Book Fair 101: Our Preview

Let’s assume that you want to come to Book Fair Preview Night on July 23, 2014, at 4 P.M. This is safe to assume because who wouldn’t want that?

Have you paid up? You must be an Associate at the Author Level or Above. That means you must have given the Newberry at least $100 since the last Book Fair. (This year, the privilege has been extended to Junior Associates at the $50 level or above. But if you don’t happen to be as young as Uncle Blogsy…if you keep choking like that, you might not survive until July 23. Just a gentle health reminder.)

If you have not paid the money, but want to, you may, of course, come in on Wednesday. But that’s cutting it close. You can donate by phone or online, and save some time.

Once you’ve paid up, you’ll get a limited edition postcard which serves as your invitation. Be carrying this on the night of excitement; if people have to stop and check you out in the data base, someone else may well get the Suzanne Somers wristwatch before you do.

If you are one of those people who wants to rush in the door first, walking and not running to get to the Religion section before it’s all shopped out, you may come in during the morning and get a ticket with your numbered spot in line. This is your cue to GO AWAY while we finish up those last minute details. The line does not form until 3 P.M., so you can run over to Harry Caray’s SportsMuseum or American Girl Place, or any of the other attractions of the Near North Side. Go fortify yourself with something at the deli at Potash Brothers. You’ll need your strength for carrying all those books autographed by Newt Gingrich.

At 3 P.M., come and take your numbered spot in line. Sometimes we have a person step out and make sure everyone is in the proper order, but it isn’t really essential. Number 17 will make sure nobody with a higher number gets ahead of her (she’s tough; she bit her second grade teacher) and Number 86 is determined to be the 86th person through the door (he collects postcards of Olney, Illinois and will tolerate no cheaters getting between him and his goal.)

PLEASE stop at some other restroom before you come in. You would not believe the ways people will cheat to get a forty second jump on other customers (unless that was you we caught hiding under the bench last year.) So our restrooms always mysteriously go out of order on Wednesday afternoon until 4:01. No use coming to browse in the bookstore at that hour, either. The manager has hired squirrels from the park to run across the doorway and trip you at 4 o’clock so you won’t get into the Fair a second sooner than if you’d waited in line.

Bring an umbrella if it looks like rain (we still aren’t going to let you in early) and do NOT bring your extended family. The fine print on your Associate’s card says you get to bring in ONE significant other: not your six children, not your brother-in-law’s fiancee, not the family dog. Please do not bring in the hot or cold drink you picked up at Potash Brothers: it’ll get in your way while you leaf through the polka records. A jostle of your elbow could spill the coffee over all the work our volunteers spent alphabetizing just so you could find that rare copy of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

DO bring your reading glasses.DO bring your checkbook, credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover), or cash (U.S. only) And DO have fun buying stuff: we don’t set out all those books on Zen for our own peace of mind.

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