I went to the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair over the weekend, sharing a double-booth space — as I have for all six times I’ve done this fair — with Carpe Diem Fine Books and Tavistock Books. I enjoy this fair for many reasons — the opportunity to hand-sell books, good books to buy, and fellow booksellers with whom I enjoy some great dinners after the fair. I spend the night before the fair in a lovely hotel room (at an economical Sacramento price) on a comfortable bed with lots of fluffy pillows and a television remote control that is all mine. No ESPN in this room. If I want to watch Martha Stewart or old, black and white movies all night, there is no one here (sorry, boys) to stop me. Despite the fact that I have a weekend of luxurious accommodations ahead of me, I usually spend the wee hours of the night before the fair worrying about the same thing I worry about at other book fairs: What if no one buys any of my books? You might think that after having over a dozen book fairs under my belt in the past four-and-a-half years that I would have learned to banish such non-productive thoughts. Not so. In fact, when I did this same fair last March, hardly anyone bought any of my books. I sold three books that day. My worst fair ever, in four-and-a-half years. I was a bit apprehensive about returning, but as this fair is usually a good one for me and as I always find good items to purchase and I get to visit with my bookseller friends and a few repeat customers, I can’t miss it.
I am pleased to report that this past weekend’s fair was great. Out of the six times I’ve done this fair, this time was the second best in terms of sales. I also scored some good buys. Jim Kay, of bookbomb.com, is the organizer and promoter of the fair. Though the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair seems small compared to its larger companion fairs in bigger cities like San Francisco (there are about 62 dealers on average at Sacramento), Jim delivers potential customers to the fair. He is a relentless promoter. Over 600 people attended Saturday’s fair, up from 450 in March. Much of the credit for a successful fair is due to his hard work promoting it to potential customers beforehand and getting bodies through the door. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story:
My books on the left side of the picture and Carpe Diem Fine Books on the right:
Tavistock Books, at your service:
Close up of a few of the goodies inside the glass case:
Western Americana and American Women bookcase:
Hand-painted bindings, most, but not all, new Dante acquisitions:
The view from our booth: