Biblio-Connecting will return to its pre-COVID format next month!
I am so tired of dealing with this coronavirus pandemic. They call it COVID-19. I think they should call it COVID-19, 20, and 21. This fourth wave, the Delta variant, is still raging across the country, particularly in Florida. And it continues to affect how bibliophiles can connect with each other in this book world. Earlier this year, COVID caused the cancellation of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair for the second year in a row. And as I write this post, the New York Antiquarian Book Fair is virtual this year. I'm still holding out hope that the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair will become a reality again next April.
As a member of the Florida Bibliophile Society (FBS), I will volunteer to help man the hospitality table at the entrance to the book fair next April. Our primary purpose is to check books in that people bring with them in hopes that a bookseller will buy them. That bookseller has to come to the hospitality table with the patron in order to view the books. We do, however, have ulterior motives for volunteering to man the hospitality table. We get free access into the book fair. Some of the booksellers give us discounts on our purchases. Moreover, we get to promote the Florida Bibliophile Society!
Thousands of booklovers attend the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. They all have to walk past our hospitality table. Hundreds of booklovers stop at our table and sign up to receive our virtual newsletter, The Florida Bibliophile. While they are writing their names and email addresses on the sheet, we have about twenty seconds to entice them to join the Florida Bibliophile Society. But out of these hundreds of booklovers who stop by our table and sign up to receive our newsletter, only about fifteen of them decide to become FBS members.
That has frustrated some of the members of the Florida Bibliophile Society. They enjoy being FBS members and want other booklovers to share in the fun. But try as FBS members might, many a booklover decides to continue going it alone in this book world. Me? I just smile. When I hear these frustrations from other FBS members, I tell them about my own experience.
The first Florida Antiquarian Book Fair I ever attended was the March 1990 Book Fair. Even back then the Florida Bibliophile Society was manning the hospitality table. I stopped at the table, signed up to receive the FBS newsletter, listened to their spiel, but decided not to join at that time. I did, however, plan on attending the April FBS meeting that year. But then I completely forgot about the meeting. Their newsletter mentioned a season-ending banquet in May. But I didn't want to crash the party because I hadn't joined the club yet. I'm an avid football fan, and when the Florida Bibliophile Society began a new season in September 1990, I was sitting in my recliner back home watching football. I attended every Florida Antiquarian Book Fair from 1990 to 2003. But it wasn't until 2003 that I finally joined the Florida Bibliophile Society. My only regret is that I did not join sooner!
I have mentioned the Florida Bibliophile Society no less than 120 times in prior posts to my Biblio-Connecting blog. You can click on the link and read about what the Florida Bibliophile Society has done for bibliophiles in the past. Or, you can continue reading, and I'll tell you what the Florida Bibliophile Society has planned for bibliophiles this season.
The Florida Bibliophile Society begins a new season with a Show and Tell on Sunday Sep 19th. The theme will be "The Treasures We Found During the Summer Break." But since the coronavirus is still raging in Florida, we will begin the season with a virtual meeting on Zoom. Then at our October meeting, FBS member Ed Cifelli will give a presentation on the Jersey poet John Ciardi. This meeting will be held at Lighthouse Books in Dade City, and will be limited to those members who have been vaccinated. Masks will be required. Everyone will have the opportunity to browse and buy books after the presentation.
As of this writing, and provided that all Floridians can get a handle on this coronavirus, all our other monthly meetings are tentatively scheduled to be in-person meetings. We will meet at the Seminole Community Library during odd months, and the Macdonald-Kelce Library, University of Tampa during even months. These meetings will be hybrid meetings, meaning it will be both in-person and broadcast virtually via Zoom. One benefit of virtual meetings is that our speakers don't have to be present at the meeting to give their presentations. We have taken advantage of that! Last season Nigel Beale, Mark Samuels Lasner, and Rebecca Rego Barry gave presentations from miles and miles away! And we will take advantage of Zoom this season!
In November, Kurt Zimmerman, President and founding member of the Book Hunters Club of Houston, and author of Rare Book Hunting: Essays and Escapades, will give a hybrid presentation straight from Conroe, Texas. In January, local mystery writer Elaine Togneri, the author of over forty published stories will give an in-person presentation at the Seminole Community Library. In February, Reid Byers, Vice President of the Baxter Society, and author of The Private Library, will give a presentation from the great state of Maine. Zoom lets us go far far away for our next speaker. In March, Boštjan Petrič, book collector and author of The Fate of Books blog, will give his presentation from Slovenia! Also in March, the Florida Bibliophile Society will sponsor a special event on March 31st at the Largo Public Library. Noted Walt Whitman collector Ed Centeno will give his presentation, "Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass Still Relevant to Modern Times." Our speaker for our April meeting, Ray Betzner, curator of the website Studies in Starrett, will give his presentation from his new home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Earlier that month, FBS members 'hope' to man the hospitality table at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.
You can read about all our meetings in the official newsletter of the Florida Bibliophile Society, The Florida Bibliophile. You don't, however, have to be a resident of Florida to join our society. We already have members from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Take my advice! Join now, not later!