MBS in Akron

by Jennifer Larson, Professor of Classics, Modern and Classical Language Studies, Kent State University

MBS members promoted miniature books at the 2018 Akron Antiquarian Book and Paper Fair, held at the John S. Knight Center on March 30-31, and sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Bibliophilic Society. Todd Sommerfeld brought items from his extensive collection to share with fairgoers, and he was accompanied on Friday by Wendell Sommerfeld. Gail Faulkner drove down from Novi, MI to spend Saturday at the Fair, and Jennifer Larson, who lives in the area, also helped staff the MBS table.

This year’s fair drew 700 attendees over two days, about 100 more than in 2016. The MBS table featured antique and modern miniature books for people to handle, a glass case of more fragile treasures, back issues of the MBS Newsletter, exhibition catalogues, and various resources for the study of miniature books. Children were drawn to the table by the sight of the little books as well as a set of plush toys featuring Pusheen (the chubby feline of social media fame) reading or sitting atop books. Both adults and children were fascinated by the ultra micro-miniature books on dispay, which they were able to view with magnifying glasses. Many were also delighted by the books of unusual structure, such as a miniature pop-up, a scroll, and Robert E. Massmann’s 1984 book in the form of Dard Hunter’s paper mill, Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections. In addition to handing out MBS literature, Todd distributed his keepsake books to those who stopped by, especially the children.

Gail noted that many visitors asked interesting questions about the technical aspects of miniature book production, such as paper thickness and how computer fonts can be adjusted to print tiny pages. “Planting the seeds of miniature book awareness is a start… I think telling people about our Conclave is a great introduction. But maybe also telling people what we've done, such as going into the schools to talk about miniature books and how to make them (the Brogans); the toolkit by Lilly Library, etc.- may promote more interest in presentations, doing workshops with children and adults, that can result in membership growth.”

In addition to raising awareness about miniature books and (we hope) attracting new members, setting up a table at events like this provides MBS members an enjoyable opportunity to connect and talk about books outside of the Conclave. Overall, all involved consider this event a big success!

Maya Stein