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report from the front – Tijuana Bookfair

The last of three postings of photos of the Tijuana bookfair went up to the Tijuana Bible blog this morning.

Yesterday was the last day of the fair. There were more new books and fewer used books than in the few past years I have attended and attendence seemed a bit off. Overall tourism is down by 30% this year in Tijuana and it appeared to hurt the book fair.

The drop in tourism is ascribed here to alarmist announcements by the US State Department about the dangers of travel to Mexico. Nonetheless undesirable elements from the United States continue to come. Donald Trump is building a 400 unit condo with accompanying shopping and entertainment features in Playas de Tijuana just a few kilometers south of us.

The fair was fun though. As always (as you can see from the photos) lots of children were in attendence. Our ecology group from Playas, Las Gaviotas, had a small booth for 2 days. I picked up a couple of nice pieces on Baja history and 6 books on bullfighting, two of which had very beautiful calf bindings over their intact wrappers.

The fair is for two weeks around the end of May each year. Hope to see you here next year. Two more years and I can exhibit!

report from the front – Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair

While on vacation in Michigan earlier this month, I had a chance to drop in on the Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair (May 6). Held in the ballroom of the Michigan Union building on the UM campus, it featured about 40 dealers. Prices were very good, with many books under $50 (even a rack at $3.95), mixed with the usual thousand-dollar gems.

Ephemera was much in evidence, including maps, prints, and pamphlets. Americana and regional works and children’s books also were abundant, but hypermodern fiction was hard to find. Of the booths I was able to visit, three that stood out (either for interesting books or sheer friendliness), were Volume I Books (nice to meet you Aimee), Magina Books, and Booklegger’s Used Books.

While most booths were a pleasure to go through, a few annoyances did crop up, such as the dealer selling first editions in unmarked facsimile jackets. Sure, there was a card in the book noting the DJ was a facsimile, but will it be there the next time the book is sold?
Deceptive practices also drive me crazy – is it really customer friendly to sell a book as a first printing, only to have the customer disappointedly find out later it’s in a second state DJ? (This was not a case of oversight, the dealer said she knew it was a second state when I pointed it out, but still had no interest in adding that to the writeup.)

On the plus side, the fair featured some engaging specialty booths. It was a pleasure to talk with Jon Buller, of Bessenberg Bindery, who said he is one of Michigan’s last custom binders, and who showed off some gorgeous one-of-a-kind bindings, most in tooled leather with silver and gold insets, as he is currently experimenting with metalworking. Andrew Halldorson of Sleepy Hollow Bookshop, who specializes in DJ/paper restoration, brought illustrations and examples of “before” and “after” jacket restorations, while First Folio Rare Books offered an excellent display of fore-edge paintings. These type of specialists and displays certainly broaden the appeal of book fairs – my guests for the day (okay, my parents), novice fairgoers, really enjoyed learning about these more esoteric aspects of the trade.

After the show, we headed over to Hollander’s, the decorative paper specialists, as I had to see the paper for myself. Wow! A salesperson told us they had over 1,000 different papers, and the stunning, many colored & textured display was quite convincing. Would paper collecting be too strange a hobby?

-Rebekah Bartlett
Coelacanth Books

Boston MARIAB Book fair – report from the front

Marvin Getman may be on to something. He was the ringmaster of this ‘Boston Antiques Weekend’ where a Book fair, Antiques show and Vintage textile show run concurrently in the same venue: the Bayside Expo airplane hangar . . . scuse me – Center. I am not sure the 1st year for an event is the best way to judge it from the vendor standpoint. The Bayside is hell and gone down in Dorchester – which will take folks some time to get used to – but if you have ever seen the screaming hordes who attend the Boston Flower Show (held last week) you might be inspired to stick it out. Making it an ‘EVENT’ instead of 3 ‘events’ has gotta help pull customers out of their winter doldrums. I was in line behind some nice folks in from San Diego who commented that it was chilly. This is laughable, it’s not ‘chilly’ in New England unless your breath freezes mid sentence and crashes to the ground.

Event triptych

I did take a walk through the rest of the joint. And it was filled with untouchable pretty prettys. To give you an idea of the tenor – I peeked into a booth where a large Victorian box covered with seashells caught my eye. The occupants were standing outside the booth looking in, so I said “I once made a box like that for my Mom, but I used macaroni.” Well you would have thought I had just shat on their carpet. I dunno about those folks but I thought it was a damn clever joke for end of the day.

