Are we there yet?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

It's the Cafe New Year's Encore!



Last January we wrote,

No one can accuse Howell of being heartless. He not only has one, he will sell it to you in a fortnight.

And he did! A buyer at the 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair snapped up Jack the Ripper: A Bloody Alphabet (Illustrations by Kristi Wyatt. Richards, Sean E. Norman, OK: Byzantium Studios Limited, 2014. Limited edition of 95 copies, this is one of 20, signed and numbered 14, and housed in a human-heart-shaped box, and includes a wooden anatomical specimen stand for display). “I have been specializing in miniature books, fine press books, especially those of California presses, and have a mix of Limited Editions Club titles, as well as scholarly books in all fields and most Western Languages. I also carry material on California and the West. My catalog Number 1 was published in May of 2011 and included 113 books issued by the Book Club of California. Since then I have been issuing occasional lists on California History, early printing, and a few miscellanies,” Howell reports on his website.


JohnHowell.jpg

The model of a modern rare bookseller, Howell does business online and at California book fairs. Among them, you’ll be able to find him at this year’s 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Oakland, February 10-12, 2017 at Booth 914, heart and all.

In addition to showing Rare Book Cafe viewers a number of rare works he planned to offer at the book fair, Howell also discussed the latest developments in the story of AB 1570, California’s ill-considered and controversial rare book regulator’s law. The law, adopted in September 2016, was repealed this past summer.

Last January was Howell’s first appearance at the Cafe since it launched its second series in December 2016. He’s a graduate of California State University, Fullerton (European and Church History), and an Ph.D. aspirant in American Colonial and the Early Republic History at UCLA. Of the latter, he jokes he holds an ABD- “All But Dissertation, the bookseller’s degree!” (which calls to mind another hoary academic wheeze: “How many doctoral candidates does it take to change a lightbulb?” “One, but it will take forever”).

Howell got his start in the book trade with a five-year stint at Barnes & Noble, He moved into rare books as an eight-year cataloguer for Jeff Weber Rare Books before hanging out his shingle online in 2004.

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Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

The program’s regular guests include Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.

We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers:A Bric-A-Brac in Miami;  Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

 Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtual live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

Friday, December 22, 2017

News from our far-flung friends!

From Cafe viewer Ruth Anne Baker McLellan, a hot shot from her Christmas travels in Germany: the Wittenburg Castle church doors on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses 400 years ago this past Halloween:



Apparently, glosses and rebuttals are handled differently now. Here's the Morgan Library's copy of an early printed broadsheet:


The Cafe has friends living- and traveling- all over the world. We welcome your photos!

For Christmas Eve's Eve, the Cafe's revisiting an old friend-



The Cafe's taking Christmas Eve Eve off, and in place of our live program, producer Allan Smith has picked one of 2017's most popular archived shows. 

Ohio children's book expert Larry Rakow dropped by the Cafe for a fascinating hour, and boy, howdy, does he know his stuff! 

It's a fascinating discussion, even though we couldn't pry loose where he goes to find really old children's books that aren't crayoned all over the endpapers and have the edges gnawed down to nubs.

We visited again, briefly, with Rakow at the 2017 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, where it was evident he's got the secret to cultivating tomorrow's collectors, too. One look at this photo and we stopped changing the Book Fair's Facebook page cover pic every week. Sometimes, you just can't beat perfect:




Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

The program’s regular guests include Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.

We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers:A Bric-A-Brac in Miami;  Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

Time to strike out for new reading frontiers! Are you in?



BookRiot, the website for keen readers, has unveiled its 2018 Reader Harder Challenge: 24 tasks to broaden our reading horizons! As BR says, it's "24 tasks that will invite new genres, new authors, and new worlds, both real and imaginary, into your reading life."

It's a worthy list, even for the well-read: as the old saying has it, there's so many books, and so little time. Here's the list:

A book published posthumously
A book of true crime
A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance)
A comic written and illustrated by the same person
A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)
A book about nature
A western
A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
A romance novel by or about a person of color
A children’s classic published before 1980
A celebrity memoir
An Oprah Book Club selection
A book of social science
A one-sitting book
The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series
A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author
A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image
A book of genre fiction in translation
A book with a cover you hate
A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author
An essay anthology
A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
An assigned book you hated (or never finished)

We're going to give it a try here at Henry Bemis, LGBookT, (taking all 24 tasks from an LGBT bookshelf), the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, and the Rare Book Cafe, and invite our friends to take part on your own!

