Shakespeare never did this

bookdisplaysmall2Stopped by the Los Angeles Antiquarian Book Fair at the Century Plaza on Friday. Well, “stopped by” isn’t exactly accurate, as you can’t just “stop by” either the hotel or the book fair, since both are kind of a pain in the ass to visit, but you get the point.

Carol’s artist’s book was there, being shown by two booksellers (a book that is in the permanent collection at UCLA, and was just purchased this week by the friggin’ Getty Museum, I might add!). One of them was displaying it in a case with a giant Marc Chagall book containing original paintings…but I digress.

An antiquarian book fair, by definition should be rooms full of really old books. And there were lots of really old books available for perusal and purchase (if your pockets are deep enough), little tidbits like pages from a Gutenberg bible, 450 year old science books and political tracts…you know, all that everyday stuff.

But I was checking into the more contemporary booths where one might turn up some, oh, I don’t know — Bukowski or something.

itcatchesSo imagine the most rare and elusive Bukowski item you can think of — there were probably at least two copies of it there. I can say that with some confidence, and I only saw half of the booths.

So yeah, it was big. Booksellers from all over the world. It was sensory overload this place, and really fucking warm down there in the lower floors of the hotel, unfortunately.

That didn’t deter a bunch of Hollywood types from scouring the booths, looking for things that interested them. I recognized a lot of faces, but they aren’t the kind of folks who’s names leap immediately to mind. Sort of a “you’d know ’em if you saw ’em” kind of deal.

Though I did find myself browsing old children’s books and signed Charles Shultz books next to magician Ricky Jay who was taking a breather on a chair while everyone who walked by said to him, “They have a lot of magic books at booth XYZ!” “Yes, thank you,” he would say with a smile, “I’ve already spent far too much money there.” Hey, you wanted to be a famous magician.

flowerfistThe book fair runs all weekend if you’re in the area. It’s $15 to get in, $20 for parking, and a sandwich and a couple of drinks in the hotel lobby bar will set you back $40, but it’s a swanky day out if you’re in the mood to look at books. Lots and lots of books.

I didn’t buy anything. Just the drinks in the hotel lobby bar. Much of the high end Bukowski stuff was in the four to five thousand dollar range. Carol pointed out that his books were commanding higher prices than any of the more famous “Beat” writers at the fair.

So there you have it. Fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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