Promoting passion in book collecting
This is the criteria that Stephen Fowler, owner of The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookshop in Toronto, uses to procure his inventory. What a treat to see this dashing man in the middle of the NY Times Men’s Fashion magazine. Finally, someone (Jody Rosen) has hit upon the beauty of the business I am proud to be a part of. As I sat in bed, drinking my morning coffee, I felt a sense of HOPE, Yes hope. As Rosen states, “The book industry is under siege by digital technology.” But one could also say the Antiquarian Book business is stuck…stuck in its own sense of importance. There is a whole generation of people out there that are looking for interesting, atypical artifacts/books. Yes, you can read the latest bestseller on your Kindle, but people are aching for a little something eccentric that doesn’t cost a lot.
“The experience of Web browsing makes it possible for a shop like this to exist,” Fowler says. “The randomness of the book displays, they’re like the Web – masses of unrelated information popping up next to each other, their context pretty much wiped out. Basically, the Monkey’s Paw is a celebration of old print culture, presented in a way that resonates with digital-age people.”
Last fall I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Fowler at the Toronto Antiquarian Book Fair. As I wandered into his booth, I knew I had come upon something magical. Unlike other booths at the fair, this one was filled with what I now know is B.A.M.A. books. One of the books I purchased was Charm & Poise For Getting Ahead, by the Marguerite Bant Modeling & Finishing School. Milady Publishing Corp. With it’s bright pink cover, and black and white pictures of those “poised” ladies…it was a no brainer. Another book I purchased from Mr. Fowler was, So Red The Nose or Breath in the Afternoon, Cocktail Recipes by 30 Leading Authors such as Ogden Nash, Dr. Suess, Lucius Beebe, and many more. Obviously The Monkey Paw has hit a nerve in this odd business of book selling…and I am so very happy the NY Times has hit upon it too.