Bookfair backsides – my god we are a hefty people

I made my obligatory glad handing with the 7 or 8 dealers I knew there. Luckily no one to whom I owed money. Then tried to chat up a couple new ones – not fooling myself, I can see the gears turning behind their eyes “who IS this peculiar person?”

Johnnycake Books, Salisbury, CT.
I was oh so tempted to go a little wild with the cookbooks. These were lovely.
Best condition I have ever seen in vintage cookbooks

I did manage to keep my purchases down to only cash on hand. I didn’t even take the chance of pissing money away on frivolous things like food. I brought a couple of cheese and pickle sandwiches to eat in the car. (borrowed of course, the car not the sandwiches – Mama still needs a head gasket) The Bayside makes its SERIOUS money on food and parking – $12 bucks to get into the parking lot and $50 to get out . . . . it IS Dorchester after all.

John Brooks Dodge Collections, Bedford, MA.
Nearly every book fair is 50% ephemera these days, the stuff sells better IRL than on the net I am sure.
These Valentine’s cards are gorgeous

Bookworm & Silverfish, Wytheville, VA.
Quite a number of vendors from out of town.
Here Patrick is showing off some spectacular full color US War Dept posters

Paper Art, Newburyport.
You KNEW I had to look inside this flip file.
That’s where I found my Muerto. He looked so lonely. These guys weren’t taking any chances.
they were handing out packing tape, post it notes, shopping bags, hair pins, sexual favors – very slick, very hungry.

Griffon’s Medieval Manuscripts, St Pete, Florida.
Nice folks with some very pretty stuff under glass.

From the customer point of view I thought it was a damn nice fair, and I hope it grows like Topsy. I’d like to hear that it was monetarily successful. Ian @ Lux Mentis has already started posting his impressions and Don Lindgren is 7 ways of giddy about the impeding birth of his new Rabelais Bookshop due to land in Portland, ME sometime in April.

report from the front – Ed @ St Pete

St. Petersburg Book Fair, a Report.

I got an email asking ‘which’ St. Petersburg? The emailer said the difference is only 80 degrees! Florida, of course. Since I moved east I was lucky enough to be able to set up at this book fair Sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association. March 9-11. I had heard this phrase over and over: “It is well run…..It is well run,” etc. And, I found out first hand.

This was the 26th year for this fair, and the 16th year it has been run by Larry Kellogg. How well run was it? Larry came around, with his clipboard, inquiring if each booksellers’ sign needed improvement! Larry does all the little things like special Cuban sandwiches (take out that was ordered and brought in), what time and when and where and how, there was no such thing as a ‘problem,’ he is a ball of energy, focused, businesslike, friendly, and this is what he does: “GET-R-DONE.” No if’s ands or buts. Even the $10 opening day tickets (good for the run of the show) were available at TICKETMASTER. His steady hand allows all the booksellers to relax.

Dennis Melhouse (First Folio) told me that this fair is the “Spring Break for Booksellers.” And Larry (Booklegger’s, Chicago) brought his bicycle in his van and each morning and evening he would ride it for hours. In fact, as I waited to enter the building for setup on Friday, Larry rode by on his bike, at 7am, with 6 books gleaned from early yard sales.

Listen, this fair is laid back. Weather was 80 and sunny the whole weekend (but the air-conditioned hall was exact). Only odd sight I could see was the pasty white legs of some northern booksellers who were wearing shorts! The fair had approx 117 booksellers, and the venue, The Coliseum, an older stucco building, was made for a book fair, complete with concession stand selling drinks and corndogs and candy, a sound system, a foyer for the free table, a ticket booth, rest rooms, and plenty of loading ramps all around, etc.

Setup was 7am on Friday, opening at 5:30-9:30, Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 10-4 (nice). Porters were on hand to help, and, there was no frenzy or anxiety, which was refreshing.

I was in booth #39, the second booth on the right from the entrance. Across the aisle from me was Royal Books (Baltimore) and Undercover Books (Marshall, VA). It was my pleasure to have this location. Kevin Johnson, Royal Books, and fellow ABAA member was a joy to swap stories with. And, now that James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is gone, Kevin could be considered for ‘The Hardest Working Man in Show Business!” And Rick Stoutamyer, Undercover Books, was the epitome of the polite, cool, calm and collected southern gentleman bookseller who ran his booth with ease and made it look easy, a kind word for everyone, smarts about books, and the manners that only a true southerner has. I hope some of their elan rubbed off on me.

