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.