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… packup with that stock would be a breeze…

Ed Smith Books,
Bainbridge Island, WA

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