Big Ego Books: Vogue and Bogue of the Aussie Book Fairs
Thursday December 3, 2015·
Have you ever scoured the shoddily built shelves at a Vinnies and found a title as compelling as The Bachelor's Bar Companion: A Guide For Unsubtle Seducers? How about a mint edition of How It Feels To Be Adopted?
Raquel Caballero and Emily Hunt are two of the sharpest wits in the book selling biz. Their online store Big Ego Books is imbued with the kind of obsessive vigour and aesthetic appreciation you couldn't imitate if you tried, as is their arousing Instagram account. Both practising artists and collaborative creators of the legendary DUKE magazine, Raquel and Emily understand the value of a weird find as much as they reverently appreciate a comprehensive artist monograph. The section 'Trust Us' in the site's categorised virtual shelves a testament to their book finding joy.
We asked them to give us a window into the way they collate such a minefield of gems from the crusty-man dominated world of Australian book fairs. And they delivered in the way they do best: a list of highs and lows – fine transactions and gross cess pools of humanity – in a throwback to their excellent Vogue/Bogue blog where they've praised culture and torn Sydney service industry pests to hilarious shreds. Merry Christmas page sniffers.
The Thrill of the Find
Ultimately this is what keeps us coming back for more. Because we're addicted to finding the gold in amongst so much crap that's been published. Honestly if you're thinking of doing the rounds of the book fairs, good luck! The ratio goes: 100 Monets to 1 Keith Haring.
Beating a Dealer
Not physically! We wish! But the best is when you grab an awesome book, just seconds before a dealer is about to get there. And his face just falls. Awww poor baby, you missed out! HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Getting a big gulp at Maccas afterwards because none of these places are air conditioned and because we need to treat ourselves after having fought off all these disgusting old men dealers. We also love to read the Daily Telegraph while we're eating our happy meals, because it makes us hate the world, and that feels good because our lives are great.
Lining up in the morning
Hands down the worst part of all this biz. The line-up in the morning is SO depressing because this is where you have to stand around and listen to these old bastards being passive aggressive to each other while they talk about their past scores. These guys are total jaded bottom feeders who are more like gamblers in their addiction for books than true book lovers. We hate them! And we hate the fact that we have to stoop as low as them. But that's just our lives now. What can we do?
The bum rush
These guys don't listen to the rules! It's like they're children, playing mind games with the poor old ladies running these charity book fairs. One time we even overheard two dealers offering a $50 cash bribe so they could be allowed in before everybody else. No joke!
When the doors open, it's a total free-for-all, Black Friday-style. Except instead of giant plasma TVs, it's shitty copies of Harry Potter!
Coming up with nothing
It's a serious desert out there in the Aussie book trade. Sometimes we'll line up for hours, do the stampede inside, push the old bastards out of our way, scan thousands of books, and after all that, we find NOTHING. Maybe we're just too selective but this is our rule: if we don't personally want to own the book, we don't sell the book. Plain and simple.