Opening Day

> And here we are—56 students from 26 U.S. states (and two from Canada), nestled in a bowl surrounded by mountains under the dome of the western sky. Some are veterans who’ve sold books for decades, and some are thinking of starting. But all are dedicated students of the book, one way or another.

The finest moment of the opening reception was when Rob Rulon-Miller, the seminar director, announced that a scholarship to the seminar had been created (in perpetuity) in honor of Edwin Glaser, who has been a faculty member since the seminar began in 1978. We all gave Mr. Glaser a standing ovation, and I saw many surreptitious eye-dabs in the crowd. Such service is the bedrock of the trade’s future.

The faculty had their share of logistical problems, but they bore it up well: the keynote speaker was running late due to travel delays; the air conditioning in the room wasn’t working; and no water was available for us poor low-elevation folks (like me, who went from sea level to 6,000 feet) who were dehydrated under the western sun; then the projector failed five minutes into Hannes Blum’s presentation (CEO of ABE Books), which rather put him off stride and opened the door to a question-and-answer discussion that almost became a feeding frenzy, (fueled by the announcement on Saturday that Amazon was acquiring ABE).

Fortunately, Mr. Blum held his ground with polite professionalism, and commendable poise; Daniel deSimone (Curator of the Lessing Rosenwald Collection at the Library of Congress) went above and beyond the call and led a rescue mission to get several flats of water bottles to us, the wilting bibliophiles; several other staffers worked the AV problem and rustled up a new projector, which came back on line eventually and allowed Mr. Blum to finish. In spite of the running problems, very good and interesting questions were asked, and important points raised. It bodes well for the rest of the seminar (which of course will be in a more controlled environment), though it will be interesting to see how many travel-fatigued people will be bright-eyed and ready for action at 8:30am tomorrow.

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