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Book Fair Blog

Every book has a story
Every book has a story.

Check in frequently to read the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Newberry’s popular Book Fair. The blog is maintained by “Uncle Blogsy,” otherwise known as Dan Crawford, Book Fair Manager.

Special Bonus Feature: Extra Bother

Was it Gutenberg, just after his innovation with moveable type? Was he the one? After he finished the Bible, did he try to think of some other publishing challenge? Suddenly, perhaps, he cried, “Let’s see if we can drive Uncle Blogsy crazy by attaching things to books!”

The problem for the poor Book Fair Manager is simple: how do you box, store, and sell the book without all the attachments coming loose and getting lost? Losing parts of the book does nothing for its saleability. Neither does slapping tape all over the thing.

The little notebooks with special loops to hold a small pencil are no great problem: either the pencil holder is tight enough to hang onto that pencil through a Book Fair, or it is not, in which case the pencil was lost years ago. Someone actually gave us a small slate which was handed out by a grocery store of generations past which still had the little piece of chalk attached. Impressive.

Children’s books with added utensils are more of a challenge, especially if it’s some high-tech gadget. That book with the clunky magic wand is a real pain: not only will the wand not stay in the book, but you can’t pack a nice flat box with a lump like that in the middle. The “magic pens” that smear some special ink across coded pages so you can read them, however, are no trouble. Either they’re missing or they’re completely dried up and don’t work any more.

Built-in bookmarks can be confusing. (“Look! Someone left a bookmark in there! Let’s pull it out and…oh, it’s attached!”) And, of course, sometimes the publisher puts a little trinket on the end to complicate matters. But, whether it’s a miniature deck of Tarot cards or a little golden cat, these always seem to stay attached. (Barring the volunteer who asked me to rip it off and sell it to her without the book. There’s always one.)

Books which come with a CD, CD-Rom, or DVD are not much extra work, since discs are nice and flat. The previous generation had to make do with cassettes, which didn’t fit in nearly so well. Sometimes they were attached with a little plastic bag, but somehow these always got torn away. The donors shove the cassette inside the cover and mutter, “Well, Uncle Blogsy will think of something.”

The generation before THAT had records to fit inside books, which at least were flat again. And SOMETIMES the records didn’t break right away. I have mentioned the dear old Columbia Record Club, which sold premium travel books which not only included a record but a set of slides inside each book. I believe I still have one of the projectors which showed these special slides, but I see somebody is making it a project to digitize these lectures (by celebrities like Basil Rathbone or Vincent Price0 and post them on YouTube so maybe you can wait and watch them online.

A few books come with an attached videocassette, but even back in the day this wasn’t practical, so we don’t see many.

The enclosed poster, chart, gameboard, or map is also flat–mostly–so I just leave those as they are and cross my fingers. If the map stayed in the first time it sold, maybe it’ll stay in a second time. There’s a great book from the Klutz people on tricks to do with a dollar bill: it comes with a dollar bill. I guess that’s no problem either. Once in a while, we get a copy which still has the dollar, but somehow it’s never there when I get to work the next day. So I don’t have to worry how I’ll price THAT.

The Klutz people, of course, have issued books with juggling cubes attached (their classic), or with a boomerang attached, or with a harmonica. (To name but a few.) An uncorrected proof of a book on tennis was once donated with the promotional tennis ball still attached. (But the promotional things publishers stick onto or around their books is a whole nother blog.)

Publishers will probably never run out of ways to make my life interesting. Here are some diaries with locks and keys attached, and a book with a locket inside the cover. And here’s a volume of horror stories that closes with a clasp shaped like a big spider. And…ah yes. They think they’ve got me with these. This is my fifth jigsaw puzzle book in six months. Each page has 99 puzzle pieces just waiting to fall out. But someone else has donated a tube of Elmer’s Glue.

It’s not nice to fool with Uncle Blogsy.

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