I’ve finally returned home from the Santa Monica Book Fair, and now I am in the throes of preparing for this weekend’s Central Valley Antiquarian Book Fair, held in Sacramento, CA. It’s busy around here, but I just love book fairs, and I am usually full of energy (until the day the fair ends; then I return home and collapse in exhaustion). If you plan on going to the Central Valley Book Fair, leave a comment for me below and I’ll leave a free pass at the door with your name on it. Hope to see you there!
The Santa Monica fair was fun, made so not so much by enormous sales of books as by hanging out with my fellow booksellers and meeting a couple of readers of this blog in person (hi Jill and Diane!). There were sales, to be sure, but (for me, anyway) they were mostly for inexpensive books. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as I can sell inexpensive books in volume, but I have to say I was surprised. It’s often at book fairs, where customers can examine expensive items in person, that I’ve had success selling books that are priced at $100 or more. At this fair, I sold many books in the $25 to $50 range and a few in the $100 range.
Last year at the Santa Monica fair, I sold an item in the four digit range, and though perhaps I shouldn’t have expected to repeat that success, I’d be lying if I said I not only hoped to repeat that success, I hoped to surpass it. Purchases at the fair this year could just reflect the current poor state of the economy (many people and libraries don’t have extra cash to spend on antiquarian books), or it could be that I brought a different mix of books this year than last. One thing I’ve learned with certainty after doing seven book fairs is that it’s difficult to predict exactly how good (or how bad) a book fair will be. Each fair has a personality of its own, and in my opinion, they are as much about advertising one’s business, developing relationships with customers and with other booksellers, and looking for new inventory as they are about sales. That said, it hurts when sales are low.
Here’s a look at my shelves at the end of set-up:
Tomorrow: What sold and what didn’t sell.
See you in the stacks!