Sunday, December 20, 2015

The perfect gift for your book lover! Book fair tickets!

Christmas is only a few days away, and whether you've finished your shopping or not, here's an idea for a very special gift for your book lover.

There's always room for a stocking stuffer, right?

And we've got the perfect one. Give an experience: a weekend at the 2015 Florida Antiquarian Book fair. It's an adventure.

Consider this. At the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, more than 100 top-notch antiquarian book dealers from all over the country converge in St. Petersburg for one weekend. For the book lover, that's Paradise. Your book lover can browse beautiful, rare, unique, and amazing volumes that go for thousands of dollars or delicious reading copies of favorite classics that cost only a few dollars.

Here's the best part for you, the generous gift giver. You can order the gift right from your computer. Right now. No fighting traffic. No standing in line at the malls. Nothing but clicking a few keys and you're there.

Just click on the link to Eventbrite where you can purchase tickets and you'll have this plan in the works without ever leaving your computer screen. Your book fair adventure starts here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

RARE BOOK CAFE: Boe Rushing, Back in the Day Books, on setting up an independent rare bookstore in today's market

WATCH LIVE: Boe Rushing is opening his bookstore next year for the third time in the Tampa Bay area. Boe opened Back in the Day Books in 2010 in Tarpon Springs. In 2013, he moved to Dunedin, where he was in two different locations, one on the main street in town and the other slightly off the beaten path. Boe reluctantly decided in 2015 to close again. Now, through a special public-private lease arrangement, Boe has a new location in downtown Dunedin and expects to reopen in March in a new building with an historic facade.

Boe believes in supporting local businesses, and particularly local bookstores. He'll discuss both topics on Rare Book Cafe. You can watch Boe's appearance on Rare Book Cafe on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on You also can watch the program live right here on the book fair blog.

Boe received a law degree from Stetson University's College of Law in 1993 but he has spent little time in his career as a lawyer. In 2001, he moved to Canada to get married but he wasn't able to practice law there without jumping through too many hoops so he decided to find a career where he could be self-employed doing something he loved.

A conversation with a rare book dealer led to the realization that the antiquarian book business was perfect for him. He opened a shop in Canada in a 150-year-old building a couple of doors down from a coffee shop. The neighborhood had lots of "book people" and the business thrived.

After the birth of his daughter, Holly, in 2004, Boe sold off his inventory, closed his first bookstore,  and he and his family moved back to his native Florida. Boe sold books online. A scholarship to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar in 2009 led to the conviction that he really wanted to have a bricks-and-mortar store and the rest is history.

Boe is president of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and an annual exhibitor at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

You can watch Rare Book Cafe on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. ET on Replays of the program also are available at as well as on the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair blog. Selected episodes also can be watched on the book fair's YouTube Channel.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

RARE BOOK CAFE: Mike Cotter, Back in Time Rare Books, on collecting Star Wars books and other Eighties nostalgia

WATCH LIVE: With Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening on Friday, we have a special treat on the next edition of Rare Book Cafe. We’ll be talking collectible Star Wars books and other items with Mike Cotter, who recently opened Back in Time Rare Books, specializing in 1980s popular literature.

You can watch Rare Book Cafe live at 8 p.m. Thursday right here on the book fair blog or on (search for Rare Book Cafe). The first Star Wars movie, Episode 4 - A New Hope, came out in 1977, and the other two films of the first trilogy in 1980 and 1983, so Star Wars dominated pop culture throughout the Eighties. A prequel trilogy was released in 1999, 2002, and 2005.

 In a test session, Mike Cotter, bottom, shows a Star Wars book from his collection.
Patrons of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair may remember Mike Cotter from his days at the popular Yeoman’s in the Fork Rare Book and Document Gallery in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. Mike represented Yeoman’s for years at the book fair.

Now he has begun a new endeavor, embracing his early love of the Star Wars franchise, the Indiana Jones franchise, and the Back to the Future franchise, among others. Mike and his family moved to St. Augustine, Florida, where he opened Back in Time Rare Books to market his extensive and growing collection of literature, board games, toys, and other items related to those immensely popular films.

Hollywood turned out Monday evening at the Dolby Theatre for a red-carpet premiere of the seventh film in the series, the first Star Wars film released in a decade. The revival of the franchise will likely lead to increased demand for the books, computer and video gams, comic books, 8-track cassettes and more spawned by the original first two trilogies. Mike Cotter has been hard at work gathering many special related items and is ready to show some of them on Rare Book Cafe. Expect to see some rare signed pieces and to hear some of the great stories Mike has collected.

Rare Book Cafe will now be seen live on Thursdays at 8 p.m., having been moved from Wednesday afternoons. Our first couple of evening episodes were well received so we're continuing with the schedule that many find more convenient. The program will continue to be broadcast on Saturday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. Steven Eisenstein, owner of A-Book-A-Brac Shop in Miami Beach, Florida, is the host of Rare Book Cafe. His co-host is Thorne Donnelley, owner of Liberty Books in West Palm Beach, Florida. Edie Eisenstein, Steven’s wife, is often featured in a segment on miniature books.

Not only will you be able to watch the live broadcast here on the book fair blog but you also can watch the replay after the program is over. Please share this program with your friends.

COMING SATURDAY: Bookseller Boe Rushing, owner of Back in the Day Books, on setting up a bookstore and why you should support local businesses in your community. Join the conversation on Rare Book Cafe.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A new series: Get to know the booksellers

Okay, this is an early notice about a new occasional series we're introducing soon about the book sellers who will be at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in March. It may surprise some readers to know that some booksellers have lives beyond their realm as booksellers. We're going to be looking into the special interests of some of the booksellers you'll see at the book fair. Stay tuned. If  you know a bookseller you think would be a good subject for our series, please let us know. Send an email to and put SECRET LIVES in the subject field.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

RARE BOOK CAFE: Madlyn Blom, Old Bag Lady Books

Madlyn at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.
The next edition of the Rare Book Cafe will feature Madlyn Blom, owner of Old Bag Lady Books in Sun City Center, Florida, across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg. This will be Madlyn's second appearance on Rare Book Cafe, but her first as our Special Guest. Early on in the development of Rare Book Cafe, Madlyn visited the show and spoke to us upside down for a brief time. In this appearance, Madlyn will be right side up. More about all that in another article.

Madlyn is on the board of directors of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and is an exhibitor at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair each year. Madlyn will gladly tell book dealers considering doing a show for the first time the benefits of such a decision. For one thing, dealers who only sell online lose touch with real people – their customers. The book fair is an opportunity to reconnect with old customers and meet new customers and learn what they are reading and why.

Of course, the other great reason Madlyn will tell a book dealer to exhibit at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is to meet other dealers face-to-face, and buy books from them or sell books to them. You could end up with a collection of signed first editions to sell to other customers, a stash of cash from all the books you sell, and a notebook full of contact information from new customers.

When she's not selling books or buying books, you might find Madlyn out with her camera shooting award-winning shots. Madlyn took up photography only a short time ago and already has surprised herself and others by winning top honors in local contests. We'll have more about Madlyn's photography exploits in another entry.

