Things to do During NYC Rare Book Week, April 1–8

March 31, 2014 Updated: April 1, 2014

NEW YORK—The New York Antiquarian Book Fair may be the best-known event during Rare Book Week, but many other events will also celebrate the printed word and the international community that keeps it alive—despite its rumored demise.

Whether the only pages you’ve flipped recently were virtual ones on your iPad or you have tomes on every shelf, everyone can find inspiration in print. Manuscripts, maps, and rare out-of-print editions come in all subjects relevant to anyone’s field of interest. 

Those with a more artsy than literary bent can discover the ways in which innovative artists are reimagining books as art objects. These include the use of imaginative binding, sculptural elements, and borrowing elements from other printed forms such as maps and postcards. In many cases the books’ forms, artwork, and organization enrich the reader’s experience in unexpected ways.


The week, which runs April 1–8, starts off with the Chapbook Festival at the CUNY Graduate Center. While many events are of particular interest to the literary community, several major ones will draw a general interest audience. 

As part of the festival, the Center for Book Arts will hold bookbinding workshops on April 1. All day on April 3, the book fair presents the latest work from 60 publishers around the country. Beginning at noon, Poetry Project will give a screenings of a 1970s television program called “Public Access Poetry,” in which performers and poets gave half-hour readings.

Harvard’s Leah Price will explore the big questions of contemporary literature—how to define the book in the age of digital publishing, e-readers, and Twitter. She lectures on “Books as Social Media” on April 2 at 6 p.m. at New York University’s Bobst Library.

Visitors are welcome daily at Bowne & Co. Stationers and Bowne Printers’ shop on Water Street, where they can learn how to print using a 19th century letter press. 

Over the weekend, the inaugural Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair will take place as a downtown alternative and complement to the more uptown Antiquarian Book Fair. Appraisals are available Sunday 1–3 p.m. with admission.

As usual, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Doyle, Heritage, and Swann will hold themed auctions. The Center for Book Arts will also hold its benefit auction.

For a full events listing, visit the Rare Book Week website