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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