A passion for bound literature is about more than a good story. The tale is a big part of finding a treasure, but different elements make the hunt all the more enjoyable. There's that scent that is distinctly "book." Not dust, nor an unpleasant odor. It's a soft mustiness that draws one into a book as a place of refuge.
Feeling a certain weight in a hardback or the buttery soft edges of a paperback can make all the difference in selecting a book. For some, the focus is on pristine condition that ensures future monetary worth. For others, like us, it's all in the character: the onionskin of old dictionaries, the worn fabric binding of a jacket-less tome or, better yet, the decades-old inscription found in a book that was once someone else's gem. These things can make bookworms feel nostalgia for what was never even theirs.
This weekend, the Dallas Book & Paper Show is Mecca to fanatics of the paper age. Rare and out-of-print books, literary first editions (Dickens, Hemingway) and modern first editions (Grafton, Grisham) abound, along with antiquarian finds and fine embossed leather bindings. Children's books (like Nancy Drew) are a fairly large part of the nostalgic lure of the show. Texana, Americana and pulp fans can be sated as well by making the circuit through the racks and reams.
The "paper" part of the show refers to ephemera, or collectible paper, from postcards and old advertising to brochures and vintage magazines. Just fondling a World's Fair postcard or a vintage Vogue can send you back to a place you've never been.
For those who are more interested in preservation, the show also features dealers who can determine the cost of book restoration. And book-search services are also available. (Three words: Lengthy, Syd Hoff. Anyone?) Hunt for that Ngaio Marsh mystery or that Chas. Addams first edition...then hand them over to us in appreciation for telling you all about this wonder world. Seriously, we mean it, hand them over.