In 2022 the event had to move to September because of Covid restrictions but will now continue in its May slot.
Pom Harrington, chairman of Firsts and owner of dealer Peter Harrington, said: “We are lucky to have a strong exhibitor list of dealers who support the fair and we have a commitment with Saatchi Gallery for May this year and going forward.”
Meeting the challenges
The ABA’s flagship fair runs at the Saatchi Gallery from May 18-21 hosting 100 exhibitors. Like all international fairs, it has faced the challenges of lockdown restrictions, rising costs and Brexit regulations.
“Costs are a challenge, but we hope we are over the worst of the increases” said Harrington. “The main reason for continuation is the success of the dealers at the fair and last year we reported some record sales. We are expecting a number of international collectors, librarians and dealers to visit this year.”
Last year, the fair reported £7.2m in sales with 49 more dealers in attendance than in 2021 when many travel restrictions were still in effect.
This year’s May event also coincides with the London International Antiquarian Book Fair (May 20-21 at the IBIS London Earls Court).
Harrington said that Brexit still poses a challenge to the fair.
“International visitor numbers have bounced back, but the challenges of shipping paperwork sadly has put off some exhibitors from abroad,” he added.
“It is coupled with a later New York book fair in April, which has meant a number of dealers had to choose there or London, and both fairs have lost out. Hopefully this should get better in time as dealers get used to the new regulations.”
There are set to be 22 exhibitors at Firsts attending from overseas, incorporating 13 countries.
The fair has a blockbuster theme of Shakespeare with several events planned to celebrate the Bard and at least one folio confirmed on offer.
See the Books, Maps & Prints supplement this week for more.