Chapter 717 Views from the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair

The booth across the aisle from mine at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. The booths were this busy most of the day.

Last weekend I had the good fortune to exhibit and sell books at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. Of course, I also had the good fortune to socialize with my fellow booksellers and some repeat customers as well as to buy some books. This fair, held twice a year, in September and in March, was the very first fair for Book Hunter’s Holiday way back in 2007, and as such, it holds a special place in my heart as one of my favorite book fairs.

It’s a small, regional fair, with around 60 dealers. I like it because it’s not too far from home and, though sales are sometimes good and sometimes not as good, I almost always find good books to buy at reasonable prices. I was nervous this time around, because about a year-and-a-half ago, I had my worst sales ever at a book fair at the Sacramento fair. While that’s more a reflection on my bookselling skill than on the fair, I’ve been a little tentative about fairs since then. Still, I just can’t miss the opportunity to buy and sell books and to have dinner with my fellow booksellers so close to home and at such a reasonable price. And you can never truly predict when or why one fair will be good and another bad. When I average it out over the five years I’ve done this fair, Sacramento has more often than not been a profitable enterprise for me.
This time around, the promoter of the fair, Jim Kay of bookbomb.com sold out every exhibitor space and had a waiting list of exhibitors. This is in no small part due to his willingness to keep the fair affordable for dealers, to promote and advertise the fair heavily, and to his sense of humor. Every time I have done this fair, whether sales have been high or low, I know that Jim consistently gets lots of people through the door — last time I did this fair, it was over 600 people for 60 dealers.

The weather was beautiful, with hot Indian Summer temperatures and sunny skies. I packed in a hurry late Thursday night and hoped the fair would be a successful one. No matter whether my sales were good or bad, I knew that at the very least I’d have a great weekend with my fellow booksellers. There were over 60 booksellers, most from west of the Rocky Mountains, and they included me (Book Hunter’s Holiday), Mr. Z (Tavistock Books), Brad Johnson (The Book Shop), Taylor Bowie (John Michael Lang Fine Books), Stephanie Howlett-West (S. Howlett-West Books), Jim Graham (James Graham, Bookseller), John Howell (John Howell for Books), Ken Sanders (Ken Sanders Rare Books). A few other booksellers also came up to assist, most notably Zhenya Dzhavgova (Z-H Books) and Greg Krisilas (Coconut Rose Rare Books and Autographs). A couple more Bay Area booksellers were also seen at the fair, examining (and sometimes buying) the books of their colleagues, including John Windle (John Windle Antiquarian Books) and Bob Haines (Argonaut Book Shop). I was sorry that I didn’t get to leave for the fair earlier, which would have also given me time to shop the lovely book shop of Sacramento bookseller, Barry Cassidy (Barry Cassidy Rare Books). Next time!

As far as the Sacramento fair goes, this one was good for me in all ways — selling books, buying books, and fraternizing with my bibliophilic buddies. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Rather than take pictures of my own booth, which I’ve done many, many times before, I thought I’d share photos of some of my colleagues and their booths:

Brad Johnson of The Book Shop created a welcoming atmosphere in his booth.

Zhenya Dzhavgova graces the booth of John Howell for Books.

Jim Graham shows Greg Krisilas a good book.

From right to left: Stephanie Howlett-West, me, and Stephanie’s assistant for the fair, Kim (Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, 2012).

Brad Johnson and Ken Sanders celebrate the end of another Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair.

Post-fair celebratory bookseller dinner with what one bookseller called a “rogue’s gallery”.

See you in the stacks!

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