Digital books don't last. I mean, yeah, they might be there forever, but there's not something you can look at and appreciate and smell and pass on to your children. Maybe it's a resurgence. I think there was a lull 10 years ago, but we're really seeing this very big interest, especially from young people. We get just loads of young people with interest in books coming through.

GELBARD: Bookseller Frank Wood is also optimistic.

FRANK WOOD: We're surviving. So it's been great and we've seen an uptick at the shows and in our bookshop. I think the internet got people interested in things and then they thought, well, maybe I should look locally for these things.

GELBARD: His son Sam Wood came with his dad. He's wearing a jacket with pins from the Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-Head and a Swedish band called The Helicopters. He's trying to decide if this is what he wants to do with his life.

SAM WOOD: He works really hard. I don't know if I'm dedicated enough to work as hard as he does. We'll figure it out as time goes on.

GELBARD: Stacy Waldman from House of Mirth Photos describes a favorite in her collection, on sale for $4,995. She says her items are unique, so online competition doesn't affect her.

WALDMAN: I'm selling unique items. So that doesn't affect me at all. So, you know, I love what I do.

GELBARD: The Book Fair continues this weekend in New York City. Sarah Gelbard, Columbia Radio News.


bottom of page