Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mountains of Books - 31st October and 1st November 2009

My blog title today could refer to my life in general - I am sitting at my home desk, madly cataloguing to get through the last 10 boxes of a mountain of books I bought from a deceased estate this time last year; I am surrounded in my back room at the shop by mountains of books waiting to be shelved, sorted or otherwise disposed of; but in actual fact it refers to the book fair I and several colleagues are preparing for next weekend (31st October and 1st November). The idea for Mountains of Books Used, Rare and Out-of-Print Book Fair came to Meryll Williams and I as we returned from a book fair a couple of years back. Meryll is the popular proprietor of Rainy Day Books in The Basin, a foothills town nearby, and has been something of a mentor in my bookselling career. We roped in Sandy from Wormhole Books, the dapper Paul Trahair from Sad Paradise Books and Willie Williams from Kallista Books -Willie is a landscape gardener with a weekends-only bookshop in the same village as my shop.

They're a lot of work, book fairs, and not always financially rewarding for booksellers. I've been to a couple where I barely made enough money to cover the cost of my stall, but persist because of my experience at the Clunes Booktown weekend, where I always do very well. Finding a venue can be difficult, but we've set up in a pretty, historic hall in a picnic ground setting on the fringes of Sherbrooke Forest (and conveniently across the road from my house :-). Finding a date can be tough too - for our first one in 2008 we settled on what's known as the Melbourne Cup weekend (because it falls the weekend before the world-famous horse race on the first Tuesday in November) because the local Horticultural Society used to have an annual flower show that weekend - except that year they changed the date of the annual flower show! Finding the right mix of booksellers can also be a task - and last year we got it almost right.

This year we have been joined on the organising committee by the charming and industrious couple Sascha and Jeremy from the internet-only bookseller Lost and Found. We've got some local authors appearing for book signing and selling: Hanifa Deen; Ilsa Evans; Corinne Fenton; Macarthur Job & Nick Anchen. and while we have slightly fewer booksellers, they've all got more space and therefore more beautiful books to sell. The beauty of this fair is that most of our sellers are internet only dealers, meaning that the fair gives the public a unique opportunity to browse through some of their stock. Most of the sellers will be refreshing their stock throughout the weekend, so it'll be worth coming up at any stage during the weekend. All the booksellers deal in very good quality books, no rubbish to be found here, and the price range should provide something for everyone, with books from $10 - $1000

Here's an idea of what our sellers are bringing to the fair. If you are coming up, have a look at the internet stock of all our dealers before you arrive. If there is something in particular you'd like to see, they'll be happy to bring it along for you to the fair - there is nothing quite like holding a book and seeing it 'in person'!

Rainy Day Books has a cross-section of quality fiction and non-fiction. Meryll is a regular on Radio 3AW's Nightlife program so naturally she'll have copies of "Bruce's Bits and Phil's Philosophies" . Other highlights are Ross Napier's The Castlereagh line series, International garden photographer of the year - Books 1 and 2; Australian dreaming - 40,000 years of Aboriginal history; Medal of honor - portraits of valor beyond the call of duty - complete with dvd as well as a good selection of discounted paperback biographies.

Jill Braithwaite (Bookworm Ink) is a specialist children's bookseller. I've never seen as many collectible Enid Blytons in one place as I did last year on Jill's stall. She'll have a selection of Biggles; Mary Grant Bruce; Milly-Molly-Mandy; Ethel Turner; Cherry Ames; Bobbsey Twins; Rupert Annuals; Elsie J Oxenham; Angela Brazil; Elinor Brent Dyer; LM Montgomery..... Jill's table is always a highlight at any book fair she attends - a real trip down memory lane for many people (including myself).Sad Paradise Books: Paul is a generalist, but has an excellent range of books by and about the beat generation poets. This year at the fair he's offering 50% off marked prices on a selected range of Australiana, fiction, transport, the arts, Asia Pacific. Check out his online stock at

Joan Rogers has recently left The Old Bakery Cottage Bookshop in Warrandyte and is now selling online as The Book Fossicker from her new home in Clunes. She'll be bringing mainly non-fiction to Ferny Creek, with art, gardening and other kinds of related books - some biographies and history, it should be an interesting mix.

The elegant Pam Bakes of Page Two always has a beautiful stall. This year she plans to bring an eclectic selection of stock with a leaning towards fashion, art and architecture, plus some lovely Folio Editions, including a large format of Milton’s Paradise Lost in the original slipcase, classics Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights with a pale green moirĂ© silk binding, and a delightful copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Also in stock will be Caroline Rennolds Milbank's magnum opus Couture : the Great Fashion Designers, showcasing about 50 of the most famous including Worth, Lavin, Poiret, Fortuny, Chanel, Dior, St. Laurent and Balenciaga. For fashionistas who enjoyed the movie The September issue, Pam also has a pristine copy of the September 2007 issue of US Vogue (which was the subject of the film). Also in Pam's stock will be Willem de Kooning’s Vellums published for an exhibition held in New York in 2001. This is not readily available in Australia, but fans of the artist will be entranced by this beautiful copy. For lovers of Australian art there will be Judith Ryan’s studies of Ginger Riley and Kitty Kantilla, both published in conjunction with exhibitions at the NGV, plus Sandra McGrath’s seminal work on Brett Whiteley which, when published in 1979, was the first major work on this artist. Pam's website is .

Lost and Found are general booksellers and will be bringing books on a bewildering array of subjects. As well as a range of current and vintage fiction, they will be covering all aspects of gardening, art, hand crafts, militaria, Australiana, gorgeous children's books and interesting local histories, especially of the Dandenongs. And then there is the exotica... so esoteric it doesn't fit readily into any classification! Before you come, please check out their 14,000 books online - you can browse them by subject catalogue. Sascha and Jeremy will be happy to bring anything you are interested in to Mountains of Books for personal pick-up. You'll need to let them know by midnight on Wednesday

Kallista Books: Willie has an exciting range of ephemera on offer as well as his usual cross-section of gardening, hardware, non-fiction etc: Special mention must be made of his hardware & nursery catalogues from as early as 1880, and craft and gardening magazines.

And Vintage Cookbooks? Well the majority of my book fair stock will be books that haven't even hit the shelves in my shop yet: A good selection of Elizabeth Davids, including first editions of French Provincial Cooking and The Book of Mediterranean Food and English Bread and Yeast Cookery; a selection of Julia Child (what's left of it anyway) ; Charmaine Solomon; Marcella Hazan; Stephanie Alexander; Larousse Gastronomique. There'll also be lots of ephemera and early Australian cookbooks. As usual I'll also be bringing my complete stock of the more unusual cuisines: Scandinavian, Russian, Middle East, Eastern European; Phillipines; Indonesian etc etc etc.

It promises to be a great weekend for booklovers. Do come and introduce yourself to me and receive a 10% discount off Vintage Cookbooks stock. And remember any time is a good time to come - there'll be new stock going onto the tables throughout the weekend. The details are:

Saturday 31st October 10 - 5 & Sunday 1st November 10 - 4

Ferny Creek Recreation Reserve Hall, Hilton Rd, Ferny Creek, Victoria

Here's the Google Map

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