A Fair Duet - Sacramento and Seattle Book Fairs 2009
- by Karen Wright
Chris Loker of Children's Book Gallery.
Naturally, book fairs are really great for collectors to find things they cannot find anywhere else, but for a tiny bookstore such as mine, the prices on most of the books were prohibitive. Even with a 20-25% discount, which most dealers give, it is difficult to make any sort of profit selling books that one buys at a book fair. For the high end dealers, that is not so much of a problem, but I have to admit, I didn't spend a lot of money in Seattle. However, in Sacramento I found some really good, affordable Western Americana marked at 40-50% off including an 1884 Atlas of the Comstock Mines, the Comstock being where we have our store. This discount made the books profitable for resale. However, the same dealers were also at the Seattle Fair with some of the same inventory, but these were not discounted, so I didn't buy any more.
Needless to say, that didn't stop me from (not literally) drooling over many of the fabulous books, and some really nice prints and ephemera that I found at both fairs. It is impossible in the space allotted to mention all the wonderful booksellers, so don't be offended, you were all wonderful. I carry some nice natural history and agriculture books, so I was quite fascinated by one book that had the first printed pictures of insects, published in the mid-1600s and another dealer who had a great collection of antiquarian bee books with terrific plates.
Possibly, the most fun at any book fair is seeing and talking to old friends and acquaintances. It was a great pleasure to see Rob Roulon-Miller who came all the way from St. Paul. He is one of the instructors/booksellers/mentors that I met last year when I took the Colorado Antiquarian Bookseller training seminar. He said that he does the Seattle Fair often because he does well there. It was good to see Steve Blackmer, a long-time acquaintance, from Chanticleer Books in Sonoma. He has been at almost every fair I've been to. He was at both Sacramento and Seattle and said he was doing quite well. Bud Plant and Anne Hutchison from the Nevada City, California, area were there and Bud tried to tempt me with some very nice collectible gun books. I'll be calling him in the near future. I chatted with Lori Hughes, the Cookbook Lady from El Sobrante, who was at both fairs and did well at both fairs. She told me that, in general, she had one of her best years ever. I have to say I was surprised to hear that as most of the other dealers I have spoken to had a tough year.
We also met some new folks. My husband always heads for the maritime books. He's an old salt and he found some great stuff at Greg Gibson's Ten Pound Island Books from Gloucester, Massachusetts, Ocean Book Berth in Seattle, and Pringle Creek Books in Salem, Oregon. I was interested to see several book publishers who publish not only their own works, but other folks as well. Also, my grandparents were world travelers - mostly in the Orient - and I have some Japanese books that Carolyn Staley was anxious to see. She had a lovely display of Asian art and books.