Here's the 24 tasks, in a handy, editable PDF you can also use to enter BookRiot's contest 52 weeks from now.

Every two weeks, Henry will remind you what task comes next. If you take it on, all we ask is that you send us a note: what title did you pick, and what did you think of it? 

We'll report the results as we go, and with a big summary at year's end! Perhaps- just maybe- there will also be prizes! Since each page may have its own twists on the project the possibilities are infinite. So start thinking, and set up your tally sheet- the game is afoot starting January 1, 2018!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Time for the Cafe Christmas Card-




















The Rare Book Cafe team are taking our annual Christmas/New Year's break! 

After 47 shows (we lost one to technical problems, one to a hurricane, and one to Thanksgiving Dinner), we're counting our blessings and catching our breath for 2018 as the earth turns the winter solstice and the days grow longer again. 

We finished the year on a high note: our December 16 visit with Sherif Afifi, head of rare books conservation in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, has reached over 2,000 people. 

587 viewers have clicked the video 738 times, and seen 1259 minutes of the hour. It is our biggest show yet, and our first whose audience was over 50% overseas.

On December 23 and 30, we'll be offering programs from the archives. If you look at the "Videos" tab on the left side of the Rare Book Cafe Facebook page, you'll see the archive: is there a show you'd like to see again? Let us know!

We'll be back, live, on January 6, 2018, with the first of a new year's worth of fascinating guests and features. Over the next fortnight, though, BookWeek will continue to appear, live, at noon Thursdays, on its new Facebook page.

We thank you all for your support, your encouragement, your likes, and shares. See you in 2018!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Join us December 16 for a visit with the head of rare book conservation at the new Great Library of Alexandria!



Sherif Afifi, Head of the Rare Books Restoration Unit of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, will join us in the Cafe for what promises to be an exceptionally informative and unusual program. A book conservator who is the Head of Conservation and Restoration unit at Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, Afifi has been with the library for nearly twenty years.

He holds degrees in Antique Photographs and Paper Heritage Conservation from Department of Chemical Science at the University of Catania, Italy, and Faculty of Applied Arts at the Helwan University, Egypt.

His portfolio is a broad one. He manages conservators and volunteers; develops standards, policies, procedures, and selection of materials used in the repair and conservation of rare library materials; researches specifications and sources of conservation materials or equipment; and oversees special conservation projects including grant-funded projects.

Afifi handles presentations and tours about the restoration laboratory activities for VIP visitors; plans, documents, and performs complex conservation and preservation treatments on materials held in the library's rare and special collections, principally bound volumes on paper with additional expertise in related areas such as maps, prints, drawings, and manuscripts on paper, documents on vellum, or other archival materials; advises library staff on the condition of collections, collection storage, handling, and exhibition; performs on site inspections, recommends appropriate action, and assists with its implementation.

He has won praise for developing mobile applications, particularly for conservators. Afifi also established Bibliotheca Alexandrina's first specialist conservation training center in Egypt and launched a highly successful YouTube channel to provide conservation tutorials. In 2015 he received an award in 2015 from the International Council of Museums in recognition of his work.




In October 2016 Director Afifi was a guest of Cafe co-host Steve Eisenstein on his radio program, Bucks on the Bookshelf.

Afifi’s home base, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is one of the wonders of the modern world, evoking the spirit and ambition of the original Great Library of Alexandria. Founded in the third century BC, the Great Library one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world for centuries. It was dedicated to the nine goddesses of the arts and was a center of worldwide scholarship until its destruction by one or more catastrophic fires.

The idea of reviving the ancient library dates back to 1974, when a committee set up by Alexandria University selected a plot of land for its new library, between the campus and the seafront, close to where the ancient library once stood.

