Back in the days when I was teaching high school students to write, I would always admonish them to “know your audience.” This meant that the language, style, and tone of one’s writing should take into account the intended audience of the piece. That advice is also applicable to book fairs. If you’ve been to a particular book fair more than once, you begin to get a feel for the type of books that sell best there.
I spent most of Wednesday preparing for this Sunday’s Golden Gate Park Book Fair. As with all book fairs, I am excited and nervous at the same time. While the organizer of the fair has held many vintage paper and ephemera fairs in the same venue, this is the first time a book fair will be held there. Admission is free, which means that in addition to the local bibliophile crowd and assorted book dealers, there should be a fair amount of people who stop in to take a look around because they are already out and about in beautiful Golden Gate Park for the day. Those who just happen to wander in might not be book collectors and might know nothing of antiquarian books, but might become interested by what they see and want to learn more. Maybe they’ll even buy a book or two, just for fun.
My dilemma is this:
What books should I bring to please both the experienced collector and the general reader?
The best (read: usually the rarest) of my inventory? That’s what I usually bring to book fairs.
Or, less expensive books that are pretty and interesting? I am considering having an entire book case dedicated to $10 books, which I have done twice before at the Gold Rush Book Fair and which was fairly successful. Another case might have books under $100. The other cases could be a mixture of my best books.
Or, perhaps a mix of the two? The problem there is that the booth doesn’t have a lot of space. I don’t want to waste time bringing things to the fair that won’t likely be of interest to the people who come to the fair.