In the meantime, you can watch Madlyn on Rare Book Cafe by logging in to using your Twitter account, then searching for Rare Book Cafe. The live streaming program will be on the air on Wednesday, November 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET. You don't even have to log in to Blab to watch. You can see it right here on this page above. What's more, if you miss the live stream or just can't get enough of watching Madlyn, you can see the replay of the program right here, too. It'll happen automatically and you can tune in any time to watch. We hope you will.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

RARE BOOK CAFE: Josh Niesse of Underground Books

We're delighted to have Josh Niesse, owner of Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia, on Rare Book Cafe this evening at 8 p.m. ET  Josh and his wife Megan are exhibitors every year at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

Josh and Megan run "a charming vintage bookshop just off historic Adamson Square," as their web site says. And, yes, it's really underground. Down the road a little way is the University of West Georgia, so Josh and Megan have a cool little bookstore in a college town. Nice. These two innovative booksellers keep up a very interesting blog, and in it not long ago, Josh revealed a behind-the-bookcases look at their business model, which includes not only the charming bricks-and-mortar store but also an extensive, and growing, online retail presence as well as their appearance, of course, at book events like the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

Tonight's presentation is something of an experiment. It marks the first time we've presented the Rare Book Cafe in the evening. We think it will make the live show more accessible to people who otherwise might not be able to see it live because of it's traditional afternoon broadcast time. You can watch it right here on the book fair blog or you can follow this link to watch it on the platform. Either way, we hope book lovers will embrace this new approach to celebrating antiquarian books.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mystery writer Michael Lister to be rescheduled


 UPDATE: Well, we're sorry Michael Lister wasn't able to appear on Rare Book Cafe on Wednesday afternoon. We'll schedule him for another time. Meanwhile, Wednesday's program turned out quite interesting. Steven Eisenstein, the host, discussed antique book-related advertising items and as surprise paperback copy The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and his encounter with him, as well as other interesting topics. Edie Eisenstein discussed her passion, miniature books and how she and Steven met. Plus, visitors had questions. You can watch it right here on replay. Enjoy!

NOTICE: Michael Lister will be unable to appear on today's program. His visit will be rescheuled. Please watch for an alert.  Join us today for an entertaining show on antiquarian books.

Our next special guest on Rare Book Cafe will be mystery writer Michael Lister, winner of two Florida Book Awards and author of the prison chaplain John Jordan "blood" series and the hard-boiled, 1940s noir Jimmy "Soldier" Riley series.

It might seem strange for a contemporary writer to be on a show about antiquarian books but not in the case of Michael Lister. He has an extensive collection of antiquarian books, including a 1911 copy of G.K Chesterton's The Innocence of Father Brown, the first clergyman who went about solving murder mysteries. No doubt, Lister will discuss Chesterton's influence on his own work.

Rare Book Cafe is the world's first live streaming Blab TV program devoted to antiquarian books. You can watch it on by signing in with your Twitter account, then searching for Rare Book Cafe. You can ask questions and participate in the ongoing conversation during the program. This episode of Rare Book Cafe will be broadcast live at 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday,  November 11. You also can watch the program on this page where it is embedded above. Afterward, the program will be available to watch on replay right here.

Rare Book Cafe is sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, celebrating 35 year in March 2016. Watch for interesting information about the book fair on upcoming episodes of Rare Book Cafe. Subscribe to the broadcast so you won't miss anything.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

RARE BOOK CAFE LIVE: Watch the replay right here!

You can watch the latest edition of Rare Book Cafe live streaming at 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, November 4 right here on the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair blog. Michael Slicker, owner of Lighthouse Books, ABAA, and chairman of the book fair, will be a guest on the show. If you are unable to see the show live, don't worry. It'll be recorded and you can watch it right here.

This is a relatively new development for Blab, the live streaming platform where Rare Book Cafe occurs. The feature was added last week and our first embedded session was on Saturday. This makes it really convenient to see these programs.

The Rare Book Cafe is sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. It features antiquarian book dealers from around the world who share stories, information, and a look at some of the books, maps, prints, and ephemera in their collections. It's a wonderful opportunity for book lovers everywhere. For anyone who would like to embed Rare Book Cafe on your own blog or web site, just send us an email to

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: Our first embedded show

Okay, folks! This is a first! You will be able to watch Rare Book Cafe right here on the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair blog Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET. The developers of the Blab live streaming platform have added this feature to make it possible to embed a Blab session in other venues. Now you can watch the programming almost anywhere. No longer will be it be necessary to log into the Blab platform.

Keep in mind that this is a test. We don't know, for instance, if embedding this program here will make it unbearably slow, thus rendering it useless. We don't know if you'll be able to participate, though it looks as if you might be able to type in comments if you sign into your Twitter account then send a direct message to @beachbookman or @rarebookcafe.

After the program is finished, you should be able to view the recorded version here as well. This is all so new, it's hard to tell what will happen but if it works we know it's going to be exciting.

If you watch the LIVE version, please let us know about your experience. And thank you for being part of history as we adapt 21st century tools to spread interest in the subject we love – books, maps, prints, and ephemera of the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

UPDATE: We've now slightly widened the blog so it will accommodate the Rare Book Cafe broadcast and the comments next to it. This embedded platform will allow book lovers to watch the program from right here on the book fair blog and see the comments. Although the comments remain on the screen, you can't scroll through them yet. In fact, they disappear, only to return when the broadcast is over. Still, this is nothing short of amazing.

Please join us for the next Rare Book Cafe on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Watch for a post soon.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: A visit with Michael Slicker

We had an interesting experience on Saturday at Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, an annual event that features authors from all over the country discussing their new books and reading from them. We broadcast live on the Rare Book Cafe during the regularly scheduled Saturday afternoon program.

The festival takes place on the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. One of the elements of the festival is a tented area reserved for small publishers, self-published authors, and assorted other interests related to the love of books. This year, Michael Slicker of Lighthouse Books, ABAA, was asked to be present for the festival to evaluate books brought by festival goers. Although no festival goers brought books to be evaluated, the day did afford Mike the time to pore over some recent acquisitions picked up in a recent buying trip to South Florida. We visited with Mike and he shared some of his interesting finds. Technical glitches crept in to cut some of the presentation short but Mike did show some of his volumes.

You can see an embedded recording of that Rare Book Cafe program above. If it doesn't show up as a video player, just click on the black box and you will be taken to Blab where you can watch the program. Blab is still in beta so glitches are the norm.

As is always the case, Steven Eisenstein and Thorne Donnelley continued the rest of the show with a series of interesting items of their own. The Rare Book Cafe is broadcast every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET and every Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sign into Blab and then search for Rare Book Cafe.

We also had the opportunity to interview historian Jim Clark, a former newspaper colleague from the Orlando Sentinel. Jim was attending the festival to discuss his new book, A Concise History of Florida, which is designed for Florida newcomers to give them a fundamental understanding of Florida's history. Jim's interview was captured on and can be viewed below.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Eating my way through town on Periscope

By T. Allan Smith

Well, yes, I admit it. I've got a tough job (but somebody has to do it.) <<Tongue firmly planted in cheek.>> We've embarked on a quest of sorts, one that is taking us to some of the most interesting places in town. The impetus for this undertaking is the development of a new live streaming platform in social media and a new emphasis on our location as a vacation destination.

In years past, we've pretty much stuck to talking about the upcoming book fair, its dealers and the treasures they're bringing, its theme, and so forth. Make no mistake, we'll continue to talk about all of those things. After all, that's what the book fair is all about. Meanwhile, though, we've always known that some booksellers come to Florida for our show with the notion in mind that the Sunshine State is a pretty good place to play, too. They turn the trip into a vacation. We know dealers who gladly exchange the frigid bluster of the Great Northeast for the mild sunny days of Florida in March.

Fairgoers, too, come to St. Petersburg looking for fun in the sun. We know collectors who plan their vacations around the dates of the book fair. They're not going to miss it. Like all our visitors, they have in mind to dip their toes in the Gulf of Mexico, visit some museums, take in a spring training game or two, and, of course, eat. Now that St. Petersburg (and really all of Tampa Bay) has become a Foodie Destination, we figure that will be part of the planning among some fairgoers.

That's where my tough job comes in. With St. Petersburg's newfound culinary status, we feel it's our obligation to give visitors some insight into what to expect. Every year both booksellers and fairgoers ask us about great places to eat in our town, and, of course, we try to give them answers within the scope of our limited knowledge. Next year, we'll be more knowledgeable because we'll have studied the subject thoroughly. (It's the least we can do, right?) "Yes, been there. It's wonderful. Gotta have the grouper."

