So here we are, counting down and (simultaneously) counting up. In less than three weeks we throw open the doors and welcome in the book-hungry masses. This means I have just about two weeks to finish up all the stacks of books sitting around the joint AND whatever the late-donaters see fit to inflict on me.
(No, this is not another reminder that I’d as soon you didn’t bring me any more donations for a while. I wasn’t even going to MENTION that.)
This is also when I start blocking out the basic design of the Great Array. Some subjects have their traditional spaces and locations: Cookbooks get the west wall of the westernmost gallery, Literature gets the east wall of the biggest room in the joint. But others need to sit where there will be room, and for that I need to know how much room they will take up.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all the complaints. It isn’t fair that something boring like Political Science gets all that space when Fashion is so much more INTERESTING, just because there’s three times as much Poli Sci. Listen, when you’re boring, you need to try harder.
We have some definite shifts this year which will affect some of the set-up (and, with any luck, your bank balance.) We have almost twice as many books as last year in Art (over 150 boxes so far), Photography, Show Biz, Children, and Architecture. In Architecture, particularly, I would like to point out that we have nowhere near as many architecture magazines as the last couple of years, so most of that is solid books. The Children’s section has benefited from a large number of school library deaccession programs, but this has been a mixed lot: not just the saints’ lives from 1950s Catholic school libraries, plus picture books from the current century, bought to present to graduating first graders who failed to show up at the party. (These have the prospective recipients’ names in them, but that’s the only mark made by the school.)
Areas with about half of last year’s accumulation include Sociology, Political Science, and Religion. Poli Sci has been on a downward spiral for a couple of years, but this will change. Everyone who intended to dumped their George Bush books (pro and anti) a couple of years back; we’re waiting for the next election.
The Religion section is quite healthy, by the way: probably the biggest it has been for several years, NOT counting last year, when we had twice as many boxes as we had ever had in the history of the Book Fair. It’s returning to normal, that’s all.
Among the less drastic changes, we’ve had an uptick in Sports (baseball books), Transportation (priced three boxes just of train books last weekend; do you know anyone who’s studying trams and trolleys in Australia?), and Science (a physics professor who was very interested in geology sent over his whole collection, including those globes). Trending slightly down this year are History, Literature, and Fiction.
And Paperback Mystery is just messing with our minds. Mystery, like Fiction and Literature, has been slowing down the last few years. Some people blame this on the Kindle, but I don’t understand that. If you’ve bought a Kindle and aren’t reading print fiction these days, wouldn’t that mean you’d be giving the Book Fair MORE?
Paperback Mystery in the first half of the alphabet is down, like the rest. But for some reason Paperback Mystery M-Z, which is always the smallest part of the section due to the preponderance of surnames in the first half of the alphabet in our culture, is sharply up. So we have about the same amount of Paperback Mystery as last year; it’s just that you’ll find more Paretskys and MacDonalds this year.
Science Fiction (Fantasy, New Age) is up, too, by the way, particularly thanks to the THREE different donors who donated their collections of fantasy paperbacks yesterday. Sure glad they did that yesterday when, as I am not going to mention again, we don’t want donations after today. And, as long as I’m not mentioning things, I will not insult you by reminding you that the Newberry is closed, Closed, KUH-LOSED on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday this week.
After all, you’re a reader. You know these things. (I know, but I’ve been dealing with all that fantasy.)