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.

Inquiring Minds

So for the first time in I don’t know how many years, nobody came up to me to wail, “I left my glasses at home!” Either you’re learning your lesson or the bookstore was selling reading glasses.

But I had most of the usual questions. “Where do I pay?” “Where are the restrooms?” “What are your hours tomorrow?” (This comes generally from people being urged to leave at the end of the day…those who aren’t busily scanning the books on the discard table, going for one last chance to spend money.) And, of course, “Where’s the price?” The prize for most creative rewording of an old question goes to the man who demanded, “How can I tell what the price of a book is? None of the books I’ve picked up have stickers on them!”

Here are some of the other notable questions, along with the answers I either did give or was quietly thinking to myself.

Is there a section of foreign language books where they weren’t sure what language it was? (Possibly, but I’m not sure where it is.)

Would you take $25 for this $250 set? (Come back on One-Tenth Price Day.)

Are these worth buying? (Don’t know, friend. All I know is they’re worth selling.)

Are these real? (Why, no: we print new copies of old Life magazines to fill space in July.)

Where I can find a book of old photographs of gas stations? (Start in Photogrphy, but don’t neglect Architecture.)

Do you have a manual typewriter? (Wait a minute: aren’t you the one who always asks me if I have binoculars? I have binoculars this year!)

Have you encountered any Trollopes in your travels around the Book Fair? (You’re just saying it that way so you get into the blog, aren’t you?)

Do you have any books for sale on women’s clothing, which are a bit more detailed than those allowed by people of an overly religious disposition? (Um, no: those go to the special Boom Boom Reading Room in Special Collections. Knock three times and ask for Lola.)

Which of these books is more scientifically sound? (As those are Travel books, endive enchilada, I can hardly take it upon myself to say. Buy them both and come tell me next year.)

Do you have any Mad magazine neckties? (Oh, I knew there was something left to wish for!)

How quickly do these travel guides go out of date? (Travel guides do not go out of date; they just become historic.)

How can you cut books only to half price on the last day when you get them for nothing? (If I sold them for nothing, our cashiers would have nothing to do but play Texas Hold ‘Em. And on Sunday!)

The two questions I would nominate for the Hall of Fame have to be one question for which I had no ready answer (though it did get answered) and another which I answered too quickly. They are:

What would you recommend as a wedding gift for two circus performers? (I can’t tell you what he finally bought, lest it spoil the surprise, but he did find something.)

What does the HB stand for in “HB Literature”? (It stands for Hardback, as opposed to the PB Literature–Paperback–across the aisle. What bothers me is that I was told they’d been trying to guess for some time and hadn’t come up with that. If I hadn’t piped up with the answer right away, I would not now be wondering what they guessed: Harvard Books? Happy Birthday? Heavy Bindings? Hearty Bacon? These things would make a Manager’s hair go grey…if it wasn’t white already.)

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