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Report from the Front – Death of a bookman

With great sadness, I report the death of list member Stephen Dunker of What Goes ‘Round books in Bayfield, Wisconsin. For those who don’t know, Steve had surgery for brain cancer last summer. He was doing well, then began to experience increased difficulties a few months ago and recently went into Hospice care. He passed on Sunday last.

I worked with Steve on Tomfolio and on the Tomfolio Board of Directors over the years. He was ever the gentleperson – cooperative, kind, thoughtful, and funny. A good bookman who was passionate about his lifestyle and his craft. A good citizen of the Earth. We will all miss him desperately.

In case anyone should be inclined, friends have been ask to contribute to :
the “What Goes ‘Round Fund”
c/o Mark Ehlers,
22695 Elm,
Cornucopia, WI 54827
rather than send flowers.

Regretfully, Lee

Lee Kirk, The Prints and the Paper

report from the front – Seattle Book Fair Oct 13-14

Ian Khan @ Lux Mentis basically live blogged his trip to the Seattle Book Fair.

and Ed Smith has sent in this little stream of consciousness post for us to enjoy all the high points. (remind me to start sending out disposable cameras to these guys)

dateline: Seattle Book Fair – Seattle Center

Thursday morning: Having coffee, Oct 11. then I pack for the 20th annual Seattle Book Fair. My hometown fair makes things sweet. Louis Collins and Dave Gregor run a nice fair all right. On the official website for the fair an exhibitor can list FEATURED ITEMS. I sold two items from this list a week before the fair (7k).
We will drop off our load at the fair site late this afternoon, which makes Friday’s all-day setup simple.

Of course after Friday setup is the main event, the Book Club of Washington / Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair dinner held this year at a fancy Seattle Restaurant, McCormick & Smicks Harborside.

Anne Bromer (Bromer Books, Boston) will be he main speaker talking about her new book on miniature books, “Miniature Books; 4000 Years of Tiny Treasures”. This year the exhibitor space is full up and will make for a great one. Why already the Mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels proclaimed this week Book Collecting Week with four major events happening here in Seattle relating to the book; The Lewis Carroll Society of North America’s Fall meeting, the 25th Annual Conclave of the Miniature Book Society, the Fine Books & Collections magazine’s awards ceremony for the 2007 Collegiate Book Collecting Championship, and the 20th annual Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair & Book Arts Show.

After setup (where biz was big) we attended the dinner and heard Anne Bromer speak on miniature books, complete with slide show. And, I have to admit it was wonderful. Including the tale of the most elusive American miniature book, the 7-page Emancipation Proclamation. Anne had one in her booth, in mint condition. The nearly 100 dinner attendees were oohh’d and aahh’d by her presentation (Thanks Anne!).

Under clear skies the fair opened Saturday morning at 10am sharp and a huge line had formed. 98 booksellers were ready (41 were ABAA booksellers). About 1000 attended opening day, and this crowd had ‘energy to burn’ because we all felt the crowd was larger than normal. With this fair I decided I had been taking ‘too many books’ to fairs, and I scaled back, almost by half.

Even for a seasoned dealer like me, it is hard to see everything at a fair due to some sellers having 1000 books in their booths. Bringing less certainly worked for me in the end (and it sure was an easy pack up!). Sunday was also busy and the steady crowd also had energy.

And, like all fairs, there were stories to tell:
– a new-to the Seattle Fair bookseller from Chicago sold 25k,
– fair management nearly ran out of bags and sold stickers,
– the owner of Amazon was spotted among the fair-goers on Sunday
– a well-known young writer, with a new book out in the 5th printing already, was – working a major booth at the fair
– the signed limited Hemingway book was present at the fair (new copy in box!)
– a bookseller during setup took the first book out of his boxes ($6500) and gently laid it in his glass case and before his hand could exit said case the book sold
– the fair promoters were on hand, as always, handling any crisis and making it look easy
– glass breakage could be heard (they should design steel shelves for heavy tomes) but with no ‘ouwie’
– and, the most famous phrase of all bookseller phrases was heard throughout the fair, over and over- “……do you have any more of these…?”

Only fair problem I heard was Saturday at closing where restaurant reservations were hard to come by, oh…did I mention all the baseball talk during the fair?
I also want to mention all the fine, great people in Seattle who attended the fair this year, and all those from out of town who always attend fairs, searching (and finding) those treasures.