The crowd was good all three days and, for the most part, all the dealers were happy. Maybe more than happy. Mike Slicker (Lighthouse Books) had a great item in his front glass case; a shotgun, a two page letter about said shotgun from Pat Conroy, and a love story! Larger alcoves ran down each side of the venue that added a ‘bookstore quality’ to the fair. I found some things to buy, and, judging from my invoices, many of the dealers purchased much more than normal.

I spotted Peter Stern (Boston) driving a huge Mercedes truck (borrowed from another booksellers), I saw Natalie Bauman on the hunt for those great items, I saw Tom C (Between the Covers) holding forth, and, I saw the great bookman Wally Gebhard, in the flesh, as well as Thomas Dorn, and, as I was coming around a corner and into an alcove during setup, I got stopped in my tracks when I came face-to-face with Hunter S. Thompson, or…so I thought. It turned out to be Chan Gordon (Captain’s Bookshelf), or so he claimed. It sure looked like Hunter though.

So in March, 2008 plan on coming down to St. Petersburg and doing the “Spring Break for Booksellers.”

– Ed.
Ed Smith Books, ABAA

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

"No man but a blockhead ever blogged, except for money"

apologies to Dr. Johnson.

A topic recently popped its head up on the Bibliphilegroupand then promptly disappeared before I could tackle it to the ground and beat the hell out of it. So, I figured since I have been skating along on other people’s work for so very long – I’d try to do some before guilt drives me back to doing what I am getting paid to do.

How do blogs help used booksellers make money? Blogs certainly don’t make money in and of themselves regardless of how many Adsense ads you plaster all over it. (trust me – THIS I know. ) Blogs like a lot of Web 2.0 projects (myspace, flickr, youtube) are attention getting vehicles. Which is convenient since Generation 2.0 are a bunch of narcissistic little scruffs who do little more than work to get attention. Drawing a crowd is the same on the net as it is in the brick and mortar world: entertainment – show them something different they can’t see anywhere else – and THEN sell it to them.

When I first started flogging blogging to used booksellers, I likened a blog to a front window, and I still do. Use it as a adjunct to your ‘bookselling’ webpage, something that changes frequently, where your customers can take a peek to see if you had anything new that would draw them further in. Build a rapport with your customers, develop a REGULAR client base, something that is desperately needed on the net. Separate yourselves from the crowd, get and HOLD their attention.

A couple of ready examples of the ‘front window’ method of blogging are Joslin Hall’s Foggy Gates & BookRide. Pay them a visit. You will see they don’t just present the books as you would see listed in a bookseller’s database. They dress it up and make it dance. Each book listing has its vital statistics and images as well as leisurely essay telling you WHY you should buy this book. Just as you would find in the High End Booksellers Catalogs. And blogs are a hell of a lot cheaper than printing a slick catalog.
I have had a couple of items sitting on my desk that can confirm that this is a tried and true method. Goodspeed’s monthly publication ‘The Month at Goodspeeds’ which ran for at least 40 years (i don’t have the exact figures in my head today sorry) and Eastman Kodak’s Kodakery monthly publication which also lasted many decades. The more I look at them, the more they look like BLOGS to me.

They both were regularly published for the benefit of their customers and contain informative essays that can be enjoyed EVEN if the customer isn’t interested in buying anything. AND they both have advertisements in the back 8)

Granted Kodak had pretty much a captive audience, but the articles are more or less universal. It was a form of BLOGGING. Maintaining regular informal contact with their customers.

So, kiddies, that’s my advice, stop naval gazing and reporting other people’s news as news – and start using your blogs to flog yourself.

btw: i have about a dozen Month at Goodspeeds on my desk from the early 60s – I don’t need them all – so first come first serve at $5 each post paid.

report from the front – Boston Book, Print and Ephemera Show

What do you know? I got out of the house today – I grabbed my coat and camera and ran for the door. I figured I had time for one show so I hit the ‘garage’ show. So-called since it had begun in an actual hotel garage across the street from the ‘big’ ABAA show. We book dealers are a tough people.

I’d say this show was half books and half other media and totally interesting. Browsing these shows has gotten more and more difficult. People are bringing there very bestest stuff and a lot of it. The show was set up in a series of rooms with lots of nooks and crannies for sellers to set up in. This could be seen as a drawback, but I think it makes for an intimate shopping environment.

It was very busy from the git go at 9 until after noon when the ABAA show down the block opened up. Then it thinned out comfortably. David Kenney from Conservation Gallery (Yarmouth, ME) takes advantage of the downtime to explain prints to potential future customers.
Page Books (Hillsboro, OH) uses these acrylic ‘cake cover’ covers as an elegant solution to displaying delicate items yet still allowing them to be accessible.

