Click here to read Part I.
About 10 minutes before the doors of the book fair opened to the public, I was at the back of the exhibit hall making a purchase from another bookseller. I was not wearing a watch and did not know what time it was. Over the P.A. system, fair organizer Jim Kay said, “The doors are now open and there’s nobody here. I tried my best to publicize the fair, and I hope somebody will show up soon.”
I am still enough of a rookie bookseller to take statements like this seriously. I quickly wrapped up my transaction and hurried back to my booth, which was at the front of the main room. Every time I had had the thought, “What if no one buys any of my books?” it had never occurred to me that there might be so few fair attendees that there would be no one to buy any books from anyone.
When I got back to the booth, I checked my cell phone and saw that the time was only 9:55 a.m., a full five minutes before the fair’s opening. The joke was definitely on me. 😉
As if in a dream, the doors opened at 10:00 a.m. to plenty of fairgoers. By my estimation there were about as many people as at last year’s fair and it seemed as if there were more people than had been at the Santa Monica Book Fair a few weeks ago. My shared booth with Carpe Diem Fine Books was filled with a few buyers and many interested browsers. I sold books of all kinds, including early children’s books about space, a Nuremberg Chronicle leaf, an illuminated manuscript leaf, and an 1852 letter from a California miner to his wife.
I also bought a few fun things. Another post to come on that later.
The fair passed quickly, and as I sold books to dealers and customers alike, I lost all sense of time. I talked to bibliophiles, book binders, and booksellers, including one who gave me very good advice about finally completing my Dante catalogue — take the time to get it right. Before I knew, it was 5:00 p.m. and time to break down the booth.
I love to prepare for book fairs and to set up my booth, but I really dislike dismantling the booth and packing boxes and bookcases for the ride home. Thanks to James from Carpe Diem Fine Books I had plenty of help actually moving the boxes from the exhibit hall to the bookmobile. I was tired by this time, but not too tired to eat a good dinner with some of my fellow booksellers again (though we missed you, Stephanie!). After dinner, I returned to my hotel and had some chocolate!
Now for the bad news: I can’t believe I did this, but I forgot to take my camera with me. My mentor, Mr. Z. sold books at the fair as well, and he took a photo with his cell phone and sent it to my cell phone. Technophobe that I am, I can’t figure out how to get the picture from my cell phone onto my computer. When I do figure it out, I’ll post it here!
To all who have sent an email in the past few days and not received a response, I am swamped with both book and family responsibilities at the moment. Traveling to book classes or book fairs three times in the past six weeks has taken its toll, and I desperately need to get caught up. Please accept my apologies if I don’t respond to your comments right away.