And finally, even though I had cut my fair stock to half, I was dreaming of arriving at a fair sometime in the future with my stock in my small briefcase, and laying out all those fine miniature books….Hemingway, Faulkner, Honest Abe, all those jeweled bindings shining…..now packup with that stock would be a breeze…

love
Ed
Ed Smith Books,
Bainbridge Island, WA

report from the front – concord nh book fair

OK, I meant to post this 2 days ago. . . but I kept getting dragged away. Monday to trap an injured cat out in a wooded area . . . if you want you can go ahead and picture me squatting in the shrubs with a 20 foot long string attached to drop trap, and providing food for starving mosquitoes. And Tuesday to rescue an entire residential neighborhood from a 6 month old kitten who was going door to door begging for food. Apparently these folks thought all the purring and sweet as pie demeanor was a disguise and that it would morph into a responsibility – WHAT IS IT WITH PEOPLE THESE DAYS? Nobody wants to get involved, they all think “oh someone ELSE will take care of it.” (I named her Dharma and she’s on the ARMV Blog that I also publish)

2007 NHABA Book Fair in Concord, NH

I did get up to the Concord Book fair, despite not setting up a table. And I made the rounds handing out the book repair supply price list and spent a goodly amount of time explaining to every third dealer ‘why I hadn’t set up a table’. I can’t justify the table rent unless a fair at least breaks even, and as we both know the last 3 didn’t even do that. Hopefully by this time next year I will be rolling in it enough that I can do all the fairs even at a loss and write them off as advertising expenses.…yeah i know in my dreams, yeah.


My friends at Gilann Books, from CT had this collection of daguerreotypes which I found fascinating as all get out. These were the size that people carried in their breast pocket to remind them of a loved one – kinda sad – nameless folks now reduced to photo novelties.

Orville Haberman from Connecticut River Books was one of the few folks I bought books from…no it wasn’t for me, it was for someone else, I don’t buy books for myself anymore…at least not with money. According to all the sellers I spoke to, a good fair was had by all. of course I miss out on the profitable one.

I had a long jaw with Nick Basbanes, another person I have met from time to time, but can’t remember me from Adam. that’s fine, sometimes I get remembered for all the wrong things and I like making a new impression all over again. 8)

Nick says he was playing bookseller, flogging a shelf or two of books that were not written by himself. – but that’s the essence of bookselling, selling the books you don’t collect want to pay for ones you do.

The people from the New Hampshire Center for the Book had a table set promoting the National Endowment for the art’s Big Read program sort of a ‘one book one state’ featuring Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Giving out reader’s guides, CD’s filled with commentary and pencils (but i’m an eraser gal) the only thing they weren’t loading you up with is the book itself. Nice folks.

report from the front – Atlanta Book Festival


The second annual Atlanta Constitution Decatur Book Festival, presented by Dekalb Medical, was held on August 31 through September 2, 2007. As part of the Festival, the 16th Annual 2007 Atlanta Antiquarian Book Fair sponsored by the Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association was held.

Last year, the first year of the festival, 50,000 booklovers showed up to see 125 authors. This year, the crowd was larger, and 250 authors including a National Book Award winner, four Pulitzer Prize winners, a Caldecott winner, and Emmy winner, Two Country Music Association award winners, three James Beard Foundation Award winners and many other honored writers, showed up, including Robert Olen Butler, Charles Frazier, Kinky Friedman, among others.

The Decatur City Square was blocked off all weekend and tents were set up, that included a children’s parade, poetry slams, several bands, cooking demonstrations, food, beer and wine, and much more, all in celebration of the book. The Antiquarian fair featured 50 booksellers was held at the Conference Center, and opened Friday night and ran through Sunday night.

The three booksellers most responsible for running this years antiquarian fair were Jim McMeans, Ken Mallory, and Frank Walsh. 150 paid opening night, with three times that many got in using free passes. Saturday and Sunday were very well attended as well. The executive director of the festival, Daren Wang stopped by the antiquarian fair during setup and talked about how to make the festival even better next year.

I have not met nicer folks than those in Decatur and Atlanta. Across the aisle from my booth was Mike (Map Man) Slicker, Lighthouse Books (St. Petersburg, FL). I spent most of the fair being Mike’s “bag man”…..every time I looked over he was writing yet another invoice. It was also nice seeing all the booksellers representing Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Washington DC, Michigan, South Carolina, Chicago, and even a stray from Bainbridge Island, WA (yours truly).

It was a pleasure seeing more young people attend this festival, much more than normal. The young far outnumbering the old, with all sharing great enthusiasm for the book. The Holiday Inn, which hosted the Antiquarian fair, has 184 rooms and the fair blocked out 124, but the hotel was sold out and 75-100 others were sent to other hotels nearby.

Many nice restaurants all around the festival made for satisfaction, and, what with all the authors, all the wonderful folks in the area, all the booksellers, and the good weather, it was a very positive experience, and this festival can only improve in the years to come.

The Atlanta/Decatur area boasts some fine institutions of higher education as well, that added to the book fever, like Emory University, Agnes Scott College, Georgia State University, Morris Brown College, Morehouse College, Sanford-Brown Institute, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Lanier Technical College, Chattahoochee Tech, Kennesaw State University, and scores of others. Next year book early, and be sure to visit this website: www.decaturbooksfestival.com

Ed Smith
Ed Smith Books
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110


photography by Earl Johnson, Lotus Publications

Report from the Front – Carol in Colorado

Carol Brussel from Laura Nevada’s Library is liveblogging from the 29th Annual Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.

8.12.07 –

The seminar is truly over, and all us little chickens have flown away home.* It included a rather astounding diversity of participants. Booksellers, true – new and old. Collectors thinking of becoming booksellers. People running businesses related to the book trade but not actually selling books, for instance, usedbooks101.com. How did I miss this terrific website before? After hearing Michael Ginsberg talk about how many bookstores are not on the internet, and encouraging sellers to scout out other stores, I realized how imprortant this resource could be.

And the FO the FOL. Despite the criticism most sellers can muster about library sales, the numbers of library people that showed up must indicate that their industry is changing. It seems to me that on the one hand, they will be more competitive, listing their own books online instead of having library sales that provide fodder for the rest of us. However, as the esteemed head of school said, there are books everywhere. Perhaps if the FOL people are better educated they can help improve the quality of online bookselling. Then we can all collectively stand and point our fingers at the megalisters. Or, the new term that came up, the scrapers.

And then there were the bookpeople as objects, the Improving the Universe through Profit While Deceiving Your Donors people. I myself, despite what some of you think of me, felt it beneath my dignity to personally upbraid and castigate these decorative youmg dudes. As I say ad nauseam to those within hearing, if I want to run a warehouse operation with employees, I’ll find something easier to pack and ship than books. Widgets, perhaps. They are the wave of the future. Not books. Back to that pesky quote about analog becoming digital becoming free. I’m still chewing on that one and holding up various books against walls, evaluating their potential as objects of beaute.

The faculty at the seminar provide an extraordinary experience that several people commented on, that is, world class booksellers spending a week with newbies as their peers, treating each of us (well, who knows how they treated the Improving the Universe people) with a genuine and sincere interest and completely abandoning any hint of snobbery. This willingness really did make us feel that the arcane degrees of mystery are available to all.

Here’s the bottom line, people. If you are completely and totally happy with your book business, every aspect of it – well, don’t bother to go. If you have the slightest hint of dissatisfaction with what you sell, how you sell it, and the money you make selling it, then hie thee to the nunnery, oops, no, Colorado College. You will not regret going to the seminar, although you might regret the coffee. I went with several objectives. First, I had to see if there is enough unrealized potential in the book business for me to succeed, because, believe me, trying to undercut Joycey in the eraser business is probably not a wise thing, what with her sewing up the voodoo dolls if you get outta line.

Secondly, once you got the book business virus, you got it, and there doesn’t seem to be a cure, so it behooves me to improve what I do. It is clear to me that I don’t want a warehouse and a software program that handles hundreds of thousands of books. Not that that is a bad thing, its just not for me. I have to say, except for the few rare moments when the coffee ran low (and how I missed Kaladi’s, my home coffee shop), I felt deliriously happy about the new worlds opening up. So many new things to know, and so little time.

Every session had some new bit of information, if not boatloads. That is to say, even subjects where I am fairly well-informed were presented in a way that had some new things for me to learn (thanks, Chris!) And what am I saying? Not many of the sessions were covering areas in which I could say I am extremely knowledgeable. That’s the beauty of the seminar. It is true that this is the one place in which one can learn to be a bookseller. It’s more than worth the cost of going. And, except for the few brief moments when I listened to the accountant, and felt the only possible solution to the problems posed by his information was to go home and burn all the books, now, TODAY – its something you absolutely must do if you have even the slightest need.

And its spelled Glaser – Ed Glaser, Ed Glaser, Ed Glaser – (now I’m hearing strains of “Ed Sullivan, Ed Sullivan, we’re gonna be on Ed Sullivan”) running through my head. Mea culpa, mea culpa – I can only plead exhaustion for making such a grievous error as mispelling the name of someone so terrific. What, Mrs. Wordperson make a spelling error? It offends the gods!

*Note – chickens are incapable of sustained flight.

– Carol

Report from the Front – Carol in Colorado

Carol Brussel from Laura Nevada’s Library is liveblogging from the 29th Annual Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.

8.9.07 –

i confess i started the latest range war. yes, the book seminar today was chock full of great presentations and fabulously helpful information, particularly for the internet-selling-impaired. we began by hearing from kevin johnson, who gave up a career with the CIA but not the period eyeglasses, in order to become a fabulously successful bookseller, one who makes ten million per year. this is to give us hope about our future in the biz. all you have to be able to do is buy thousands of fabulous books, cozy up to famous booksellers and buy their spare buildings at a low cost, and then sell them books out of it. this is probably all made possible by advanced surveillance skills.

fast forward to the afternoon, from whence cometh the feud between the jets and the sharks. we all know the cattlemen hate the sheep men, and vice versa. during the open forum, someone mentioned problems with FOL sales. it turns out the crowd is heavily salted with FOL officials. i did know this, having cornered the president of the national FOL organization (“Friend of Friend of Libraries”) immediately upon her arrival at the seminar, possibly before she was even registered, when I shared with her a piece of my mind that i could not spare. specifically, i mentioned my unhappiness with book listings that say, in their entirety, “Your purchase benefits the blah blah city library.” you’ve seen ’em. no mention of an actual book, vulgar as that appears to be. or its condition or description or RFID number or something else useful. nope, just the argumentum ad misericordiam, give us money for our library.
an admirable request, surely, but. in the big wide world of bookselling, those of us who actually pick up a book and describe the book (“as object”) surely resent losing sales to – you know – them. she wisely promised to inform her constituency of this minor quibble. so this afternoon, when others began to mention difficulties with FOL sales, i arose from my pre-five-o-clock caffeine stupor (how can i be a real bookseller if i am longing for latte instead of scotch and soda?) and pointed out that FOL sales seem to resent the necessary presence of dealers, what with their uncouth buying of multiple numbers of books, and what not. the methods by which these dealers buy their books fills the FOL people with fury. “scanners,” they hiss. they have invented elaborate schemes by which these shameless dealers are reigned in.

they don’t seem to realize a few home truths. dealers are their best customers. dealers buy the most numbers of their books. little aunt tilly, who comes to the FOL sale just to find another copy of the methodist church cookbook, will not buy another fifty boxes of books. actually, the truth is more venal than related to protocol. FOL sales personnel resent the concept of selling a dealer a book at a low price, when that book is filled with potential profit. they wait by the door, little glass animals in hand, for the same people who check out the books for free to arrive and buy hundreds of them. “i have to ask you,” said an earnest FOL manager, “would you pay $25 for a book that is worth $50 at a FOL sale?”

of course, i said no. “but,” he persisted, “if it is worth fifty, surely you would?” i laughed my best scornful bookseller laugh and said “no.” i further explained that there would be very, very few books at a FOL sale that would be worth that sort of investment. perhaps only one. or only none. he persisted, offering up varieties of valuable dream books, such as “old ones, from the late 1800s for example.” ah, i sighed to myself. the canard of the valuable old book. the conversation went on in this vein for a while, until i left behind the visions of fifty dollar gems dancing in his head.

of course i love libraries. yes, ed glasner, they are indeed the incubators of future book buyers. perhaps even readers. but the evolution of FOL groups into professional bookseller clones merely points up the validity of all we are learning at the seminar. the need to specialize, the need to gain all the knowledge possible in your field – is that possible in a situation where 80% of the books are going straight to the dumpster? where the books are measured by the bale? and all this in the hands of volunteers?

i can’t continue to think about “all analog media wants to be digital, all digital media wants to be free” with the same brain that is contemplating little FOL groups in every hamlet across amerika busily erasing “mint” from their book descriptions and writing in “first edition, first printing, second state, fourth issue THUS.”
look for little postcards in your mailbox about books i am searching for, and send me back a postcard with a pencilled notation as soon as you have me a quote. meanwhile, i made nice with the deeply offended library lady who rendered teary-eyed by my bookseller brutality – i swear, i didn’t mean any of it!

-Carol

Report from the Front – Carol in Colorado

Carol Brussel from Laura Nevada’s Library is liveblogging from the 29th Annual Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.

