Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Antiquarian books anything but outdated, say collectors

ST. PETERSBURG — Never mind that the iPad, Apple's much anticipated electronic reading tablet, hits stores in 20 days to strike what many say will be the death knell for books.

Bibliophiles couldn't have cared less Saturday as they combed through the stacks for rare finds at the 29th Annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair at the Coliseum in downtown.

"There is nothing like holding a nice book," said Mark Raffauf, a 51-year-old photographer. "I don't care what anyone else says, you can't get that kind of feel or smell from a screen."

There was a swagger to the more than 2,000 who attended the fair, which featured about 115 specialized dealers from the United States and Europe. Sure, they might have been bookworms. But no one was going to bully them into reading from something as debased as an e-reader.

To this bunch, liquid crystal displays are for losers; leather binding, parchment and ink rule.

"The Kindle is convenient, but I don't want to read a book from a little screen," said Dennis Melhouse, owner of First Folio Rare Books in Paris, Tenn. "You're not going to get a signed copy of Leaves of Grass on the Kindle."

Sure enough, Melhouse sells a copy signed by Walt Whitman. He'll sell it to you for $8,000.

While his business is down 30 percent, he doesn't blame technology. It's the economy, he said.

But with some predicting that the printed word is facing extinction in the Digital Age, Saturday's turnout was proof that books are here to stay, said Sarah Smith, manager of the fair.

In fact, the rare and specialized book market will probably be better off as more and more books are published electronically, Smith said. With fewer books actually published, more books will qualify as rare and collectible, she reasons.

"That's an optimistic guess on my part," she said. "But I truly believe that there is some core part of being human that needs to hold and see part of our history. It's amazing to hold something that was held once by Ben Franklin. That's not something you can get electronically."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or mvansickler@sptimes.com.

Antiquarian books anything but outdated, say collectors 03/13/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 13, 2010 9:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Appeals court deals blow to Trump administration travel ban

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court dealt another blow to President Donald Trump's revised travel ban targeting six-Muslim majority countries on Thursday, siding with groups that say the policy illegally targets Muslims.

    Donald Trump will likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. [Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via AP]
  2. Former USF head basketball coach Orlando Antigua, center, and assistant coach Rod Strickland, right, during a 2015 game at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Why do people even hold hands, anyway?

    Human Interest

    Nothing lit up the internet this week quite like hand holding, or the lack of it.

    US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Airport on May 23, 2017. AFP PHOTO / Filippo Monteforte.
  4. Kickoff times announced for Florida-Michigan, FSU-Alabama

    Blogs

    College football's blockbuster Sept. 2 season openers finally have kickoff times.

  5. Why not Kaepernick?: Ryan Fitzpatrick could be ‘Earl Morrall to Jameis Winston’s Bob Griese’

    Blogs

    As the football world continues to question the Bucs’ motives for signing Ryan Fitzpatrick over Colin Kaepernick as Jameis Winston’s backup, veteran NFL writer Rick Gosselin weighs in with this post titled “The Bucs are playing a mind …

    The Bucs want Ryan Fitzpatrick to mentor Jameis Winston.