Well, when I learned of this new live streaming platform, Periscope, I had to try it, and it seemed natural to use Periscope as a tool to help tell the stories. Periscope is easy to use. It's an app on your cell phone. We broadcast from our cell phones. You watch it on yours. Simple as that. The immediacy of it and the authenticity of it is what's intriguing. You can't fake live TV. All the flaws and faux pas are there. The benefit, though, is that it's real. When you meet the restaurant owners and workers, it's as if you were there yourself. In fact, when you watch it live, you can text in questions and we'll respond to them in real time. So it's even more like being there. My guess is that for the ones that appeal to you, you will be there. You'll want to go meet the owners in person.

The restaurant featured at the top of the column, for instance, is one of our favorite local places. If you're from out of town, you might not even have heard of it. Watch our Periscope about The Old North East Tavern, you're getting an inside tip from a local. There's another one about Chief's Creole Cafe, a new establishment we tried out the other day, that is embedded below.  I'm doing a series of them. Yes, I'm eating my way through Tampa Bay, and I know it'll be impossible to to get to every great place there is but some help is better than none at all, right? (And it's the least I can do for the cause.)

You can view all of the 'Scopes (there's a cool new geeky term) in this series at I haven't been consistent in the titles but what I've settled on is On the Town. Pretty much everything posted there now and in the future will give you a tiny view into activities (especially eating) around our town. For instance, there's a new arts district in town (Warehouse Arts District) and it has a new general manager (a former colleague from the Tampa Bay Times). I'm going to interview her and we'll tour the arts district. Earlier this year at the 2015 book fair, you may have met Maureen McDole, who heads a local literary organization. She has a new literary space and bookstore. I'll interview her. And there'll be more.

If all this interests you, follow me on Twitter or on Periscope: @FLBookFairPhoto. You'll get alerts on your phone when I go live. You can tune in a keep me company. It would be a shame to keep all of this tough job to myself. 

T. Allan Smith is the official photographer and social media guy for the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. He is a retired journalist and a recovered book dealer. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: Owen Felix of Tipperary, Ireland

A extraordinary thing happened on a recent Saturday that demonstrates just how modern technology has brought the world a lot closer. Carrie Carnes of Old Tampa Book Company had been scheduled to be the special guest on Rare Book Cafe, the new Blab TV live streaming program about antiquarian books, hosted by Steven Eisenstein and co-hosted by Thorne Donnelley.

Unfortunately, Carrie's computer wouldn't cooperate and she was never able to join the program. However, as fate would have it, an extraordinary gentleman did join the program and proceeded to conduct an amazing guided tour of his home in Tipperary, Ireland. His name is Owen Felix O'Neill, and he is an authority on early English Bibles, the owner of a most unusual collection of rare books, pamphlets, historical documents, and original prints, and, apparently, a reluctant bookseller, who by his own admission refuses to part with 90 per cent of his collection.

Felix also is a consummate host, whose tour of his 200-year-old home on the Rare Book Cafe is pure delight for the book lover. You can watch a replay of the program above. As technical difficulties were the order of the day, Felix joined the program earlier but could not be heard until about 15:58. For a little more than 40 minutes after that, Felix narrated and bantered with Steven and Thorne as he showed such treasures as a William Tyndale New Testament of 1526, a Shakespeare first folio, and Christopher Columbus' personal copy of the 1488 Travels to the Orient by John Mandeville. It was mesmerizing, each new item more astounding than the previous one.

Felix is a well known and respected book dealer in Ireland and the UK, and was called in to appraise the library collection at All Hallows College in Dublin as the 172-year-old institution prepared to sell some of its holdings to forestall closing last year. Felix discovered that several volumes had gone missing as had a collection of letters Jackie Kennedy wrote over a 15-year period to a priest friend who served at the college. Felix discovered that the plundering of valuable books at the school had gone on for years.

Felix also showed his 1877 copies of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Abraham Lincoln's 1861 speech when he won the presidential election, Thomas Jefferson's signed passport,  original hand-painted sketches from one of Capt. James Cook's tours of the Pacific Ocean in the 1760s and 1770s, and "the oldest bottle of Irish whiskey in the world."

What a delight! The visit was comfortable and most entertaining, and Felix promised to revisit Rare Book Cafe again. We can't wait.

Friday, September 25, 2015

SunLit Festival receives Best of the Bay Award

Michael Slicker and T. Allan Smith display Best of the Bay Award from Creative Loafing.
A new festival for book lovers launched last March in the week before the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, and we were proud to be part of it. The first annual SunLit Festival began on Saturday, March 7 and culminated with the book fair the following weekend. It was fourteen events in nine days, all celebrating the written word.

On Wednesday this week, Creative Loafing, the magazine-style weekly newspaper that covers the arts, entertainment, dining, and politics in the Tampa Bay area, presented an award to SunLit Festival in its annual Best of the Bay Awards. SunLit Festival was proclaimed the Best New Fest for Bookworms, an entirely appropriate title certain to be worn with pride.

The first SunLit Festival featured such diverse activities as honoring the Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, live literary combat, a tribute to the writing talents of Dave and Iola Brubeck, a focus on reading to infants, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of St. Petersburg's library, dramatic readings of local writers' works, a pub crawl with literature, an examination of how childhood reading shapes our lives, the opening night of the first season of the St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival, a night hike in the woods with poetry, a celebration of Jack Kerouac, a Passover cookoff, word games with libations, and, of course, the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

It was the work of many individuals and organizations, who came together in the common cause of celebrating literature to produce an exciting series that drew attention to each of their efforts. It was a great surprise when Creative Loafing sent word that it was honoring SunLit Festival, and it was a great tribute to the efforts of so many people. It was all under the able guidance of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

The future of SunLit Festival looks very bright, indeed, with planning now under way for the second annual edition. The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair invites book lovers from all over to come to St. Petersburg for SunLit Festival and the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

Below: A recording of a live streaming session from the night of the Best of the Bay Awards. For live streaming about the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and things to see and do in the Tampa Bay area during these events, follow @FLBookFairPhoto on Twitter and Periscope. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: How Thorne became a book dealer

Here's the latest episode of Rare Book Cafe, the world's first and only Blab TV show about antiquarian books. It was broadcast live today on at 2:30 p.m. EDT. In it, bookseller Thorne Donnelley, who owns Liberty Books in West Palm Beach and is an exhibitor at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, tells about his beginnings in the antiquarian book business.

This show has several new features, including a short segment with Edie Eisenstein, who loves miniature books and talks lovingly about them in this episode. Look for Edie to return as a regular feature in future episodes. Host Steven Eisenstein also introduced another new feature, Hidden Treasures, in which guests will be asked to discuss special volumes from their collections. Steve asks himself and others questions in another new feature called The Third Degree, an homage to the classic technique cops used to interrogate bad guys in old detective novels. Several visitors dropped in to ask questions about their own collections.

The Rare Book Cafe is sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Check the Scheduled list in for times and dates. Subscribe to the program so you won't miss anything.

You can watch the replay of Rare Book Cafe above, or on if you want to see the comments from the audience shown in text on the side.

If you have thoughts or comments about Rare Book Cafe, please send an email. We'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: Auto books for the grand prix?

Interesting discussion the other day on Rare Book Cafe. Everybody knows the Firestone Grand Prix will be two weeks earlier next year, coinciding with the weekend of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. That, of course, will make securing hotel rooms a challenge. (Best to book your rooms early.)

But Thorne Donnelley, who by now is a regular guest on Rare Book Cafe, had another take on the race car event. The town will be full of automobile enthusiasts. Why not capitalize on that, was Thorne's reasoning. Booksellers ought to make sure they plenty of such books in their inventory.

We think that's a great idea, and we encourage booksellers to put automotive books, particularly those great big pretty coffee table books with gorgeous photography that will have you drooling over Lamborghinis and Ferraris, near the top of their priority list if they can.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: People drop by with questions

This new platform indelicately called Blab is an interesting experiment. Because it's still in beta, many things are still being developed. Case in point: The text message feature that allows people who are not onscreen in this conversation platform to participate by sending comments to others watching as well as to those onscreen. If you haven't experienced it yet, go to Blab and search for Rare Book Cafe. Mark it on your calendar and plan to join us so you can get the full effect.