8.8.07 –

you sell books. to sell these books you list these books. you innocently go from day to day, using your little database, blissfully unaware of all its pathetic limitations, its lack of knowledge of the book world. you craft your listings and send them on their way into the big, wicked world of the internet. you sell these books, list more, and consider yourself a book dealer.

you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

you have never listed a book correctly. you have no idea what bibliographic information is, and you wouldn’t recognize it if it were staring you in the face. you should immolate yourself on a pile of POD books if you hear that terry belanger is even in your time zone. you need to burn, yes burn i say, any computer that has even a nanobyte of your data. you need to take the measly few decent books you have, and burn the rest with your idea of your former sniveling bookselling self, and start again.

veterans of today’s book seminar session are here to inform you that a minimum of two weeks, ten hours per day, spent poring over reference books and writing cataloging information, is what you need to plan on. then you can perhaps list mass market paperbacks. even a few hardback books, if you are an apt student.

no, heck, you would screw it up and note a book club edition as a first edition, first printing, first state. and you would be horribly, eternally wrong. better to rise up from your computer now, and go forth into the world, and cast aside any ideas you have had of being a bookseller. try to use your powers for good. pull espresso for real booksellers. wash the floors in a real bookstore with your tears and your hair and try not to splash the books. go back to university and get ten degrees, learning all major european languages as well.

then write another damn book description.

Carol

Report from the front – Carol in Colorado

Our own Carol Brussel from Laura Nevada’s Library was lucky enough to get a scholarship to this year’s 29th Annual Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar A Seminar for Booksellers, Librarians, and Collectors in Colorado Springs and is liveblogging for us.


8.6.07 –

its only day two and already capitalization is dispensable. a full, intense day of class ended with a short break for a lively dinner with five other lady seminarians, and then back to it for a class on book anatomy and physiology. the day classes focused on writing painfully accurate book descriptions. after opinions provided from different teachers, all of whom have variations in how they catalogue books, students were allowed to handle beautiful books, and were told to write a description. oh woe, oh agony, students were grappling with books everywhere. luckily, instructors were available to help.

of course, before we got to write about the book, we had a fabulous lecture about the creation of books as physical objects. the odd pieces of paper we were given turned out to be facsimile pages of old books, and with an awful lot of assistance, we origamied them into signatures. if you don’t know what a signature is, get outta the book business. or, rather, go to the book seminar. terry belanger, of the rare book school in charlottesville, va, is a softspoken but astoundingly knowlegeable teacher of anything book related.

in the afternoon we returned to the subject of technology and bookselling, and were treated to some instruction on the how and why of producing images of books. you can’t call them pictures, anymore. nada. its a new world, baby, and you are imaging your book. and a very important thing, too, because if you differentiate which of your customers are interested in buying the book as an object, as opposed to those buying your book for use, well, you gotta KNOW you need an image.

huh? yeah, right – well, it just proves you gotta go to the book seminar. its not even necessary that you be a book seller. it seems every other person here is a FOL person or collector or theologian or – well, something other than a plain old book seller. more later. all the saluting has made me weary.

report from the front – Carol in Colorado

Our own Carol Brussel from Laura Nevada’s Library was lucky enough to get a scholarship to this year’s 29th Annual Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar A Seminar for Booksellers, Librarians, and Collectors in Colorado Springs and hopefully will be blogging us daily.

7.31.07 – first thoughts

The call came through when I was on the plains. I cut short my pow-wow with the Cherokees, and headed back to the rockies. Don’t know why they picked the Springs. I know of sweeter springs closer to my home grounds, but boot camp must mean not arguing with the sergeant. Book learnin’? I guess I have to admit to comin’ up a bit short in that department, and I’m willing to throw my rope their way for a week. Plus some book wimmen comin’ in from Looziana and other parts west need some help spotting the trail, so I’m on it. The more the merrier, I say. Besides, the book wagon is a thirsty one and I can use some help with filling her up.

Books! A couple of piles attached themselves to me here, so my saddle bags are sagging. If we need some books to look at while we’re there, I can help with that. Meanwhile, smoke is blowing towards the west. Time to ride. Gentleman Jim is off in some other parts entirely, so I’m on my own. And besides, if I get back in time, I can hob-nob with my fellow wizards at the Book Fair. I’m expecting bear baiting, magicians, hurdy-gurdy music, polkas by night, and special book beer. I better not be disappointed, but my flask is full just in case. I can pull my hat down, kick up my horse, and be there in no time.

