antiquated books
November 11, 2001

This Year's Bird Sightings:
Plum Island Year List

Today's Reading:
Tibet and Nepal by A. Henry Savage Landor, Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome

This Year's Reading:
2001 Book List

Believe it or not, I have never been to the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair until today. My used book jones has previously led me to compulsively searching and (and bibliofind when it still existed) in addition to my regular browses at Olde Port Book Shop (which I miss terribly) and the other bookstores I've tried to fill the void with, but until I read Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone I never really thought of myself as being in the rarefied world of book collecting. I mean, I mainly buy old books because I want to read them, not to collect them. But somehow, after reading the part of Used and Rare where the Goldstones drive all the way to Boston from western Massachusetts (out there where Acting Governor Jane Swift lives - a darn sight closer to Albany than to Boston) specifically to go to the book fair only to discover they had come on dealers only night, I decided I had to go just once - if only to harass Phil Person of Domino and/or David Bookstore.

So first we got stuck in traffic on Commonwealth Ave because we crossed paths with the Veteran's Day parade. Many veterans marched past waving flags. Many spectators lined the street waving flags. Many flags waved. All within sight of my objective. I could have left the car and walked to the Hynes Convention Center if only there were a parking space. If only... There is never a parking space just right there when you want one. So I watched the flags waving and the old soldiers marching until done.

Finally allowed to cross Comm. Ave, I zipped into the entrance to the Prudential Center garage and proceeded to wait in line. And wait in line. And wait in line. To park in the Pru garage now, one has to pass through a security checkpoint. You must show a picture ID to the guard and you must open the car's trunk for inspection. This takes awhile when there's an event at the Hynes and a ton of people doing their patriotic retail shopping duty at the Pru shops. How this prevents a plane from hitting the high rise Prudential building I don't know, but at least we're safe from a car bomb. I drove on into the garage secure in the knowledge that so far nobody had a bomb in the trunk of their car. But was there a parking space to be had? Nope. I drove around and around the maze and found no place to leave the car. Suddenly I was at the exit, in line to pay for the parking I hadn't found. How did I get to the exit while looking for a parking space? I have no clue.

I drove across the street and straight into the Copley Place garage. There is no security check. There are parking spaces. It occurs to me that if the bad guys wanted to take down the Pru all they'd have to do was put the device in the Copley Place garage. Weird thoughts. I feel uncomfortable thinking them.

The long trek across the mall, through the bridge or tunnel or sky walk or whatever you call it, through the Pru shops, and into the convention center takes another lifetime. I am beginning to think we will never get there. Finally there we are. Security is pretty tight there too. Different reasons. They don't want anybody walking out with a multi-thousand dollar rare book under their coat.

There followed close to three hours of pure bliss among Cotton Mather's diatribe against Roger Williams (complete with map of where Massachusetts ended and Rhode Island began), old souvenir picture books of the White Mountains and Lowell (it was hard to pass up the Lowell ones, after all it does fit in with the Merrimack Valley theme), first editions of everything from the aforementioned Cotton Mather to The Hobbit (signed by JRRT himself, only $150K) and On the Road, ephemera, botanical prints, bird prints, books older than Boston...

An awful lot of dealers had books about Afghanistan.

An announcement came over the PA system requesting the person who had inadvertently walked off with On the Road to please return it.

There were first editions of Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Even dealers specializing in Thoreau, though none seemed to have the journals.

When I finally find David Bookstore, he's sitting chatting with a bunch of bookseller cronies. I tell him since I started at Starship Startup I have no time to hang out having coffee with the morning coffee crowd. He says to come anyway.

There are way more books about Tibet in the late 19th early 20th century than I thought. Most of them I can't afford.

Oh what a place. Book heaven.

I chat with Phil Person of Domino about her being renamed Dust Jacket and tell him of my visits to Much Ado. It's great but it ain't Olde Port.

So with dealers from all over the world, from whom do I make my only purchase? You guessed it, Phil Person of Domino. He had an A & C Black travel book about Tibet and Nepal by Henry Savage Landor. A classic. I go the old friend of Domino discount. I love this book.

An announcement comes over the PA system. It's five o'clock and the book fair is closed. Sigh.

We have a splendid dinner at California Pizza Kitchen - love that Tuscan white bean hummus - and head back north to my hovel. We get home a lot faster than we got to Boston in the first place. No parade.

I spend the evening reading aloud to Nancy from Tibet and Nepal by Henry Savage Landor over the remaining ginger beer from Much Ado. Not a bad day at all.


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Copyright © 2001, Janet I. Egan