There’s always an item, I wish I could not only afford to buy, but afford to KEEP. Booksellers are infamous, everything we collect for ourselves is ALWAYS for sale at the right price. This time it was this program from the First World Science Fiction Convention in 1939 in NYC. Signed by the con organizers and Ray Bradbury. Who in 1939 was a 19 year old newspaper vendor still writing sci fi stories for fanzines. Alas Eric Davidson Bookseller (Medford, NJ) would not take an IOU payable in the year 2030.

I bought a Felicia Lamport book of poetry from Blue Ridge Books (Orlean, VA), an anthology of Raymond Chandler’s letters from Vanishing Books (Cambridge, MA), and a pile of old Goodspeeds Catalogs from Joe Skokowski from Albatross Books (Boston, MA) . . . more on them later.

Hey, you think if I mention everyone who sells me stuff, I will start getting free stuff? nah . . . I don’t think so either 8)

Here’s a bit of paper ephemera you don’t see everyday – a folding paper lamp brought by Resser-Thorner Antiques (Manchester, NH).

I made the rounds, talked to the few folks I even vaguely knew, and they politely pretended I was important. I chatted up some nice new folks hoping to drum up some more readers . . . remind me to get cards printed up for the bullpen . . . I bought me some cool stuff, ate food I didn’t have to make in a sit down restaurant like a grownup. From what I heard, the show was pleasantly profitable. So a good time was had by all.

The whole day I kept thinking I’d come home to a burned (burnt?) out shell, instead she had called all the hospitals looking for me .

report from the front – Decatur Book Festival '06

September 3 – Atlanta. The Decatur Book Festival sponsored by, among others, “the Atlanta Constitution” (newspaper). This fair has been in decline in recent years, like most all fairs, but this year the powerhouse “Constitution” has taken over sponsorship. Expecting 100,000 to show. Booths outside for book events, antiquarian fair inside in a ballroom, 100 “world-class authors” signing, etc.

I was just hoping for a sale or two from my meager holdings. This fair is the same weekend as the Baltimore book fair. Since I just moved south, to Florida, from Washington State, I thought I would try it. I purchased 6 folding bookcases, and the first thing I did was purchasing some strips of foam to put between them for the ride north to Atlanta. I did not want the shelves to sound like my bones, rattling around, for 360 miles (one way). That solved, I packed my vehicle with empty boxes, and the folding shelves, to see what load would be possible. Next, I set the fair up, in a hallway here in the house, and then packed backwards (from W). But first I pulled books forward on the library shelves, an inch or two, I planned on taking to Atlanta. I start this process early, so I have a week or two to constantly preview what I plan on bringing. I also plan on servicing my vehicle; to do everything I can to insure a safe, easy trip.

We rolled out near Jacksonville, Florida at 7am and arrived in Decatur, at the fair site, at 1pm. I parked in the hotel garage, checked in, and walked out into town. The town square was only a block away and it was a beauty, complete with an old civil war cannon and beautiful old buildings, with near life-size bronze figures on a bench, waiting. Then a rainstorm came and I had to purchase an umbrella to get back to the hotel (remember that Otis Redding song about rain in Georgia?) The next day was setup, and, frankly, it could not have been smoother. Jim McMeans was responsible for things running smoothly and they did.

The fair opened that Friday night at 6pm and ran until 9. All 42 dealers were ready, and we are all surprised by the turnout. They kept coming. The Festival had announced over 100 authors including Michael Connelly, Nick Basbanes, Robert Olen Butler, Diana Gabaldon, Edward P. Jones, just to name a very few. The crowds were steady and increased during Saturday and even Sunday (and even at closing time).

A wonderful setting, the Decatur Square, since it had the light rail coming into the square to beat that bad Atlanta traffic. You could jump on the train anyplace in Atlanta and step off the train in downtown Decatur in 11-13 minutes.

Did I sell any books? Yes, I did. I did more than double what I thought I might do. Amazing for a book fair in a new location, a bookfair that has been in a steady decline for 5 or 6 years. One customer purchased a nice Hemingway first edition as well as a fine copy of Thornton Wilder’s Bridge at San Luis Rey, another came away with a book signed by Ed Abbey and R. Crumb and a signed Neil Young. Yet another purchased an as new copy of Ernest Gaines’ Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and James Baldwin’s Amen Corner. A sharp eyed buyer snared a fine copy, in a fine dust jacket of the Rackham illustrated Sleeping Beauty (Heinemann, 1920), Several signed photo books found new homes, along with 14 other books. I even successfully pulled off a nice trade with another dealer involving 9 books, a good trade for both of us.