– carol

8.5.07 – day one

The first order of business at the book seminar is to sync up computers to the college’s system. My computer and a number of others have failed to make the grade at this first assignment. Many would-be seminarians are suffering from internet withdrawal.

Time is short due to the nature of shared computer. The opening function featured Marty Manley, CEO of Alibris. He spoke of the future of bookselling, and made a formal announcement henceforth to be known as “Manley’s Law 2007” – I’ll leave you to ponder this – “All analog media wants to become digital. All digital media wants to become free.”

– carol

huh? it may have sounded profound at the time, but that ain’t t-shirt material Marty. ed.

report from the front – Chicago Printer's Row '07

in from Edwin “Win” Schaeffer:

Last weekend was held the 23rd annual Printers Row Book Fair in downtown Chicago. “Printers Row” is historically Chicago’s area in which big commercial printing businesses and paper wholesalers set up; they are long gone, replaced by condos, hotels, restaurants, and other higher-margin businesses.

This Fair, principally sponsored by the City of Chicago and CHICAGO TRIBUNE (which provides extensive coverage and advertising and prints a pullout guide in the paper the week prior), features 20-foot square tents set up for several blocks on Dearborn Street (from Congress to Polk), with more tents extending either way on Polk Street. Here is a layout of the Fair.

About 190 dealers, publishers, and book-related businesses rent 6-foot tables under these jaunty tents and and 8-foot sidewalk tables without cover.

Numerous other events are part of the Fair, including dozens of author readings and signings, a “kid’s alley,” musical performances including the ever-popular and obligatory Chicago-style electric blues, cooking demonstrations, etc. C-SPAN always films parts of the Fair and airs at least one show about it.

Simultaneously the Chicago Blues Festival was held a few blocks away, an enormous free event considered by many to be the best of its kind in the world. There were also diverse arts festivals and other such things going on throughout the city.

Official estimates are that there are 100,000 attendees at the Book Fair annually, which has always seemed high to me, but having looked up and down the street for two days, seeing hundreds of different people each time, I think it may be a decent guess (see my photo of the crowd).

The Fair has come a long way since its early days, and this is partially due to the sponsorship of the TRIBUNE and various other businesses such as Borders, Barnes & Noble, Ghirardelli, Jewel-Osco grocers, and Radio Disney. Naturally, this has led to grumbling in certain quarters that the original spirit of the Fair has been co-opted by big bloodsucking corporate interests, but there is no denying that it is becoming a bigger event as time goes on.

This was about the 11th time I have sold at the Fair and I think it was my best ever. I normally take material of quite moderate value, often thousands of $4 books, as I am always worried about pilferage, rain, and other damage, but you can find books and paper items for sale well into four-figures at the Fair. I have lots of repeat customers, many of them students. Vendors will find this a good place to get rid of mistakes, stuff that is too much trouble or too cheap to ship, and those pesky books that pile up as box-lot leavings. Or material in areas they have decided they don’t want to carry anymore.

This year I had scads of classics in literature, philosophy, drama, history, poetry, etc., as well as a slew of DK kids’ books bought in a closeout.

Anything and everything sells at Printers Row. Fiction/non-fiction, paperbacks, rare first editions, prints, arty matted magazine pages, postcards, posters, old newspapers, bookmarks, ephemera of every kind, VHS tapes, whatever. I met a fellow named Peter Nepstad who had a table selling his computer game mystery based on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and he seemed quite pleased with his results.

Fortunately for me, you don’t have to worry about whether you have an orderly display. I have sold stuff that I never in a thousand years would have counted on to go, especially to the specific people who bought it. One buyer I remember vividly was a guy who looked homeless, but he bought an old scholarly scientific book on the genetics of twins. I have had folks who looked like impoverished single moms or Hell’s Angels joyfully buy bags full of Shakespeare and Plato. All this in a happy book-party atmosphere, with restaurants serving cafe-style on the sidewalk, beer carts set up, and Edwardo’s pizza selling single slices of its marvelous deep-dish pizza for $3.

The weather was absolutely unsurpassed, which was the case last year as well; in previous years there has been some rain, but as the Fair is now held about a week later into the summer, this may have something to do with it.

I heard anecdotal evidence that one large dealer grossed $40,000; whether that is true or puffery I cannot say, but I certainly was flat-out busy for the full 8 hours a day selling like mad.

If you want to be considered for a table at next year’s event, email Maggie Wartik of the TRIBUNE to be put on the list. You will want to return the application either by FAX or overnight mail on the same day you receive it, as the Fair gets oversubscribed more and more each year. Please email me at if you have any questions.

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