An architectural design competition was organized by UNESCO in 1988 to choose a design worthy of the site and its heritage. The competition was won by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural office, from among more than 1,400 entries. Construction work began in 1995 and, after some USD $220 million had been spent, the complex was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Arabic, English, and French. In 2010, the library received a donation of 500,000 books from the National Library of France, Bibliothèque nationale de France. The gift makes the Bibliotheca Alexandrina the sixth-largest Francophone library in the world. The BA also is now the largest depository of French books in the Arab world and the main French library in Africa.




The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books with the main reading room covering 220,000 sq ft on eleven cascading levels.



The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library's architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-panelled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 meters in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.



The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal; British donors have provided major collections relating their empire’s rule.

The Manuscript Museum provides visitors and researchers with rare manuscripts and books. Established in 2001, the Manuscript Museum contains the world's largest collection of digital manuscripts. It is an academic institution that is affiliated to the Library of Alexandria. The stated aims of the museum are to preserve heritage, foster human cadres in the conservation and restoration of manuscripts, and create a generation of new restorers.

The Manuscript Museum operates alongside the Manuscript Center, which provides digital access to more than 6,000 rare books, maps, and documents within the museum's collection. It has been estimated that it will take 80 years to fill the library to capacity.

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Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

The program’s regular guests include Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.

We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers:A Bric-A-Brac in Miami;  Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

 Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rare Book Cafe, December 9: We're kicking off the holidays early!


Myrna Loy as Nora Charles in The Thin Man (1934)



Before we all drown in TV ads, shopping pressure, and a year’s worth of entertaining crammed into six weeks, the Cafe’s holding our holidays show early: this Saturday, December 9.


Classic and rare Christmas books will be on the table, and we’ll be talking of books of other faiths in our worldwide audience. Edie Eisenstein will be pulling more fascinating miniature books from her stocking!

Our Statler and Waldorf- Thorne Donnelley and Lindsay Thompson- dream of a Revisionist Christmas, one of off-the-wall holiday books and the true tale of Clement Clarke Moore: scholar, New York land speculator, property rights absolutist- real and human- and alleged author of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”


Moore’s impact on the modern look and layout of Manhattan is as great- in real terms- as the intangible influence of the poem many scholars say he didn’t write. The unknown story of the name on the verses makes a great sleigh ride through history.


And who can speak of Christmas without considering rare and collectible Christmas titles?

Steve Eistenstein's new occasional feature, "Notes from the Field," will launch with a big new appraisal project: the library of a deceased plastic surgeon.


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Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.


The program’s regular guests include Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; ephemera expert Kara Accettola; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.



We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers:A Bric-A-Brac in Miami;  Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.

Friday, December 1, 2017

"Bookstagrammers"- They're a thing now. Find out more on Rare Book Cafe Saturday!

colleen lynch.jpg


I'm a writer, librarian, photographer, bookseller, and reader. I'm 25 and live in Connecticut. Hi :)


That’s how rare book dealer Colleen Lynch introduces herself to online customers.

You’ll have a chance to meet her this Saturday, January 20, when Rare Book Cafe welcomes Lynch to our table at 2:30 pm EST. We're delighted she could reschedule with us after illness derailed a planned December visit!


The New Haven, Connecticut dealer writes with a sure eye for words that convey all the sensations of discovering, acquiring, and reading a book:


There is no other book like this one. That's how you should feel about every book that you own.

With my Library and Information Science degree and my work history in all facets of the world of books, including my antique and rare book dealings to my library and archives experience, along with all the old or new books I have read and bought just so I could own them, I've known and believed this for ages. Still, only certain people get it.

Your bookshelves should be beautiful to you, breathe history--yours or others, should reflect what you love. Buying a book you are looking to own the way it made you feel when you read it, what it made you think. They are a part of you, the books that connect to you in that deep way, the ones you want to own instead of borrow. The bookshelves you have, or cases displayed, or the piles you have spread all across the room, these should catch eyes, pull stares, and express in a fully unique way what you love to read because this expresses you.

This is what I've tried to do here as both a photographer and writer--to show the specialness of each and every book, so you can see yourself there, even a little bit…


Lynch is one of a new breed of online sellers. In September, Publishers Weekly explained them as people “ sharing literary recommendations on a variety of social media platforms. Instagram remains the dominant outlet, and these new influencers are popularly referred to as bookstagrammers.

