The 17th Annual Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair
By Karen Wright
It was a gorgeous day in Sacramento for the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair; sunny and warm, but not too hot! Almost too nice to be inside all day. There was a more positive feeling in the air at this fall's fair than we have seen in a while at the fairs we have been to in Sacramento, San Francisco, Denver, and Grass Valley this year. We spoke with a number of booksellers and many said that their businesses have been slowly but surely picking up.
Speaking from my own point of view, my business has been much better this past three months after an abysmal early half of the year. I'm happy to say I did quite well at this fair. Some said they hadn't done too well, and that may have been a matter of what books they brought or whether their prices seemed too high to the buyers. I can testify that it is a crap shoot; what to take every time I do a fair?!
Customers and booksellers alike are, it seems to me, paying more attention to price. There were a lot of folks who come to every fair and if they have seen a book in a seller's stall that has been there for two or three fairs in a row and the price is still too high for them, they may be more aggressive about asking the dealer for his or her best possible price instead of just paying the asking price for the book. Of course, all dealers do that anyway, but I've noticed that the general public often doesn't ask.
Though I was plenty busy in my own booth, I did have a chance to chat with some of the booksellers that have been doing the fair for a long time thanks to my husband who minds the store for me as I traipse around chatting.
John Hardy from Hardy Books in Nevada City was the fearless leader for the Gold Rush Book Fair for many years. He has also been doing the Sacramento Fair for seven or eight years, he said. He was quite excited about one book he was offering; Maps of San Francisco Bay from the Spanish Discovery in 1769 to the American Occupation. It is a 1950 Grabhorn Press book and John thinks it is the most beautiful book Grabhorn ever made.
One new bookseller to the Sacramento Fair was Jeanette Stedifor from Blast from the Past Books in Carmichael, California. She got involved in bookselling when she was laid off from her job. Her father and uncle gave her books from their libraries as a start up. She wanted to become more familiar with the book market world and has designs to become a children's book author. She had a nice eclectic selection of Western Americana, Native Americana, and children's books. She also had a children's author at her booth, Dawn Lairamore, who was signing her book Ivy's Ever After, a fairy tale where the princess and the dragon are not exactly as they are expected to be.
Strolling along the aisles, my eye was caught by a booth containing only books on art and artists, and all were pretty reasonably priced. I stopped to talk to them as they had a book by a western artist I liked. Alice and Art Nauman are volunteers for the Sacramento SPCA. They don't normally do a booth, but they were given nearly 1000 art books by the heirs of a Sacramento physician who was also an avid book collector. The art books are priced, according to Mr. Nauman, at about 30-40 percent of what they saw as retail on the internet at ABE, Ebay, and the like. All the books are in pristine or near new condition – some still in shrink wrap. It was quite an impressive collection and the ones they had with them were just the tip of the iceberg. The Naumans said they would be having a big sale in November in Sacramento, and it's not just limited to art books. If you are interested contact the Sacramento SPCA or firstname.lastname@example.org.