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2009 - Sydney

Published on 17 April 2012

“The doomsayers who predict the death of the book have yet again been repulsed!”

Rare books, prints, maps, photographs, manuscripts and ephemera from  $10 to $100,000  –  Leading antiquarian booksellers from Australia and New Zealand presented extraordinary objects at the 36th Australian Book Fair, organized by the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB) from November 12th to 14th, 2009.

“The doomsayers who predict the death of the book have yet again been repulsed!” ANZAAB President Peter Tinslay was delighted to announce good sales and many visitors: “The Book Fair was a great success, the Mitchell and Dixson Galleries proving to be an ideal venue for showcasing better quality books. The Fair was officially opened in a short ceremony by the acclaimed Australian writer David Malouf, who was introduced by the State Librarian Regina Sutton. A large number of people attended to view the attractive displays of collectible books offered by the booksellers who exhibited. Many young people visited, attracted by the idea of the book in its traditional form”.

“There are a good many people these days who believe that the book as we know it is on the way to oblivion. Quite soon, they assure us, the term 'rare books' will be a tautology. Any survivor of that already threatened species will of its very nature be rare. Well, that may happen and it may not. In the long history of reading, many changes have taken place. The papyrus scroll, after long centuries, was superceded by the double-sided vellum codex – not immediately replaced, since the two existed side by side for nearly four centuries; rather, in the way of these things, supplemented. Then the codex gave way to the printed book, and that, too, in these last years has been supplemented – only sometimes replaced – by the paperback. Will readers five or ten years from now really accept the electronic screen, even a highly portable one, as their only form of reading – a novel, say, for pleasure only and in their private hours? The new technology offers great convenience for storage of course, but we have yet to see whether future generations will be willing to give up the pleasurable convenience of having a bound book in their hands, of experiencing the texture and also the smell of cloth and paper, and the variousness with which light falls on a page ... “ (David Malouf, in Book Fare 2009)

The Book Fair was accompanied by a variety of exhibitions and panel discussions with well-known Australian collectors and antiquarian booksellers. Hordern House presented a copy of Gould's “Mammals of Australia”, one of the most appealing of all Australian illustrated books, and a large-paper copy of Smith's “Specimen of the Botany of New Holland”, the first separately published book on the Australian flora. A newly discovered 1807 Paris edition of George Barrington’s voyage to Botany Bay, not recorded in any collection or bibliography, was to be admired at Douglas Stewart Fine Books. The Antique Bookshop brought the incunabulum “Tibullus, Catullus and Propertius” published in Venice 1487. Cornstalk showed  John Browne’s “Compleat Treatise of the Humane Body”,  with the book-plate of George Wakeman, and Harbeck Rare Books offered 120 rare and unusual German Australiana and Pacifica items from New Zealand, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and other Pacific Islands as well as German New Guinea, including books, prints, maps, photographs and manuscripts ranging in date from 1702 to 1971. “Merely the menu, not the banquet itself” - these are only some of the treasures that were showcased at the 36th Australian International Book Fair in November 2009.

>>> Book fair impressions 2009 (The photos are presented here by permission of Peter Tinslay. Thank you very much.)

>>> Book Fare 2009, the occasional ANZAAB Newsletter, shows the highlights among the books and prints that were exhibited at the 36th Australian Book Fair 2009 - Available as a pdf file

>>> Book Fare 2008, ANZAAB Newsletter on the occasion of the 35th Australian Book Fair 2008 - Available as a pdf fileorg


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