Did all dealers do well? It was hard to tell, but lots were happy. At fair’s end, I certainly signed up again for next year. The only squawk that was heard was some crying and whining, and we all looked around to see who the culprit was, and it turned out to be a baby in a stroller (being denied a nice Faulkner), instead of a bookseller! Sunday night I packed up and helped a fellow dealer pack up then strolled downtown for a repeat performance of a huge burrito I consumed the first night in town. Early Monday morning I rolled out of Decatur and headed home, happy as a clam.

I can understand why the state song is “Georgia On My Mind.” This fair at this location has a great future. All over Atlanta people are interested in books and they turned out, big time, at the Decatur Book Festival. As nice a crowd at a fair as I can remember. There were also long lines at all the signings, it was full up also at all of the interactive children’s activities, as well as the live music and poetry, along with cooking demonstrations, and, to top it all off, on Sunday night at dark, a huge fireworks extravaganza. Even a local bookstore, on Saturday night, offered dealers to stop by, for a 30% discount. The only downside, I could imagine, was I played a $5 mega millions ticket ($83 million) and did not win! After all, that would have been too much to ask….even for me. Next year I hope to see you all at the Decatur Book Festival.

report from the front • Don Lindgren

Don is letting the Bullpen reprint his newest Casa Malaprop post about last weekend’s Portland Maine Book Fair

anatomy of a struggling book fair, and some suggestions

Some people have asked for a report on the Portland Book Fair, so here goes… I can’t help but say that the fair seems to be on its last legs, with both dealer and customer attendance down, and none of the energy required to keep going in this difficult market.

I sold only a few dollars worth of books above the relatively inexpensive booth fee, so counting the cost of the books themselves and other expenses, I lost money. This is not an unusual occurence for me at book fairs, so my slow sales are not an indictment of the fair, but most other dealers said their sales were similar, with a few exceptions who said sales were ok.

Scouting wasn’t much fun either. I bought about a dozen books, mostly cookbooks or gardening books for myself and Samantha, and one architecture book for sale. There were lots of good books there at reasonable prices for reading, but the customers weren’t there. The room was pretty empty for much of the day.

Meeting new customers is always the third reason to do a book fair, and on this count, I fared better. Not only did I meet a few interesting people, but they contacted me after the fair. I take this as a good sign, and look forward to working with these folks. It will take a bit of business from these folks to make up for the two clutzes in my booth who each dropped a $700 book. Both books cracked a hinge or were otherwise slightly damaged, so I’ll send them to the “junk for eBay” pile. Neither nimble customer flinched when they dropped their book, and neither apologized. Whatever happened to “you break it, you buy it”? Next book fair, I’ll be putting up a “you break it, you eat it” sign.

Bitching about book fairs is a time honored activity for booksellers, and guessing the cause of a slow book fair has taken up millions of hours of our time. Good weather, bad weather, the stock market, competing television or sporting events, an illegal war, the increasingly illiterate US population… But why was this fair slow, especially in comparison to the pretty energetic Concord NH fair of just two weeks earlier? Even amongst the busy dealers and eager customers at that fair, word was that Portland is waning, lots of room was still available, and there is no energy.

This is surprising to me in that Portland as a city has really grown in the last few years. The population seems less provincial and a bit wealthier than in the past. I was interested to hear that the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) had just finished a week long annual meeting in Portland the day before the show. The arts in general are growing in profile in the region. So where were the customers?

I have no easy answer to this, but I’ll be back at the fair next year, and I’ll make some suggestions now about how to get Portland back on the book fair map.
1. the three sets of players with interest in the fair must all work, together or separately, to bring in more customers. The promoter, the Maine Antiquarian Bookseller Association, and the individual dealers need to actively get more dealers and more customers there.

2. local dealers not present should be encouraged to attend. Most of the larger maine open shops were note exhibiting. I’m sure they all have differing, valid reasons for not doing so, but they should personally be encouraged to attend. After all, where better to target potential customers for the fair than at the local shops in Portland, Camden, etc.

3. use the internet. The MABA has a tiny box in the corner of their website with no real info about the fair, and a link to the promoter’s website, which also has limited info, as it is really aimed at dealers. MABA should create a simple page which is aimed at the public, which explains the book fair in terms of what they might find there; books in all fields, reading copies and rare books, old things and new things. Have a picture or two. Individual dealers can link to the page and email it to their customers.