If you want to just sample it, there's an embedded version above in this entry. The drawback is that folks who are developing Blab haven't included the comments yet. There's just the video. This one has Miami Beach bookseller Steven Eisenstein, West Palm Beach bookseller Thorne Donnelley and me talking to various visitors, whom you can meet onscreen. However, there were other visitors who chose not to be onscreen. They made comments in the text message feature but since it's not included in the embedded version you can't see it here.

One way you can see the text message comments  in the replay is to log into Blab the navigate to Replays and search for Rare Book Cafe. What you'll find there is the closest thing to the live version, complete with comments. Unfortunately, the comments don't scroll in synch with the audio, so you have to guess what comments went with what conversation onscreen.

If this sounds like a lot of complaining, it isn't meant to. This is a pretty nifty free platform for us to carry on an ongoing conversation about antiquarian books and related materials, and we aim to make use of it every chance we get. We're grateful to the folks at Blab who have created it and continue to improve it.

An interesting thing happened with this, our second official episode of Rare Book Cafe. Some people dropped by unexpectedly with questions about antiquarian books. It was delightful, and interesting. It was just the thing we hoped would happen. Some said they were just randomly poking around Blab and happened our session. We think that's terrific! Our purpose here is to increase the knowledge and awareness of rare books, maps, prints, and related ephemera. We're glad people are interested.

If we impart some information that helps people develop a passion for this subject, that is, in our view, beneficial to the antiquarian book business in general.

So, if you're reading this, you probably have a similar passion (or you've wandered far, far away from our original objective online today). Either way, we hope you'll tune into Rare Book Cafe and we hope you'll tell others. Most of all, we hope you'll join in the conversation. Our next LIVE session is on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

TO GET ON BLAB: It's easy to sign onto Blab. It works best if you have a Twitter account. (In fact, we're not sure, but it might be the only way you can sign in now.) On your up-to-date Firefox browser or your Google Chrome browser, sign into Twitter. Using another tab, go to Blab and sign in using your Twitter account. Blab will bring in your Twitter profile information and you'll be set to go. Search for Rare Book Cafe and you'll find us, in a past session, in a current session (if it's the right time) or in a future session. If you find a future session, subscribe to it and you'll get notices about changes or more sessions. Right now, we're planning to be on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. The  shows will last about an hour.
– T. Allan Smith,
official photographer and Internet guy,
Florida Antiquarian Book Fair 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tampa Bay author's article features the book fair

Tampa Bay mystery writer Carol J. Perry’s article about this year’s Florida Antiquarian Book Fair just came out in Kings River Life Magazine. Evidently Carol spent her time at the book fair hunting down vintage mysteries, and found some remarkable ones for her effort.

Carol’s article reveals everything from a stack of 1960s Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines marked at $10 each to a 1936 first edition of Graham Greene’s This Gun For Hire at $3,000. There were numerous examples of mystery books priced between those two extremes with familiar names like John D. MacDonald, Ellery Queen, Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, and Franklin W. Dixon. She even tells of a Florida mystery by Alfred Payson Terhune, who was better known for his Lad, A Dog and other books about collies. The book: a 1929 first edition of The Secret of Sea-Dream House. Price: $400.

The article is vividly illustrated with a photograph of Sonny Ideker's alcove, which featured many beautiful leather-bound volumes, and with closeups of many of the books discussed.

Kings River Life Magazine is an online publication that covers the San Joaquin Valley in California. In addition to local features, the magazine also includes a mystery fiction section that highlights author interviews and short stories.

Carol J. Perry’s Witch City Mysteries, a juvenile mystery series, are published by Kensington Publishing Corp. Her books include Look Both Ways, Tails, You Lose, and Caught Dead Handed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: If you missed it LIVE, watch it now

On Wednesday, September 2, we launched the first live streaming session of Rare Book Cafe, our new community for discussion of antiquarian books, maps, prints, ephemera and more. It's an informal gathering and we were pleased that people could stop by and say hello.

Blab is a new platform, so new that it isn't really even fully developed yet. Clearly, though, it has a lot of advantage over other streaming platforms and we're delighted to have the opportunity to use it. One of the things we like about it, despite the glitches that you'll see as the video progresses, is that is really is accessible. It's pretty easy to use. That's why we think as people discover it, they'll want to use it.

A note about the glitches: Madlyn Blom appears upside down in the video. We do not know what the issue is that has caused that. We hope to find out and correct it. The Blab format does not allow the text comments to be included in the replay so we encourage you to see the live version if you can.

People who love antiquarian books are going to find a lot of value in visiting Rare Book Cafe. We hope you'll join us. Right now we're planning to have sessions on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m., following Steven Eisenstein's Buck on the Bookshelf, which is broadcast on from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Steven will be one of our hosts for the live Rare Book Cafe session.

Thank you to the participants today, Thorne Donnelley, owner of Liberty Books, LLC FABA in Palm Beach, Steven Eisenstein, owner of A-Book-A-Brac Books in Miami Beach, Libby Ware, owner of Toadlily Books in Atlanta and president of the Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers Association, and Madlyn Blom, owner of Old Bag Lady Books in Sun City Center, Florida.  Also, thank you to those who listened or watched from the sidelines. We appreciate your interest and support.

We're remaining flexible about when to schedule the live sessions. Of course, we'd appreciate your thoughts and ideas about Rare Book Cafe, what you'd like to see, when you'd like to see it, and who you'd like to talk to in the antiquarian book trade. Comment below or send an email to

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Please join the conversation at the Rare Book Cafe

RARE BOOK CAFE (dress rehearsal) Saturday, August 29, 2015 - Clockwise from top left: Thorne Donnelley, Steven Eisenstein, Larry Kellogg, and T. Allan Smith.

Imagine a place where you can mingle with knowledgeable booksellers, ask them questions, share some stories and some laughs – a place where you can have a cup of coffee and join in the fun. That's called the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair but it happens only once a year. Well, now we've created a virtual place like that – and you don't even have to leave your house, though you do have to bring your own coffee.

Welcome to the Rare Book Cafe, a free-form Internet conversation about antiquarian books, maps, prints, ephemera, and more – all the stuff you love. You can see and talk to book dealers, people who know the details of publishing over hundreds of years. What a treat! What's more, it's free. All you need is a computer or IOS device and a good wi-fi connection and you're ready to go.

We're always looking for ways to leverage social media to help tell the story of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in particular and the antiquarian book trade in general. When we discovered the platform called Blab, we knew we had found something special.

Some think the name is unfortunate and we're inclined to agree. The odd name notwithstanding, Blab provides the perfect blend of eyeball-to-eyeball interaction and flexible structure that we think will facilitate booksellers and book lovers getting to know each other. It's the same sort of thing that happens in rare bookstores all over the country (heck, all over the world) but Blab makes it possible to connect with anybody anywhere who has a decent wi-fi connection. We think the result will be positive for everyone involved.

It's an axiom in business that people do business with people they know, like and trust. If  you can't meet them in person, what better way to get to know a favorite book dealer than interact with them eyeball-to-eyeball in the Rare Book Cafe? Suddenly the world is a much smaller place when you can talk in real time with people all over the world who have the same interests as you do.

We've been practicing with this new way of communicating for a short time but most of the sessions weren't recorded. On Saturday, we did what we called a dress rehearsal. It's a preparation for our first official Rare Book Cafe session on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. At the top of this article, you can see a video of the session. It will give you a glimpse into what to expect. However, you have to experience it in person to really get the full effect.  For instance, in the LIVE version, the names of the participants show up on screen. They're not in the recorded version so you need a scorecard to tell who the players are. (We'll give you one below for the session we show here.) In the LIVE version, the four boxes where you see speakers are in a different position. In the LIVE version, you can type a comment and it'll show up in a column at the right. You don't have that option in the recorded version. in fact, the comments that were given during the event don't even show up in the recorded version.