“While this movement began with spontaneous expressions of love for particular titles, it has become a serious part of every publicist’s media outreach. “We really value what bookstagrammers are doing,” said Meagan Harris, who worked on Ware’s campaign as the publicity manager at Scout Press.”


Some bookstagrammers are advocates for authors, or titles. Others, PW notes, have evolved in a more traditional direction:


Other platforms have also provided fertile ground for book clubs. Actress Emma Watson founded the feminist book club Our Shared Shelf at Goodreads in January 2016. Her first pick was Gloria Steinem’s 2015 memoir, My Life on the Road. The Our Shared Shelf community of readers has grown to more than 204,000 members. This spring, actress Kim Williams-Paisley launched a book club on Facebook and Instagram. In July, she recommended E.B. White’s novel Stuart Little to her 137,000 followers.

In March, actress Emma Roberts and producer Karah Preiss launched Belletrist, an online book club with a website, Tumblr blog, email newsletter, and Instagram page, that invites members to “discover, read, and celebrate a new book every month.” Megan Fishmann, associate publisher and director of publicity for Counterpoint Press and Soft Skull Press, noticed that a Belletrist post had mentioned the work of Eve Babitz. Counterpoint was about to reissue Sex & Rage—a 1979 novel by the Los Angeles author—so Fishmann reached out to the book club. In July, Belletrist featured the book across all its platforms.

Babitz found the whole experience “thrilling,” finding readers of a new generation and through new channels. “The response has been astounding. Readers meeting [Sex & Rage protagonist] Jacaranda and 1970s Los Angeles in 2017 and having such a positive reaction to her means everything to me,” Babitz said.

Oprah Winfrey is the patron saint of these 21st-century book clubs. Between 1996 and 2010, Winfrey led her own book club on the Oprah Winfrey Show on ABC, and a Winfrey selection was a ticket to the bestseller list. Winfrey still runs Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, the digital incarnation of her old book club; these literary conversations now happen on the smaller outlets of Winfrey’s OWN and online and pack a smaller punch than her original recommendations.




Bookstagrammers help in that they get images of your book cover out there (and they make them look so pretty!), and readers need to see a book a couple of times, in a couple of different places, before they are inclined to buy it. According to the marketing Rule of 7, a consumer needs to be touched seven times before they commit to buying a product," explained author Brenda Janowitz whose latest novel, The Dinner Party, was released last year.

"Bookstagrammers give that to authors, showcasing their work multiple times. When readers see the same books pop up in their feed over and over again, it makes it appear like the book is in high demand, and that this book is something that everyone’s talking about. And everyone wants to be reading the book that everyone’s talking about.”

According to conversations with authors, publishers and book marketers, between 2014 and 2015 Instagram became one of the more prolific social platforms for readers to connect with new books, through the handful of bloggers who saw the utility of the platform—now referred to by themselves and by publishers collectively as bookstagrammers.


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Rare Book Cafe is streamed by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair every Saturday from 2.30 to 3.30 pm EDT. We feature interviews, panel discussion and stuff you can learn about book collecting whether you are a regular at Sotheby’s or just someone who likes books.

The program airs live on Rare Book Cafe’s Facebook page, and remain there after the show.

The program’s regular guests include Miami book dealer, appraiser and WDBFRadio.com’s Bucks on the Bookshelf radio show creator Steven Eisenstein, Thorne Donnelley of Liberty Book Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Lindsay Thompson of Charlotte’s Henry Bemis Books; miniature books expert Edie Eisenstein; and program creator/producer T. Allan Smith.



We enjoy the support and encouragement of these booksellers:A Bric-A-Brac in Miami;  Little Sages Books in Hollywood, Florida; Liberty Books in Palm Beach Gardens; As Time Goes By, in Marion, Alabama; Quill & Brush in Dickerson, Maryland; Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg; The Ridge Books in Calhoun, Georgia; and Henry Bemis Books in Charlotte.

Rare Book Cafe program encourages viewer participation via its interactive features and video: if you've got an interesting book, join the panel and show it to us! If you’d like to ask the team a question or join us in the virtually live studio audience for the program, write us at rarebookcafe@gmail.com.