Nov. 20-22: 80+ booksellers exhibiting at IOBA's 2nd Virtual Book Fair

- by Thomas C. McKinney

It’s an unfortunate reality that Covid-19 continues to seriously affect many countries around the world. The rare book field has certainly not been immune. Book fairs, like virtually every aspect of life that can, have pivoted to the virtual medium. And while a virtual experience is certainly different than the flesh and blood experience, there are definite positives, both for the dealers and visitors of these new virtual fairs. The physical distance that precludes, say, a collector in Asia from casually dropping by a fair occurring in New York, is erased. So where before dealers would certainly hope for large turnouts from the surrounding area of physical fairs, now visitors come from all over the world. For visitors, fairs unfold at a comfortable pace. There is no half or full-day physical commitment. So long as the fair is ongoing, visits can occur whenever and wherever desired—I recommend the couch!

Later this month, one such virtual fair will be taking place, and it will be a great opportunity to browse dealer material as well as discover new sellers with whom to build relationships. The Independent Online Booksellers Association’s (IOBA) second virtual fair begins Friday, November 20th and ends Sunday the 22nd. More than 80 IOBA members from the U.S. and other countries will be hosting virtual exhibits spanning the gamut of printed material and works on paper. One difference between this fair and most others is that exhibitors are not paying a fee to participate—exhibitor privileges are included in IOBA membership dues. I’ve been told that you can expect to see material priced lower accordingly!

There are several dealers for whom this fair is their first ever. So, whether you’re an old hand in the book fair scene or green in the game, there will be new people to (digitally) meet and fresh material to browse. It should be noted, too, that the fair will not be a static affair. Exhibitors will be adding new material out of their catalogues on a daily basis, and it will be worth checking back on the exhibitions that pique your particular interest. Beyond book dealer exhibitions, the fair will also feature instructive videos and articles.

If you’d like to get a head start on the upcoming fair, you can visit IOBA’s website to view their members’ profiles.

The fair begins at noon eastern time on Friday, November 20th and concludes at 5pm eastern on Sunday the 22nd. The Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts Co. (PRB&M/SessaBks) is the fair’s exclusive sponsor. If you’d like to get updates on this fair as well as more happening in the future, you can sign up at the bottom of the page at