In the Glendale Civic Auditorium, the smell of old books waifed in the air, mingling with the myriad of ongoing conversations, the shuffling of plastic, and flipping of book pages as attendees to the 37th Annual Los Angles Vintage Paperback Show got underway last Sunday morning, April 3. With over sixty book sellers in attendance, the room was packed with stacked books on and under tables throughout the auditorium. Approximately 55 guests were set up at vendor tables or taking turn in the signing area in front of the stage, making themselves available to sign books and chat with fans. Some of the guest highlights included Lisa Morton, Cody Goodfellow, Joe R. Lansdale, William F. Nolan, and Wendy & Richard Pini (ElfQuest) – many who had long lines of people waiting to have one book or bags full of books to be signed.
As a first-time attendee, there were a lot of vintage paperbacks, just as expected; however, there was so much more on offer than the pulpy paperbacks of yesteryear. There were more recent hardcover fiction books, periodicals dating from the 1960s that included Analog, Weird Tales, and quite a few science fiction-focused magazines featuring the writings of Philip K. Dick, Dean Koontz, and Harlan Ellison, among others. The covers were intriguing relics documenting the fascination and possibilities of space exploration and habitation of other planets and worlds. Art books, publicity stills, posters, and a few collectibles could be found, as well.
It was fascinating to watch the pros at work. Canvas bags were a prerequisite for carrying books in to have signed and/or books bought to be taken home. Casual shoppers might or might not have a list; however, the serious buyer typically was checking either their iPad or binder for current values/pricing of books they found. One had to be careful stepping around the vendor tables since there were usually people going through long boxes – Yes, those familiar white boxes come in handy at book shows, too! – under almost all of the tables. Often, leisure shoppers were nudged aside when a serious buyer was trying to get to a particular item.
Standing in the autograph lines sometimes resulted in a short wait, but most were least 20 to 30 minutes of waiting. It afforded the opportunity to talk about finds or swap stories of this or that writer’s behavior or exchange with said fan at other shows in the past. It was interesting to note how often individuals waiting for said autographs only wanted an author’s signature versus having a personalized dedication. Like buyers, there was a hierarchy of collectors, from the fan who wanted a personalized autograph to the individual who looked at an autograph as dollars added to a selling price of a book back at their shop.
There were some curios that captured the eye. For instance, there was an early Ian Fleming copy of Octopussy and The Living Daylights featuring the eclectic cover by Richard Chopping (if you are not familiar with his Fleming covers – do look him up!) and several books published by Arkham House, established by August Derleth two years after H.P. Lovecraft’s death. And there were also some lovely books by Prince Valiant artist Gary Gianni, and, in particular, a striking illustrated one for Jules Verne’s story Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I’m sure there were many other finds just waiting to be discovered, but there is only so much time and so much money in the wallet.
Having so many vendors in one room was a major highlight to the show and of immense value for the more serious collector; however, the show was a fun event and definitely worth the admission of $5 and the free parking. The one disappointment is that this wonderful event comes but once a year!
*Click here for a photo gallery from the event. All photos by Michele Brittany.