Here's the short of it. The Blab platform is in beta, meaning they're still working on it. In fact, the developers are  drawing on the experiences of people who are using Blab to make improvements. We have been seeing upgrades on a daily basis.  It's kind of fun to watch, actually.  So, we're jumping in because we think this is a great place for lovers of antiquarian books to be. We'd like you to come along for the ride and have some fun with us.

The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is happy to sponsor Rare Book Cafe. We're doing it two days a week – Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. (ET) and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (ET) That's for now. It's subject to change, depending upon what people want. So let us hear from you. You can send comments to

This coming Wednesday, our topic: Is the antiquarian book fair a thing of the past?  It is worthy of discussion, especially with the upcoming book fairs in our immediate future. We're expecting to talk to folks from the 2015 Georgia Book and Paper Fair, which will be next weekend (September 5- 6) in Decatur. We have been delighted with the support of Josh Niesse and Megan Bell, who own Underground Books in Carrollton, home of the University of West Georgia.

Okay, the scorecard we promised. The boxes move around as the video progresses but this who's who is based on where they are at the beginning.

In the upper left box is Thorne Donnelley, who owns Liberty Book Store LLC, FABA, in Palm Beach. Thorne's great-grandfather founded R.R. Donnelley & Sons,  one of the largest commercial printing companies in the world. Thorne formerly ran a jet and helicopter service in Los Angeles. He specializes in coffee table books about planes, boats, and cars, as well as fine collectible first editions.

In the upper right box is Steven Eisenstein, owner of A-Book-A-Brac Shop in Miami Beach. Steven is a well-known South Florida bookseller, and long-time exhibitor at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. He also is host of the popular Internet-based radio show Bucks on the Bookshelf, which is broadcast live on Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. on and repeated on Sundays. Steven will serve as a host for Rare Book Cafe.

In the lower right box is Larry Kellogg, who served as manager of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair for more than two decades. He is former print journalist and public relations professional, and an avid collector of circus memorabilia. He writes for the collectibles website WorthPoint.

In the lower left box is T. Allan Smith (that's me), a retired journalist and former bookseller, who serves as the resident Internet techie and official photographer for the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. If you've been to the book fair, you've probably seen me taking pictures all over The Coliseum during the three-day event. You'll find my pictures on this blog and the various websites of the book fair.

So that's it. Rare Book Cafe is a work in progress as is Blab. (By the way, we've taken to jokingly calling it B-Lab for Broadcast Laboratory just to avoid saying the name.) We hope you'll join in, be part of the process, and help us shape Rare Book Cafe. But bring you own coffee. They haven't figured out how to serve a cup of joe over the Internet.

-- T. Allan Smith


Getting onto Blab is really easy if you can navigate around something like Facebook or Twitter or YouTube but here are some quick tips that may help.

• It's easier and advantageous to use your Twitter account to sign up for Blab. You'll see why once you get in there. Just remember a little bird told you.

• Apps are available for IOS devices (probably soon for Android devices, too). The icon is a strange little purple baby owl-like symbol. There's another app out there called Blab that looks like a child's cartoon character. That's not the right one. Look for the purple owl.

• On a desktop computer, you can also go to on a Google Chrome browser or a Firefox browser. Safari and Internet Explorer won't work.

• Blab is easier to navigate now than it was  a couple of weeks ago. They've put the growing number of Blab sessions into categories and added a search function so finding the Blab session you're looking for is easier.

• It's a good idea to follow the principal people in a Blab session because you'll get automatic notices when they set up new Blabs. You can also follow them on Twitter for redundant notices. Blab sessons will be set up in advance. You can subscribe to them and receive notices if there are any changes and alerts before they start.

• Lurk on the sidelines of a Blab session to get an idea of how the Blab works but then jump in and participate. That's what's going to make it a rewarding experience for you. Type in comments to take part in the discussion. When there's an empty seat, jump in and add your two cents worth. Don't be shy. We won't bite.

• Ask questions. Most book dealers love to talk books, and they'll reveal nuggets from their vast storehouse of information if you  get them going.

• Above all, have fun. This is a cafe. Relax and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book dealers go high tech to tout their passion

Modern technology is changing the landscape for many endeavors, including the antiquarian book business. Some decry the advent of iPads and iPhones and Nooks and Kindles, with gloomy predications of the demise of the traditional book. More optimistic souls note that the more books are digitized and put on electronic devices, the more valuable traditional paper books become, scarcity and demand being the operative factors.

And though some antiquarian book dealers certainly eschew anything that smacks of modernity (including email), a new breed of booksellers is wholeheartedly embracing modern technology that helps them spread the word about their passion – antiquarian books. Podcasts have been around for years, of course, but this marks the first time we know of that they've been used to talk about the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

This year, before and during the book fair, dealer Steven Eisenstein of A-Book-A-Brac Shop in Miami Beach, recorded an Internet radio show. We'll have more about that soon but we also wanted to tell you about another podcast recently published.

Mike Cotter and Keith Wallace of Yeoman's in the Fork in Franklin, Tennessee, teamed up with their colleague, Greg Snider (who is responsible for the Internet presence at Yeoman's), to produce an interesting podcast of their recollections of this year's Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. We thought you'd enjoy listening to their program.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

These are a few of our favorite things

We we saw all the people at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair on Friday night lugging away boxes and package it brought to mind Oscar Hamme4rstein's lyrics from The Sound of Music: "... brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things." Never mind that the book lovers we saw had boxes and plastic bags. We know that these are a few of their favorite things, too.

And why not? Book lovers know what they love and they know they'll find something to love at the book fair. Judging by the sizes of the packages many were carrying, they were finding many things to love.

The book fair continues on today and Sunday, of course, and we're certain that book lovers will ferret out the most wonderful tomes. See you at the book fair.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book fair opens tonight at 5 p.m. See you there!

Well, the weekend we've been waiting for all year is finally here. The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair opens tonight at 5 p.m. There is always a crowd waiting to get in so if you want to be near the front of the line it's best to get there early. You can get an advance look at who will be at the book fair by downloading a program. Just click on the link. Download a program. There's so much to see at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair that it's never a bad idea to plan to come all three days. Tonight you can get a lay of the land, browse through the entire fair so you have an idea what's where. If you've been to the fair before, you know you're going to see old friend. Most of the booksellers come back year after year so you get to know them and they get to know you.

Come back on Saturday for some serious digging. Often dealers bring more great items than they have room to display. You'll only find out about them if you talk to them. That's also a good way to learn more about your particular interest. These folks are knowledgeable and they're perfectly willing to share their knowledge but they won't know what you're looking for if you don't tell them. There's so much to explore and so little time so make the best use of it by spending Saturday delving into what interests you. A word of caution, though. If you see something you've got to have, buy it right then. Don't wait. If you do, it might be gone.

On Sunday, you can relax and enjoy the day. Revisit some dealers and some items you've been mulling over. Providing they are still there, of course, you can decide to go ahead and purchase them. In any case, get around to dealers you might have missed. Make new friends. Exchange email addresses so you can stay in touch.

It's over all too quickly so savor it why you can. See you at the book fair.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What to look for at the book fair

Here's another installment in our series to give you a glimpse of some of the amazing books you'll find at the book fair.

The Snopes Trilogy -- The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion
William Faulkner
All first editions, first printings.

The series regarding the Snopes family in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Begun in 1940 and completed in 1959.

Lee Linn
The Ridge Books


The Color Purple
Alice Walker

Stated first edition with BCDE line on copyright page

The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.

Native Son

Richard Wright

First edition. First printing

Native Son is a novel by American author Richard Wright. The novel tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a black American youth living in utter poverty in a poor area on Chicago's South Side in the 1930s.

Lee Linn
The Ridge Books


Relativity, The Special and the General Theory
Albert Einstein
Henry Holt, NY, 1920. 

