Many years ago, when I was a college student, I went on a cross-country journey with my boyfriend. Driving for days was a rite of passage, and we passed the time challenging each other with word games and trivia questions. Our favorite distraction was playing the license plate game, a game that, with the proliferation of vanity plates in the U.S., may no longer exist in its purest form: Be the first to spot a license plate from a new state and win bragging rights for at least 30 miles.
I was the first to spot the New Mexico plate, which has enchanted me ever since.
New Mexico is proud of its license plates. The Zia sun symbol is the world’s oldest continuous promotional graphic used on a license plate, appearing every year since 1927. In fact, the turquoise New Mexico centennial plate was voted the best plate in the nation in 2010, winning the prestigious award from the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association.
You will see many New Mexico license plate designs on the road to Winter Institute 2019 (Wi14), and can see them all now on this page from the New Mexico DMV. Like New Mexico itself, the variety is visually striking and culturally significant. I can’t think of another state whose identity is so entwined with its aesthetic. It’s a thrill for ABA, therefore, that booksellers from around the country — and world — will gather at Wi14 in this enchanting place for days of learning; camaraderie and new connections; and, we hope, immersion in the surrounding landscape.