Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2020 Issue

Marvin Getman: the book fair visionary

Marvin Getman, the established book fair promoter, saw that business brought to a full stop by the emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020.  His response was to develop another way to replicate the show experience online and in June his concept came to life at www.getmansvirtual.com.  It was a leap of faith and with him 108 exhibitors joined for the first 3 day electronic book fair and liked it.


The evolving formula:  150 exhibitors, 12 items, 3 days and presto, VOILA!  Getman has decided, with the help of an advisory board, to limit participation to 150 dealers in order to keep the fair manageable. The idea is that a buyer will be able to browse all of the items in a fair in one sitting. And, in fact, everyone does sit when they visit this fair. No one misses the sore feet associated with walking a live fair. The word is spreading and a wait list is the result. Plans are to allow current exhibitors the right to renew their space within 3 days after a fair ends or the space is made available to a dealer on the wait list.


After the first fair he followed up with surveys and adjustments to perfect the experience, and then a second and now third fair upcoming this August.  Looking into September, his 4th EBF looks to replicate the in-the-flesh fair he has been building in Brooklyn for many years. Instead of the “first Tuesday” theme he is establishing, the Brooklyn fair will move to its traditional slot, the weekend after Labor Day and will begin at noon Friday September 11.The Brooklyn Virtual Fair will include online interviews and entertaining webinars on a variety of eclectic topics and will also include an RBMS online roundtable, moderated by Diane Dias DeFazio, an RBMS member at large, that will kick off the event on Friday September 11 at 11am. Registration will be required for any of the webinars which are free to attend Details will be available on the website www.brooklynbookfair.com.


And why are they working?  Electronic events simply best meet the need. 


In the meantime other show promoters facing the same crisis with their in-person events shuttered, they too have needed to develop their own solutions.  For them, Marvin has created a platform licensing agreement and many organizations across the world are joining with him.



Five other fairs have asked to license his software:



Santa Fe 2020, a Tribal Arts Fair, August 17-18


The Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar will host a fair for past graduates and faculty as a fundraiser for scholarships on September 25-27.



Amsterdam Int’l Book Fair sponsored by ILAB – October 1-4


Rare Books LA October 15-18



The Chicago Suburban Antiques Dealers Association longstanding Fox Valley Antiques Show, October 17-18



Getman is proud of what he spent 3 months developing and feels that his vision of recreating the live fair experience into a virtual one is helping dealers meet buyers during these difficult times. He does feel that even after Covid ends though, the virtual fairs will continue. As one of his dealers wrote in an email recently. “Thank you for taking the initiative to build the site. Thank you for making it easy to use as a seller and a buyer. Thank you for making it so affordable. It strikes me that you may have created THE selling venue of the future. Even after Covid, many of my aging colleagues may never return to the traditional show format, either out of caution or fatigue. You have made selling from home almost effortless”. He says that makes it all worthwhile.


The next fair begins on August 4th, noon EDT. Click here.

Rare Book Monthly

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