First American Edition. Very Good in a Very Good dust jacket. This copy is well bound, tight and clean. It is not ex-lib.


Jim Weyant
The Scribe's Perch


Twelve Years a Slave
Solomon Northup

This is the scarce first edition , first printing of this book.

 It has the following points: 1. No list by thousands (Fifth Thousand, Tenth Thousand, etc. at top of title page 2. earliest catalog in front immediately after pastedown, 3. 1853  stated on both title and copyright pages 4. no mention of a "London" edition on the title and copyright pages as in later printings. This true account of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery became a bestseller in the 1850s, sellling over 30,000 copies. Probably the most influential book, after Uncle Tom's Cabin, for the anti-slavery movement. The 2013 movie based on this book won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Mark Broomberg
Boomerang Books


Concert Poster for Muddy Waters Show
Jimmy's Club, New Orleans, Louisiana.

This framed Concert Flyer came from the collection of Walter Glenn, Atlanta businessman (Geode at Lenox Square) and music collector. Glenn had each item in his collection custom-framed for display. Muddy Waters (1913-1983) is considered the "Father of modern Chicago Blues." This flyer was produced for a show in New Orleans at Jimmy’s Club, probably late 1970s.

Mark Broomberg
Boomerang Books


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tampa Bay Times article features SunLit Festival

There's an article coming out in the Tampa Bay Times entertainment section this week about the new SunLit Festival, the celebration of literature, reading, and writing that begins on Saturday. It's already online here. 

The article by Times Book Editor Colette Bancroft tells a little bit about the origins of the SunLit Festival and features a photograph of two of the actors who are participating in the SunLit Crawl, a pub crawl with literature, on Wednesday, March 11. We're pleased, of course, because we're sponsoring the SunLit Crawl and we think it's going to be great fun for everyone involved.

The two actors, Nyela Hope (Zora Neale Hurston) and Deanna Scott (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings), are part of the Famous Dead Authors troupe from Venue Theater and Actors Studio, which has been so helpful in putting together the SunLit Crawl. Other members of the cast are Robert Gilligan (Jack Kerouac) and John M. Lowe (Ernest Hemingway). They are ably directed by Corinne Broskette, who heads Venue.

The other group figuring significantly in producing SunLit Crawl is Keep St. Pete Lit, whose president, poet Maureen McDole, believes in the power of literature to change the world. Keep St. Pete Lit works hard to promote and celebrate greater St. Petersburg's literary community. Maureen will serve as host for our first-ever Book Fair Live video program during the book fair. More on that later.

SunLit Crawl will be presented, as we've said, on the Wednesday before the book fair opens in some great downtown venues, some of our favorites, actually. The festivities begin with the Foreword Before Party at Wine Madonna at 6 p.m. Wine Madonna, 111 Second Avenue NE,  is operated by bestselling author Kristine Radish, who received the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Muse Literary Award this year. Kris promises some literary-themed wines and other surprises.

The party then moves on to the Chapters venues. Genaro Coffee Company, 1047 Central Avenue;  Bodega on Central, 1120 Central Avenue; and Green Bench Brewery, 1133 Baum Avenue N, all in the Edge District. That's where you'll find the actors and readers in their element. Genaro owners Patricia Francati and Preston Johnson offer a marvelous coffee shop setting for jazz concerts and poetry readings. Debbie and George Sayegh, owners of Bodega on Central, wholeheartedly support community activities and are graciously setting aside their covered outdoor patio space for this event. St. Petersburg natives Steven Duffy and Nathan Stonecipher are making the garden area of their popular Green Bench Brewery available for SunLit Crawl. The event is free but we hope everyone attending will purchase food and libations from these great local businesses.

The story isn't over until the Epilogue, and the party isn't over until the Epilogue After Party. That gets underway at Mitch and Crystal Faber's Old Key West Bar & Grill (formerly Butler's Old Key West), 2451 Central Avenue, at 9 p.m. or as soon as you get there after the readings.

That's where well-known folk impresario Pete Gallagher has put together an impressive program to wind up the SunLit Crawl festivities, including The Florida Boys, the Kelly Green Jazz Band, and the Fabulous St. Petersburg Sea Shanties. Says Peter: "A little known fact is that Kerouac loved sea shanties and referred to them in several books. He always heard sea shanties in the air when he was walking in San Francisco."

Pete Gallagher continues: "Kelly has a song called 'Book of Dreams,' inspired by Kerouac's book of the same title. She and several jazz players will improvise behind the Brad Morewood St. Pete Beat Poets, who will be reading both Kerouac and original works."

It all promises to be a night to remember, and we're happy to be a part of it. We hope to see you there and at the opening night of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair on Friday.

St. Petersburg. What a great place to be if you're a book lover.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We're posting a post on posters! Win a free poster!

You're probably aware that the theme of this year's Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is Modern Literature: The truth and beauty of fiction. This, of course, refers to anything in fiction published in the 20th or 21st centuries.

It's our way of highlight one part of the vast book fair, one that offers books of many different sorts from the very rare to ordinary reading copies, antique maps, vintage prints and photographs, antique autographs by famous people on significant documents, and so much more.

Last year we highlighted children's literature with the phrase Pages of Wonder, and we had a poster of a youngster in awe of the wondrous things bursting forth from his head, presumably upon reading pages of the book that seems to be precariously balanced on his noggin. (An aside: Few fair goers realized that the young lad who was the model for that poster was the son of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair's manager, Sarah Smith.)

Next year's theme is Written Relics: Treasured Tomes from Papyrus to Paperbacks. We'll have more about that theme later but you get the idea. We're looking for something to focus on and talk about each year. That's why we have the themes.

But back to the main topic of this blog post. This year's theme also has a poster connected with it, and you see it above. We think it captures not only the spirit of the theme but also our tropical setting. We'll have copies of this poster available for sale for collectors (and you can even send us an email and reserve your copy if you want to do so) but we wanted to alert you to a little promotion we're doing related to this poster over on Facebook. There's a chance for you to win a free poster. Be one of the first ten readers to share this post on Facebook or elsewhere, and send us an email to claim your prize. The first ten emails received will be the winners. Send your entry to

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Okay, everybody, this is last call. Sign up now!

Sign up for the Book Fair Bulletin and get special insights into the upcoming Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, plus nifty ticket deals unavailable anywhere else. This special email report is coming soon but it'll be available only for those who sign up. We promise not to bomb you with a ton of emails, and we promise never, ever to share your email with anybody else. We'll just stay in touch two or three times a year, and especially just before the book fair (like now). It's FREE, and you can cancel it at any time (but you won't want to because the Book Fair Bulletin will be full of all sorts fun stuff.) Anyway, you've been alerted. Here's how you sign up.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Literature & Libation, a combination with allure

One of the parts of the upcoming SunLit Festival we're particularly fascinated with is the SunLit Crawl, a Pub Crawl with Literature. Our abiding interest probably has something to do with the fact that we're sponsoring it. Still, the lure of Literature & Libation (see what we did there?) would remain strong no whether we were helping to make it happen or not.

That said, we're particularly looking forward to the performances of actors portraying Dead Authors and the living writers portraying themselves and offering a glimpse into some of their work. We're indebted to Maureen McDole, president of Keep St. Pete Lit, and Corinne Broskette, executive director of Venue Theatre Collective, whose efforts and colleagues are responsible for making this event come to life.

It's free and it all takes place on Wednesday, March 11, in the middle of the SunLit Festival. It's also made possible by the generosity of the various businesses that have made their spaces available in the name of literature. Okay, and libation. We'd encourage you to make a night of it. Order food and drink from these establishments so they'll recognize this sort of literary activity as good for business  and want to do it again next year.

Here's the schedule for the evening. We hope you'll be able to make it. Of course, there are 13 other activities that are part of SunLit Festival. We encourage you to go to the SunLit Festival website and learn more about all of these events. Facebook Events are set up for each activity during the week. Click on the GOING button and share the link with friends.

