Brilliant young booksellers: Daylon Orr

Our Bright Young Booksellers series continues today with Daylon Orr, Executive Director of Boo-Hurray and founder of Fugitive materials At New York.

How did you get into rare books?

I started as an archivist and cataloger of rare books at the age of 20 – an unexpected but life-changing decision. Growing up, I was an infinitely curious reader but I never thought much about the book as an object. As a bike courier working towards my undergraduate degree at Hunter College, I ran the radio station and organized the zine library for 8-Ball Community, an independent publisher and artist collective. I came across a Boo-Hooray publication of archival material and, wanting to know more, approached their booth at New York Art Book Fair. I started as an intern at Boo-Hooray soon after, got hired soon after, and started cataloging the Douglas Turner Ward Archives, now at Emory University. Today, I work with an incredible team to produce catalogs and antiquarian shortlists, and place archives and ephemera in museums and universities – and have started my own project selling books and books. ‘editing, Fugitive materialsin 2020. I’ve also had the good fortune to work with several superb rare booksellers on other projects, including Heather O’Donnell of Honey & Wax and Adam Davis of Division jump.

What is your role at Boo-Hooray and what does Boo-Hooray specialize in?

I lead all day-to-day operations: cataloging rare books, ephemera and collections; organize catalogs, shortlists and exhibitions; work closely with existing and new customers; manage shipping; billing; and manage sales from our online store and other platforms. Boo-Hooray is dedicated to the cultural movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, specializing in ephemera, photography and book arts. We place the archives of artists and organizations in universities and museums, publish and sell rare books, photography, ephemera and art, and organize exhibitions worldwide.

Also tell us about your work with Fugitive Materials. When did you start Fugitive Materials? What are you specialized in?

Fugitive Materials is committed to preserving radical, lesser-known, and alternative histories and disrupting informational privilege through publishing, book sales, and archiving. We specialize in the material cultures of resistance: the detritus of radical social movements, labor histories, counterculture, pedagogy, urbanism, uprisings, and art — with a particular focus on opposition to the prison state and the intersections of art and activism. We also focus on stories of anti-colonialism, protest and crime in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Fugitive Materials began in 2020 and we have been delighted to work with universities, museums and private clients around the world to help build collections of artifacts and ephemera documenting non-Western, alternative, radical and lesser histories. known.

What do you like about the book business?

Endless opportunities to learn and opportunities to share enthusiasm and knowledge with others.

Describe a typical day:

I usually check my email with coffee, then ideally put the digital away and read a bit before getting to work. Usually I spend my day cataloging or editing, preparing shortlists, catalogs or other upcoming publications, and corresponding directly with clients. I’m also working on rosters that are planned further into the future; this may include inventory scouting or nature research to create one of the thematic catalogs. Some days I get into the weeds by researching or writing about just one or two articles or collections – this in-depth study, while perhaps not the most economical use of my time, is one of great joys of my work.

Favorite rare book (or ephemera) you’ve handled?

It’s hard to choose a favorite, as I have handled so many rare and beautiful ephemera, photography and art, as well as unique artist’s books, manuscripts and drafts of immense cultural significance.

What I have left at this time are the papers of an Attica corrections officer, including documents released just months after the uprising, which include attacks on Correctional Commissioner George Oswald and a contract stating that agents would rather die than be used as a negotiation. tokens in case of a new riot. It is truly an extraordinary insight into the internal propaganda circulating among these violent holders of state power at a particularly threatening time for them.

What do you personally collect?

I see myself as a conduit – a step on the way before the materials find their place. That being said, there are some elements that I hold onto longer: I am deeply interested in exploring the organized and militant left, and other activists of industrial and post-industrial cultures, and frequently study their stories looking for lessons for today. I am also constantly building collections that will eventually find their last refuge elsewhere.

What do you like to do outside of work?

In my spare time these days, I mainly read and spend time with my friends and family. I always ride my bike and I like to go to the cinema, museums and art galleries. I also did advocacy and political organizing work in New York; the time may be hard to come by right now, but I hope to accelerate this pullback in the future, given the urgency of the current struggles.

Any thoughts on the current state of the rare book trade?

I am driven by curators and librarians (and booksellers) pushing the boundaries of institutional collections – as well as the growing base of private collectors interested in documenting and preserving the lesser-known microhistories of alternative and non-Western cultures. The growing collections of queer, black, brown and indigenous stories give me hope for the future.

Upcoming shows or catalogs?


Over the past few weeks, Fugitive Materials has released three zines — Chinatown needs housing, not a jail on the 1982 protests against the expansion of the New York prison under Mayor Ed Koch; Work is hell… Let’s go to war!reproducing Situationist-inspired anti-Gulf War posters, and The 1949 CCNY student strikecollecting documents and reports on this early, significant, and underdocumented student strike at the City College of New York.

Fugitive Materials will also release two books this fall, including War Notesa limited-edition photobook collecting the portraits and stories of the Ukrainian people during this year’s Russian invasion, captured by the Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist Cheney Orr (my brother). We are also releasing a new catalog this fall, collecting books, periodicals, artwork and ephemera related to prison uprisings and anti-prison protests.

At Boo-Hooray, we are working on several projects: a catalog of rare jazz artifacts including flyers, posters and print proofs by Sun Ra and others; a Fluxus and Yoko Ono catalog; a catalog exploring what is and isn’t an artist’s book, and many more that I can’t mention yet.