Book Fairs: Can they become Virtual?

- by Bruce E. McKinney


Marvin Getman. Photo from A&TAW

With the disruption of Covid-19 Marvin Getman, show promoter, is developing a fresh approach to fairs that work around the current prohibitions for gathering of groups.  For many dealers shows are vital for two reasons; to acquire and sell material.  His strategy is to provide the benefits while avoiding the risks.  He’s not the first person nor will he be the last to wrestle with ways to improve bookfairs.  Here’s his thinking.


Getman’s Virtual Book and Paper Fair

Until now, book fairs have been the place where dealers and customers came together to buy, sell, and learn from one another.  Now, with public gatherings banned for the foreseeable future, Marvin Getman, the promoter of some of the top book and paper fairs in the country, is taking these fairs into the virtual world and making them easily accessible via computer or smartphone. 

Since Covid-19 forced the cancellation of two of Getman’s spring fairs, he has been working with a developer to simulate a traditional, live book fair. “As I started to develop this plan and after talking with numerous dealers, I realized that my virtual fair will actually be so much more efficient for book buyers than a live fair could ever be.” Getman sent a survey to dealers to test the interest level and to solicit ideas to help make it work well for both buyer and seller. “As I imagined, dealers are excited at the prospect of meeting customers in this new format.” Getman sees his new virtual fair as a great way to expand his marketplace well beyond his Northeast U.S. base.  He is designing an efficient process  through which collectors,  institutions and dealers will be able to peruse the booths of every exhibitor in the fair one by one, or easily visit just their favorite dealer. There will also be a search feature to allow browsing by category. To add to the excitement, exhibitors will be asked to show only fresh stock.  At the start, Getman’s new virtual fairs will open on a Tuesday at noon (eastern) and close at 5pm on a Thursday at 5pm (eastern).  He is certain that with his heavy promotion leading up to the opening of each fair there’ll be a “line” waiting for the doors to open for first crack at the buying opportunities.

As with Getman’s physical fairs, dealers will find an efficient and well planned process for  setting up their virtual booths. Similarly, buyers and sellers will communicate directly with each other to discuss and complete transactions. 

Getman is excited for the first virtual fair which is expected to open at the end of May.  To get  notices of upcoming fair dates, visit For information on exhibiting at an upcoming fair, contact Getman at or by calling 781-862-4039.