SunLit Festival
Wednesday, March 11
6 p.m.

111 2nd Avenue NE

Foreword Before Party — 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sip poetic wines and get in the mood for literary revelry

1047 Central Avenue

Chapter 1 — 7 p.m.
Matthew Jackson: Ode to the art of the proper pub crawl.

Chapter 2 — 7:30 p.m.
Jack Kerouac: The road ended in St. Petersburg but the Beat king’s legacy lives on. Portrayed by Robert Gilligan

Chapter 3 — 8 p.m.
Patrick J.F.X. Smith: Aventura Loco, a mad Mexican adventure in the manner of Kerouac but very, very different.

Chapter 4 — 8:30 p.m.
Zora Neale Hurston: The toast of the Harlem Renaissance still tells the tales of her Florida home. Portrayed by Nyela Hope

1120 Central Avenue

Chapter 1 — 7 p.m.

Maureen McDole: Poetic musing about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Chapter 2 — 7:30 p.m.

Ernest Hemingway: The old bard of Key West and Havana at his poignant and macho best. Portrayed by John M. Lowe

Chapter 3 — 8 p.m.
Cathy Salustri, Jon Kile, and Shelly Wilson: "Three Bars"  — Three Authors. Three Chapters. Many bad decisions.

Chapter 4 — 8:30 p.m.
Jack Kerouac: The road ended in St. Petersburg but the Beat king’s legacy lives on. Portrayed by Robert Gilligan


1133 Baum Avenue North

Chapter 1 — 7 p.m.
Cathy Salustri, Jon Kile, and Shelly Wilson: "Three Bars"  — Three Authors. Three Chapters. Many bad decisions.

Chapter 2 — 7:30 p.m.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: The hard-drinking, Pulitzer-winning scribe of the Big Scrub has a soft side, too. Portrayed by Deanna Scott.

Chapter 3 — 8 p.m.
Gloria Muñoz: Internal and external spaces. Endangerment of culture and expression

Chapter 4 — 8:30 p.m.
Ernest Hemingway: The old bard of Key West and Havana at his poignant and macho best. Portrayed by John M. Lowe

2451 Central Avenue

Epilogue After Party — 9 p.m.
Beat era poetry and jazz into the night.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Modern Literature: One man's must-reads

Author Sterling Watson, co-director of Writers in Paradise at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, took time for wide-ranging interview on our theme for the 2015 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, Modern Literature: The Truth and Beauty of Fiction. This is an excerpt from that interview. The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 13, 14, and 15 at The Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Early look at our 30-second spot for 2015 book fair

This is an early look at the 30-second TV spot that will be running on Bright House channels and on WUSF. Thank you to our broadcast and cable media sponsors.  You'll see featured in this spot some of the booksellers who participated in the 2014 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. They were gracious enough to take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to let us record them for this promotion. They did this with little or no rehearsal and preparation, which is a tribute to their abilities. Most everyone will be back for the 2015 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, so when you see them tell them you saw them on TV or on Facebook or YouTube or wherever you happen to come across this video.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The first annual SunLit Festival, a lit lover's dream

We're excited to announce a brand new literary event in Florida, and more specifically in St. Petersburg. In the six days leading up to the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, there were be myriad activities from which to choose.

Book lovers are going to be pretty sure this is what heaven is like. The first annual SunLit Festival begins on March 7 (that's the Saturday before the book fair.) Then all week long there will be literary face offs, a library centennial celebration, dramatic readings, a participatory exploration of books we read as kids, opening night of Shakespeare's As You Like It, and on it goes. You get the idea.

One of our favorite events is the SunLit Crawl, a pub crawl with literature. Four popular local establishments will play host and actors portraying dead authors and very much alive writers create fun as they take literature to the streets. It's probably one of our favorite events because we're sponsoring it. Truth is, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to be associated with such a fun event. It happens on Wednesday before the book fair. We think the picture above is kind of appropriate to represent the SunLit Crawl. It was taken in the 1950s in front of City Lights Book Shop with Beat generation writers and poets.

Below we're posting the news release that will give you a complete rundown of what's in store. Hooe you can make it to all of these events.

Sunlit Festival Celebration of Literature, March 7-15, 2015
Literary circles intersect with other arts and cultural endeavors during the SunLit Festival, a springtime celebration of literature March 7-15.  Fourteen literary events over nine days showcase St. Petersburg’s literary heritage and today’s vibrant literary community, raising the profile of our City of the Arts.

The SunLit Festival brings together various literary organizations and arts disciplines to celebrate literature, reading, and writing. The SunLit Festival is co-produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance with the program partners below.  For more please visit,, or

Participants and Schedule

1.  SunLit Festival Kickoff!  Honoring St. Petersburg’s Poet Laureate
The Friends of the Main Library will kick off the Festival and honor Peter Meinke, Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, who will receive the first annual SunLit Festival Award for lifetime achievement in letters. Award-winning writer Sterling Watson, co-director of the Writers in Paradise conference at Eckerd College, will be keynote speaker.   The Friends of the Main Library will present a collection of Mr. Meinke’s work for the Library’s collection. Mr. Meinke will read from his work.
Saturday, March 7
2 p.m.
St. Petersburg Public Library, 3745 9th Ave. North
Free Admission   

2.  Lucha Libro
Eight of Tampa Bay’s most daring writers will face off in live literary combat!  In Lucha Libro, two authors are given a random prompt and then they have five minutes to create an original piece of written brilliance, right before your eyes! After the frenzy of spontaneous creation, our combatants will present their work and a winner will be declared! Winners move on to the next round until only one remains! Theatricality and costumes encouraged!
Saturday, March 7

7 p.m.
Oleson Gallery Bloom Art Center, 910 5th Ave North
Free Admission

3.  Karla Harris sings the Dave and Iola Brubeck Songbook
Songs and stories about the great composer Dave Brubeck, who wrote with his wife, jazz lyricist Lola Brubeck.  Show will focus on her lyrics. Los Angeles pianist Ted Howe is featured with his trio.
Sunday, March 8
6 p.m.
Side Door Café, Palladium Theater, 253 5th Avenue North
Tickets: General Admission $22; Reserved $30

4.   Behind Baby Talk: Why Reading to Infants Really Matters

In “Behind Baby Talk,” James McHale details the real reason why reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers is so crucial.  The presentation helps distinguish “socio-emotional readiness” from “cognitive readiness,” explains why the latter is dependent on the former, and reflects on the attitudes and practices central to any effective undertaking seeking to support families and children’s success from the earliest moments of life. 

Dr. James P. McHale is Director of the USF St. Petersburg Family Study Center and Past President of the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health.
Monday, March 9
6 p.m.
Childs Park YMCA, 691 43rd Street South
Free Admission

5. Centennial Celebration Presentation with James Schnurr

Mirror Lake Library celebrates its 100th Anniversary!  Mirror Lake, located became an early reservoir for the small settlement in the late 1800s. Author, James Schnur has more than 100 images to share that take us back through the last century as the area around Mirror Lake transformed lower Pinellas as the first cultural and educational complex of the Sunshine City, home to the first schools of St. Petersburg and the Carnegie Library that celebrates its centennial in 2015. 

