The weather behaved itself, as did MOST of the customers, and the Thirty-First Newberry Book Fair came up with its second largest total in its many-storied history. (We’re somewhere around $160,000, but we’re not sure on which side of that the total falls: the downstate returns have yet to be counted, or something. Who paid in hanging chads?)
You exhausted our African-American Studies section (just one book left by Sunday morning), Philosophy (seven books left), Literature, Drama, Poetry, Classics, and so forth. The only sign taken away during the weekend was Fashion: there were apparently four or five books left, but somebody put them all in another category by mistake.) Sheet music, LPs, old coins, and fine old issues of Life Magazine were also nearly exhausted. (We did have some nice issues of Life from the 1940s, whose sales did not surprise me, but I never expected that issues like “The Year In Review 1993” would also be hot items.) In our coin section, everything sold, from sales tax tokens to Victorian farthings, except for two wartime Canadian pennies. On the other hand, everyone who saw the coin section demanded, “Got any stamps?” You can’t please ‘em all.
We were all fascinated by the large numbers of children brandishing their pocket money. I am torn between saying that, really, children are not allowed big enough allowances and that it is a good early lesson in planning and decision-making for them to realize they can’t afford five Magic Tree House books AND those six jigsaw puzzles. We were particularly impressed by the intent but thoroughly polite young lady who went dashing along the aisle in Room 6 with her book, calling out, “Scuse Me Scuse Me Scuse Me” as she passed the other shoppers. I hope some of the older shoppers picked up on this.
We sold two of our collectibles with commas in the prices, but not the signed Game of Thrones. (All our Tolkien collectibles sold, though. Enheartening to see the classics so highly regarded.)
Of course, there were disappointments. Mighty little of our collection of novels in Dutch seem to have left the building, and I still own the complete 38 volume translation of the manga Ranma 1/2 into Cantonese. (THAT goes to eBay.) But people snatched up the bound volumes of National Geographic, so I guess I shouldn’t moan. As I have said before, if I could predict flawlessly what people will buy, I would not be hanging around here. (I’d probably have an infomercial on late night TV.)
Half the slide carousels sold, but not the ten-box set of Something About the Author. Two-thirds of the silk neckties were carried away by happy customers (ignoring cries from the fashion conscious that they were too wide: that’s what made them COLLECTIBLES, peanut butter nachos.) I’ve been getting calls from donors asking “Do you still accept DVDs?” but something like three-quarters of those were purchased by people who may or may not ever find time to watch them.
A good time was had by most, and it looks as if they’ll insist we do this again next year about this time. In the next column, I’ll let you know about some of the questions and complaints you passed along during the weekend, a few of which are going to make it into our Hall of Fame.
That’s 31 down, 69 to go.