Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2009 Issue

A Fair Duet - Sacramento and Seattle Book Fairs 2009

Seattle overall

The Seattle Book Fair.


By Karen Wright

We had the great good fortune to be able to attend both the Sacramento and Seattle Book Fairs this year. Though we did not have booths this time, we are probably going to do both in 2010. Both shows were overflowing with thousands of wonderful, mostly collectible books.

Though you might expect the two fairs to be very much the same as they are both west coast and had many of the same participants, the fairs were very different from one another. There are more readers and collectors in the Pacific Northwest than there are in Central California and I’m sure the weather has a lot to do with it.

Let's face it; the weather in Seattle is much more conducive to reading than the weather in Sacramento. In Seattle, the gray skies and damp, chilly weather make one want to sit by a nice warm fire, drink tea or wine, and read a good book; in my case, probably a new British mystery. The Seattle fair seemed to attract more serious high end collectors whereas the Sacramento fair attracted more of a medium range collector and more affordable books to the general reading public. After all, in Sacramento most of the year it's warm and sunny and one wants to be outside working in the garden and going for bike rides along the river; or maybe fishing.

We pulled into Seattle after a very long, two-day drive from the wilds of Nevada. We had reserved a room at La Quinta Hotel just about 6 blocks from the Seattle Exhibition Hall where the book fair was being held. It was surprisingly reasonable (I didn't say cheap!) and very, very clean and nice; quite luxurious, actually, when you take into account that we usually stay at Motel 6. We were on the seventh floor which was a new experience for our dog, Sassi, who got to ride in her first elevator. There is a really nice dog park directly across the street from the hotel, so she had a great time. And for other dog owners/booksellers who come to future Seattle fairs, there is a terrific doggie day care called the Dog Lounge Downtown just about 5 blocks from the hotel where they pamper your pooch. It is open 7 days a week, free for the first day, and quite reasonable every day after that. Call first because they have lots of requirements to bring a dog there - immunizations and the like.

A surprising number of the United States were represented in 88 booths in Seattle with booksellers from Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Chicago, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Connecticut, Utah, Alabama, lots of Oregon, California and Washington State. The prize for most distance, however, goes to Adrian Harrington Rare Books who came all the way from London!

Sacramento was more of a local a-Fair with most sellers being from California, Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada. Jim Kay, from Bookbomb in Sacramento, is the organizer of the Sacramento fair. He said the general consensus was that most of the dealers at the Sacramento Fair did well. "If the books were reasonably priced," he added. The really high end books did not do as well. This year, he had 400 people, with 50 plus dealers, some sharing booths.

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