A couple of friends have been cheering me on as I get Black and Bookish off the ground, so when they heard about the 37th Annual Vintage Paperback Collector’s Show and Sale (what a mouthful!), they were eager to bring me along. All they knew is that there would be people selling old books, so that’s all I knew. 37th annual? How had I never heard of this?
There was a moderate-sized crowd; people moved slowly from table to table to investigate the textures and titles. I wandered the floor for a bit, not really knowing what to look for. I didn’t have a plan going in- something I will try to avoid for future events. Most of the time, I followed around my friends like a little puppy. They were looking for very specific book editions and appeared much more put-together than I felt.
I probably wasn’t noticed at all, but I felt like everyone knew I was an imposter. What did I know of vintage paperbacks? Nothing. I would pick up a book here or touch a shelf there, but I just couldn’t appreciate all they had to offer. With the word vintage in the title, I had mentally logged Olivia Butler as an author I could find; her work was sparse. I found one signed copy of a first edition, but $35 felt too steep for a paperback book. Looking back, I should have gotten it, and it would have stayed in the plastic bag it came in.
There were a lot of detective stories, some sci-fi/fantasy, and lots of books you might categorize as noir. And more than one table had 90s books and magazines (I had a nice conversation with one vendor selling books based on the Clueless movie, all of which I had already read in my youth). That didn’t feel vintage at all.
I got bored. I should have taken more photos. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I had decided to head to the exit and wait for my friends. Next to the entrance/exit was a table with very few books on it. The man behind the table was an older, black gentlemen, so I paused to look at the book titles. (Profiling?) I had seen the same man and books when I walked in, but didn’t want to draw attention to myself as the only black person stoping at the only black vendor table the moment I walked in (correction: there was another black woman also buying books that day, so I was one of two).
We began chatting for a bit and it took me way longer than it should have that HE was the author of all of these books, Mr. Odie Hawkins.
In our conversations, I learned he was one of the original members to come out of the Watts Writer’s Workshop. This was a group of men that got together after the Watts Rebellion in 1965 to do what they knew how to do- write. And that is what Mr. Hawkins has spend the rest of his life doing.
He has over 15 books, has written for tv and film, and continues to book speaking engagements. I’m sure he could have talked about his history for hours on end, but he had to butter up to all the other guest and eventually go to sign books. I talked to his lovely wife for a while, and got to blush a bit when I showed them pictures of my girls.
I walked away with a signed copy of one of his short story collections, Brazilian Nights, and I made sure to leave my contact information to keep in touch with their goings-on. I’m really excited to get to this book in the coming weeks.
I only spent an hour or so there, but probably won’t be visiting the Vintage Paperback Sale and Show any time soon. It was great to see all the old copies, and talk with people who had been collecting well before I was born. However, it wasn’t really my speed. As a lover of brand-new, hardcover books, the collectors can keep their paperbacks.