James Schnur is the university librarian for Special Collections at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library and a member of the USF St. Petersburg faculty. He will bring some of his St. Petersburg Through Time books to sign
Monday, March 9
5:30 p.m.
Mirror Lake Library, 280 5th Street North,
Free Admission

6. Fiction Live
Local actors pair up with local writers! Writers submit short stories or excerpts from novels and the actors present a dramatic reading. Fiction Live will benefit Project Shattered Silence, a teen theater/storytelling project.
Tuesday, March 10
8 p.m.
The Studio@620, 620 First Ave South
Tickets: $10 in advance; $12 at the door

7. SunLit Crawl - A Pub Crawl with Literature
Four dead writers. Seven living writers. Love. Hate. Life. Death. Hilarious laughter. Here’s where literature meets the street. It’s a moveable feast and a traveling circus complete with Rawlings, Hurston, Kerouac, Hemingway, and seven local writers sharing their pursuit of happiness, self-expression, and mad adventure at an avant garde coffee shop, an authentic Cuban restaurant, and a favorite local micro brewery.  SunLit Crawl drink specials at each venue.  Specific schedule TBA

Epilogue: It all ends in a Key West bar with Beat poetry and jazz. Produced by Keep St. Pete Lit and Venue Theatre Collective and Actors Studio. Sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.
Wednesday, March 11

7-10 p.m.
Genero Coffee Co., 1047 Central Avenue
Bodega Cuban Restaurant, 1120 Central Avenue
Green Bench Brewing Co., 1133 Baum Avenue North
Old Key West Bar & Grill, 2451 Central Avenue
Free Admission
Epilogue After Party begins at 9 p.m. at Butler’s Old Key West.

8. The Books that Changed Our Lives: The Secrets of Formative Reading
Renowned writing coach Roy Peter Clark will lead “The Secrets of Formative Reading,” an event that invites students, teachers, readers of all ages to come and think about and write about the books that changed their lives.  The date, March 12, is also the Kerouac birthday celebration, so don't be surprised if someone brings a copy of On the Road. Roy Peter Clark spent more than 20 years re-constituting his formative library, from nursery rhymes through novels he first read in college.  He will share his experiences revisiting these classics, and lead participants in a fun and creative writing exercise designed to bring our "old friends" back to life. Bring your own precious books to the session and show them off to others.
Thursday March 12
4 p.m.
The Poynter Institute, 801 Third Street South, St. Petersburg
Free Admission

9. St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival Opening Nigh
This is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies: As You Like It as you’ve never seen it before, with original music by Los Angeles music industry veteran Mark Matthews. This is St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural season.
Thursday, March 12
8 p.m.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
140 7th Ave South
Admission: Pay what you can
Performances: Thursday-Sunday, March 12-15 and March 19-22

10. The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair
The 34th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair will feature rare and unusual books as well as reading copies, antiquarian maps and prints, vintage photographs, ephemera, historical autographs, and related materials. More than 100 antiquarian book dealers from across the country gather each year for the three-day event at the Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg. This year’s theme: Modern Literature: The truth and beauty of fiction.
Info: and
Friday, March 13, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, 10-5 p.m.;
Sunday March 15, 11-4 p.m.

St. Petersburg Coliseum, 535 4th Avenue North
Admission: Tickets $10 for weekend pass or $6 per day

11. Boyd Hill Poetry Night Hike
Local poets read their works during the Boyd Hill Poetry Night Hike
Saturday, March 14
6:30 p.m.
Boyd Hill Nature Park, 1101 Country Club Way South
Tickets: $3 adults; $1.50 children

12.  Jack Kerouac Night at the Flamingo Bar
A celebration of this great man’s life, times and art at the bar where he had his last drink.   Music and beat poetry, all in the spirit of Kerouac. The Brad Morewood beat poets are usually there and they read their work backed by a highly-skilled improvisational jazz band led by Russian symphony conductor JohnTeryl Plumeri and jazzy guitarist Kelly Green.  Between the poets are some of the best musicians anywhere, including Ronny Elliott, Eric Andersen, Phil Lee, Tom Scudiero, the Florida Boys and many more.  A full night of music, intimate and informal – as Jack would have enjoyed it – on the front deck of the bar, next to the large window-sized photo of the author staring out at nearby Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
Saturday, March 14
7:30 -11 p.m.
The Flamingo Bar, 1230 9th St North
Free Admission

13. Pass the Plate: The FHM Passover Cook-off
Recipes help keep our links to the past alive.  Celebrate the 1st Annual FHM Passover Cook-off, Sharing Testimony Through Food, with special recipes from local Survivors. The public will have a chance to taste the dishes and vote on their favorites, and local celebrity judges will present a Judges’ Choice Award. Author Joanne Caras will help kick off the new competition, and share her experiences compiling The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, which is filled with survivors’ recipes and stories to pass down to future generations.   Stories and food tastings – what could be better?
Sunday, March 15
2 p.m.
Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 5th Street South
Free Admission

14. Get Lit with Keep St. Pete Lit
It’s part game night, part night at the bar – we’ll have word-minded games, so you can feel like getting lit makes you, well, more lit!
Sunday, March 15
7 p.m.
The Amsterdam, 1049 Central Ave.
Free Admission

Friday, January 23, 2015

Have you seen the latest news on papyrus?

Pompeii fresco of Greek lyric poet Sappho.
We've been reading with utter fascination the recent developments with ancient papyrus writings that have been in the news recently. A few days ago, there were reports from all over about the biblical scholars who may have found a fragment of the oldest known Gospel of Mark inside an Egyptian mummy mask. If it turns out to be authentic, that surely is an astounding find.

Now comes news from Smithsonian Magazine that new x-ray technology is allowing Italian scientists to study for the first time ancient scrolls from Pompeii blackened in the volcanic eruption in 79 AD and made so fragile that they could be destroyed just touching them.

With the new x-ray machine, scientists won't have to touch the scrolls to study them. They'll just scan them like CT scanner, only a little different. It's all quite technical but the gist is that ancient inks sit on top of the papyrus fibers just enough that they can be seen in the x-ray images.

Anybody who is attracted to the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, of course, is going to sit up and take notice when developments like this pop up so we figure we're probably not alone in seeking all the details. From what we've seen, the technological breakthrough has just begun to yield something the scientists can work with so it may be some time before there are any great revelations. Apparently there are some 1,800 blackened scrolls that have been discovered.

As it happens, next year's theme for the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is Written Relics: Papyrus to paperbacks. It's a great theme that gets to the heart of the many varied reasons collectors collect books. It'll be fun to explore in 2016. Maybe by then there will be some new developments on these two stories.

In the meantime, we're focused on this year's book fair. The theme this year is Modern Literature: the truth and beauty of fiction. We'll be talking about that in much greater detail in these days leading up to the book fair, so stay tuned and share with your friends.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

For book lovers, something a little different

Here's something a little different for book lovers. We came across a Washington Post article about this lady. Her name is Maria and she has gained something of a celebrity status for her practice of making videos in which she speaks very, very softly.

For some people, her whispers induce a pleasurable tingle all over their bodies. It's known as autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). It's like what might have happened as a kid and your friend whispered in your ear and you felt a shiver and pulled away giggling. In the Post article, Maria described it as a "shower of sparkles" and "like warm sand being poured all over you ..."

Hey, we like the beach so it was enough to send us poking around her YouTube channel, GentleWhispering, and wouldn't you know it, we discovered Maria's offering for book lovers that you see embedded above.

She had another interesting one set in a library in which she seemed to be portraying the world's quietest librarian. She typed information to issue us a library card but we left before it was ready. You'll have to find that one for yourself. This ASMR effect may not be for everyone but some will enjoy it.

We'd rather sit in our own library and listen to the sound of pages turning in a book we bought at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Past is prologue: a little history of the book fair

This is the 34th year for the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. Sometimes fair goers wonder about the history of the book fair. How did it start? Was it always at The Coliseum? Is anybody still around who remembers the old days? We're always happy when we get questions like that because we've got answers.

Yes, there are people still around after all these years who were involved with the first Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. No, it wasn't always at The Coliseum, though few would dispute the suggestion that this is probably the perfect venue for this book fair. The story of how the book fair started and some of its history over the years is told in the FABA Museum, an online space on our website devoted to our history. We encourage you to click the link and go visit the museum. It's free.

One of the videos that you'll find in the FABA Museum is displayed at the top of this post. In it, book fair chairman Michael Slicker talks about the earliest days of the book fair and where the idea for it came from in the first place. We hope you'll enjoy the video and that you'll take the time to visit the FABA Museum and learn a little about the background of this amazing event.

As always, we'd love to hear from you -- your thoughts, your ideas, your responses to what we've posted.