4. Dealers need to take things more into their own hands. Instead of complaining to the promoter, who is busy thinking about things like tables, labor, security, etc., so we don’t have to, dealers should look for ways to publicize the show themselves. Lots of newspapers up here will run anything they get in the form of a press release. Contacting your local paper with a press release is almost free of charge (maybe the MABA page I suggested could be in the form of a press release so dealers could just print it out and send it).

5. Reach out to like-minded organizations. There are organizations out there that may be inclined to help spread the word about a book fair. The Maine Publishers and Writers Alliance, local public libraries, the Maine Arts Commission,, etc. These organizations maintain online calendars, and it is not difficult to get listed. Many orgs also have email lists they might send to.

Well, this is just a beginning. I hope others might take this list and run with it.

report from the front – Forrest Proper

A muttering about ebay selling from a mad bookseller.

A few months ago I mentioned that we were going to be experimenting with selling some books that have been hanging around forever and are not in our specialties on Ebay. It’s been going pretty well- some have actually sold for more than I had them priced at in our catalogs, and almost all of them have at least recovered their cost, which was the point to begin with- to clear out dead stock.

We’ve come around to the belief that it’s best to start everything low, with no reserves, because reserves annoy people, and it seems to be better to get folks bidding than to try and start things at higher levels. The secret is to get people bidding, and a $9.99 starting price seems to do that. I had one book I started at $40, got no bids on, and then re-auctioned it starting at $9.99. The result was a bunch of bids, and a selling price of $40!

We’ve also been learning what type of material does well and what does not, which is important when you start things low with no reserves. So this week, in a further experiment, I actually bought some books at the local book auction with the intent of putting them up on Ebay. That is not at all the direction I saw this Ebay Project going in when we started- the point was to move stuff out, not bring stuff in, but hey, whatever sells books, right?

Besides, I’ve found that there is a certain drama and excitement to running the auctions- you watch the number of bidders and watchers grow as the week goes along, and then, with any luck, you have that final surge of bids at the end. It’s fun.

And because I know that you are all absolutely fascinated by my yammering on and on about our crap on Ebay, I’ve put a link on the right-hand nav. bar on our blog to our current auctions. I view that as a public service, because I know that you all need an 1850 print of a Zuni spring, or an 1837 book on beet sugar production in America, or the fashion print of the pretty young lady that started this entry.

Doesn’t everyone?

Forrest Proper @ Joslin Hall Fine Books

report from the front Charles Kroon

Printers Row Book Fair in Chicago

ABOUT THE SHOW: It’s usually held the first weekend in June and is run by the Chicago Tribune, a large newspaper. They publish a special section in their Sunday edition the week before, which reaches a million or so reader. Barnes & Noble also are supporters so they have a large triple tent where they sell books. It was funny watching them sell $20 paperback copies of the DiVinci Code while many of the used book dealers were selling hardbacks for $3 each. You can rent space in the large tents, about 40 of them or one of the numerous spaces in the open along the sidewalks. Each space in a tent consists of one side, two 8 ft tables. You can add shelves if you wish. A whole tent was $2200 and it was worth it. If you just
got one side I think it was
$700. Sidewalk tables were cheaper.

GETTING IN: I think the secret to getting in, especially if you’ve never done it, is to get your application in early. I sent mine express mail the day I received it and got the space I wanted. They say “first come, first served, with preference to previous exhibitors. As with any outdoor show, the weather plays a big part. This year it was perfect, in the low 70s both days with a gentle breeze. I’ve been there in rain and 100+ days and always made money, just not as much as this year.

WHAT SELLS? Everything sells. I came with 150 boxes and had about 30 at the end. This year we had two tables with $4 fiction ($3 for $10) and two tables of $4 non-fiction. Another two tables were books which were priced between $5 and $30. Most of the people buying were quite literate and for the most part bought better literary authors, better mystery and SF writers and lots of scholarly books. Junk doesn’t sell well. A few people had tables full of romance and self help books but seemed to do poorly. I must have sold thirty Phillip Roth books and every Hemingway, Steinbeck and Falconer I had. I sell mostly hardback but had some trade paperback this year, all priced the same. It seems many prefer the paperback versions. Most of the books came from my shelves, they were books that I had priced up to $30 a long time ago when I was selling on ABE. I still have enough for another two years so I pack them up during the year and am ready to go.

Charles Kroon – Ginkgo Leaf Books

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