Hello, Book Collector

This spring has been exciting: more private sales, fewer public updates, deliberate plotting of the second Honey & Wax catalog. I was going to write “chess-like” plotting, but at this point it feels more like Tetris.

One of the happiest moments, which I meant to mark and then didn’t, was an unexpected shout-out to the first Honey & Wax catalog in The Book Collector.

A venerable English quarterly, The Book Collector was founded by Ian Fleming (yes, that one) back in 1952. Nicolas Barker has been the editor since before I was born. I regard The Book Collector the way I regard women’s suffrage: a surprisingly recent institution, historically, but one that feels as though it’s been around forever.

The first Honey & Wax catalog took a couple of months to design and print, but it’s no exaggeration to say that it was years in the making: I’d thought for so long about what I wanted my first catalog to be — and exhibited such neurotic behaviors during its final production. Thanks, Nicolas Barker, for spreading the word about Honey & Wax:

First Catalogue Review: Honey & Wax, Spring 2013

A surly senior bookseller, to whom I owe a lot, recently remarked that second catalogs are always an anticlimax. Not on my watch. Stay tuned.

Your Weekend, Explained

What are you doing this weekend? Let me tell you.

Tonight, Thursday, is the opening of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory, which runs through Sunday. Go get your armory on, then come visit Honey & Wax at the downtown Shadow Show! We’re Booth 603 at the Altman Building in Chelsea: 135 West 18th Street, Friday 5-9, Saturday 8-4.

Yes, there’ll be a 34-panel German symbolist shadow frieze (pictured) . . . but that’s just the beginning. Come see for yourself.

Know Your Books

After the intense wrapping-packing-shipping cycle of the holidays, fueled by caffeine and gingerbread, the best part of the new year so far has been getting out of the house.

(The worst part has been letting go of star intern Allie, who had to return to “college.” So she could “graduate.” Whatever. Call me?)

In January, I met up with a great group of neighbors and their books at Community Bookstore’s Know Your Books night, a public conversation about the books we keep and the reasons we hold on to them:

Find of the night: a group of meticulously (even obsessively) decorated manuscript notebooks, many covered in African-inspired patterns, produced by a Bristol abolitionist in the early nineteenth century. Not for sale, but a thrill to see.

The following week, at a private event, whip-smart members of the Smith College Club helped refine my thinking about the historic role of American women as book collectors, dealers, and curators.

I kind of love giving these talks: they remind me of how much I enjoyed teaching, but with wine at the end of the hour, instead of grading. I hope to do more of them.

Right now, though, I’m focused on getting to Santa Monica for the fair this weekend – have to give San Francisco a pass – and cataloguing new books for the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair in a couple of weeks.

If you’ll be in New York for the Greenwich Village Fair, come downtown and say hello! I’ll be somewhere on the auditorium floor, fussing with signage.

Old Stone House Pix

The holiday rush is rushing, and carrying Honey & Wax along with it, but before the new year is here, a note to say how great it was to open the season with a colonial houseful of Brooklyn booksellers on December 1!

Thanks to Open Air Modern, P.S. Bookshop, Book Thug Nation, Human Relations, Unnameable Books, Singularity & Co., Prints Charming, and Freebird Books — and especially to Pete Hamill, whose sunset reading closed the (first annual) Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair at the Old Stone House. “Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.”

And special thanks also to Hugh Crawford for the pix!

Cue The Montage

I offer you a montage of the last two months, a time of intense packing, shipping, and unpacking. Historical context: a catalog, a hurricane, an election, a snowstorm, and a third-grade unit on Mexico. The soundtrack: loud.

In October, Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore launched their monthly First Edition Club, the first of its kind in New York City, with a panel discussion on the printed book in a digital age. I was thrilled to represent the local rare book scene, and got a little overexcited about Marianne Moore and zebra wallpaper. It happens.

A couple of weeks later, Honey & Wax exhibited at the first annual Designers & Books Fair at FIT, which brought together designers, publishers, and readers united by a shared fascination with the book. “Todd Oldham admired my Charley Harper,” a sentence I never thought I would say, I said.

Tonight I’m in Boston, on the first night of the 2012 Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. The highlight so far has been Francis Picabia’s portrait of Gertrude Stein, which Pittsburgh’s Caliban Book Shop is offering for a quarter-million. People, buy more books. We need a brisk Christmas season at Honey & Wax to make this purchase happen.

And looking ahead to the holiday season, mark your calendars for Saturday, December 1, when the First Annual Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair comes to the Old Stone House in Park Slope, featuring rare, vintage, and out-of-print books from emerging booksellers all over Brooklyn. At 4:30, the great Pete Hamill will read the 1906 first edition of O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” offered for sale by Honey & Wax, and then we can all have a drink.

Finally, the first Honey & Wax catalog is now available at the following link:

Honey & Wax Catalog One

But you know you can have a hard copy if you want. I’ll be at the post office anyway.