Last weekend I attended my first ever Clunes Booktown Festival (just the name sounds magical – ‘booktown’, love it!). I hit the road early Saturday morning, with my dad tagging along for company after a friend couldn’t make it. The sun was out and needless to say I was pretty excited for the day ahead. I had meant to go to the previous year’s festival but it didn’t happen; now I was finally on my way.
I arrived at about 10.30am – and the place was already packed! After parking on someone’s front lawn (they didn’t seem to mind), there was just enough time for a stroll through the book bazaar on Fraser Street before sitting down for the talk, ‘Rare and Beautiful Books: A Beginners’ Guide To Book Collecting’, at the Fed Uni Stage.
Presented by John Arnold, an avid book collector, and Roger Clarke, the acquisitions librarian at Federation University, the talk covered the basics on book collecting (which is different to just acquiring lots of books!). A collector is someone who acquires books with a purpose, usually within a niche area defined by topic or author, for example. And a collector isn’t just after any book; they are after the best copy, such as the rarest (not necessarily the oldest), first/signed editions, and books that are physically in good shape (dust jackets are especially valuable, take care of them!).
It was fascinating to learn about the little details and the language of book collecting, as well as discover the world of online catalogues that some people browse every day just waiting for a certain copy of a book to become available. They also spoke of book collecting from a library’s perspective in the digital age, and how much more selective libraries now are. It is not unusual for donations to make up a large amount of a library’s print books.
I didn’t attend any other talks that day, as I was a bit late in booking tickets and the ones of interest to me had sold out; but I can’t say I felt I was missing out as I strolled along the book bazaar, meandering from stall to stall, bookshop to tent-covered table. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and already have a hefty to-read list on the go, so was happy to browse and simply be overwhelmed by the possibilities.
I did end up purchasing a couple of Emily Rodda’s Teen Power Inc. mysteries (a favourite from my primary school library), as well as this gorgeous print with one of my oft-repeated sayings, ‘so many books, so little time’ from www.jubly-umph.com. After a stop at a cosy little bakery café, it was time to head home. Until next year, Clunes!
In other writing news, I’ve submitted a piece of flash fiction to my writing group’s anthology and completed a round of edits. There will be a launch party for this in late July, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product and reading everyone else’s submissions. If you’re in the Melbourne area and are interested in joining a writer’s group, you can request to join their Facebook group.
I’m also thrilled to have finished the latest round of edits on my children’s book manuscript – just need to type them up! I will be sending it out to some beta readers this week, and taking a break from this project in the meantime.
…Which is great timing, as I’m leaving for my Europe trip this Friday! The blog will be quiet while I’m away, but look out for my Facebook page where I’ll be sharing updates on anything literary-related on my travels (think Scandinavian bookshops, Harry Potter studios, Oxford University etc.)
Until next time!