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.

Talk is Cheep

For those of you still trapped in the, huh, twentieth century, we had our tweetin’ town hall on Friday, during which your Uncle Blogsy fielded tweets and hurled them back into the infield for triple plays. We had around twenty tweets come in, which I am told is pretty good for someone who still can’t tell MySpace from Outer Space, and still thinks of collections of mugshots when he hears the word “Facebook”.

I was amazed at the tweets, though. I was waiting around for the same old same old: what are the dates and times? Where do we park? Where can we eat? Where do the books come from? This is what comes from years of Book Fair work, when we used to say we needed one volunteer just to spend the whole weekend saying “Thursday and Friday, noon to eight, Saturday and Sunday, ten to six.”

But no: these were questions about marginalia, ancient cookbooks, The Feminine Mystique, typography, Baffler magazine, foreign language, typography, and so on. And they keep telling me the generation that Tweets together will never read together!

For those of you on the other wavelength, however, we are having a Book Fair at the Newberry–yes, right at the library–July 23 through July 26. One month from right now you’ll have missed it, if you don’t mark it on your calendar now. The hours are, yes, noon to eight on Thursday and Friday, and ten to six on Saturday and Sunday. There is a preview Wednesday July 22 for those who have given $100 or more to the Newberry. This can be done at the door that evening, but if you do it in advance it clears one more thing off your schedule.

The books come to us from readers like you, mostly. Contrary to what some believe, they are not all Newberry discards. I doubt one-tenth of one percent are Newberry discards, and the majority of those are duplicate book catalogs. We have donations from bookstores and publishers, authors and libraries, but most of the books come from people who have read them (or were given them by well-meaning friends and relatives who said, “But you HAVE to read Fifty Shades of Gray!”

Prices are marked inside the book, on the first white page, anywhere from fifty cents (not very many) to $4500 (even fewer.) The average price for a work of hardback fiction is two bucks, the average for hardcover fiction is probably four or five bucks. We price books individually because we think it matters. We do the same with records, CDs, DVDs, audiocassettes, videocassettes, maps, posters, printing specimen sheets, postcards, globes, violins…I have one miniature violin and have been promised a full-size one. This by no means completes a list of the objects we have aside from books: there’s a memory stick with a Michael Jackson song on it around here somewhere. (Very briefly, the record companies thought memory sticks would be the new medium. They were incorrect.)

Leftover books are picked over by charities which have registered to come in and do so when the tumult and shouting have died. We have had people wander in, claiming to be charities, so now we issue a letter which acts as a license to come and pick through the leftovers. The fact that people are willing to lie to get at our leftovers on Monday contradicts the belief that nothing good is left by Sunday. Whatever is left after all that is sold in bulk; we do not send it away to be pulped. Nor do we keep it for next year: we try to start over anew, except in the Collectibles section. (So many people donate book during the Do Not Donate period of July and August that starting over is not a problem.)

That’s just about everything I had prepared: if you really want to know where to park, we can tell you that. Pass the word along: tweet your friends who don’t text, text your friends who don’t tweet, and, if necessary and you remember how, write ‘em a letter.

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