Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2010 Issue

The New Reality for Book Fairs?


Does anyone pay retail any more?

By Bruce McKinney

Book Fairs are important but have for years been losing ground to the internet and an aging audience. An option for revitalizing shows is available to show promoters: require that every participant honor their listing [and or listed] prices and offer a 20% discount for purchases confirmed at shows. Think about it.

Every serious buyer checks the net and everyone who exhibits knows it. So why not cut to the chase? Assuming that material is competitively priced the guaranteed show discount would close a lot of deals. It will certainly increase the number of people coming to shows.

Consider what the advertising will say - Book Fair - every item discounted 20% - Guaranteed. Today buyers expect better pricing on the web but they will no doubt return to shows if incentives are provided.

The more organized book fair promoters may create unified databases of exhibitors' material. Then, with the incentive of a 20% discount in hand, encourage buyers to ask dealers to bring material that appeals to them. They'll know what you have, come to the show to see it and be incentivized by the show offer to buy it.

Finally, to ensure that no dealer cheats require that any book offered at the show be offered at the dealer's recent online price and be discounted from there. If book buyers believe that the deal is real they will be interested. If dealers have books they are not prepared to discount they can keep them at home.

Many lament that new collectors are difficult to find. Make them an offer they can't refuse.

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Results will be published in the May issue of AE Monthly.

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Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> <i>[Sutro Baths] / On the Shore of the Pacific Ocean,</i> designer unknown, 1896. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Osvaldo Ballerio, <i>Biscottini e Amaretti Delser,</i> circa 1900. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Maxfield Parrish, <i>Harper’s Weekly,</i> 1896. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Les Parfums de J. Daver Paris,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Jacob Lawrence, <i>Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture,</i> 1968. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Lion Noir, Cirage – Crème,</i> 1949. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On,</i> designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Walter L. Greene, <i>Adirondack Mountains / Lake Placid,</i> 1930. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Laura Brey, <i>Enlist / On Which Side of the Window Are You?</i> 1917. $1,500 to $2,000.

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