I’ve mentioned this before, but it was nearly a year ago. Every year, as we sort and price and pack, we label the boxes “PB Romance” or “History” or “Law”. Each box gets written into a journal and, come late spring (which this is, no matter what the weather is doing as you read this) I start to add up each subject and compare it to last year’s count, so I can kind of block out the pattern of the Book Fair. This is why Architecture may not be in the same spot or even in the same room as it was last year. Certain subjects anchor certain rooms, but I can shuffle and shift the others, depending on how much there is to show off.
Now, I cannot give you a preview of how we’ll be set up. We have two solid months of packing to go, and I have no way of knowing what’ll come in the back door in that amount of time. As I say, certain subjects anchor certain rooms. Room 6 will generally be bounded by Literature on the east and reference on the west. Records and Children’s books will generally be found in room 5, Mystery in room 4, and so on.
But it is clear at this point that, barring sudden donations, some categories are going to be noticeably smaller this year. Some are right on par with last year; others are on the rise. In fact, some are well beyond last year’s July total, to say nothing of May.
We will have goodly collections of Art and of Music, but, as I say, barring a sudden upswing in donations, we will come nowhere near last year’s record amounts. Art was represented by more than twice as many boxes as usual, and Music was more than three times as big. They seem likely to subside to normal this year.
Several libraries have come in to make African-American Studies at least twice as big as normal, while Psychology will be at least three times as big (the owner of THAT collection was a Freudian, so if you’re looking for Freud—Sigmund or Anna—this is the place.) Law has benefited from a law professor’s collection and the donations of two major fans of true crime.
Military History will LOOK smaller, but that’s because all the Civil War books are being pulled off into a new category called (wait for it) Civil War. The new kid on the block may well wind up with enough boxes to require a full table to itself.
No one donor is responsible, but there’s a trend in this year’s donations toward Show Biz, from the life of Theda Bara to a study of I Dream of Jeannie to a few Twilight poster books. The Show Biz section is already twice as big as it was last July. (There was a request from a customer to see if serious studies of the presentation of live drama couldn’t be put into a category with a less slangy name. The answer is no, but hey, that’s show biz.)
Speaking of record years, we are blessed with much vinyl and shellac this year (including some of the excess from a collector of odd soundtrack albums) and we will be pushing a lot of 78s, if you want something truly old and scarce. (How about Bert Williams singing “When the Moon is Shining on the Moonshine”?)
History, Biography, Sports, and Chicago are growing rapidly. Did I mention the book presented by a Chicago trade organization to William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson? Buy that plus the book signed by Richard M. Daley and the one signed by Mrs. Carter Harrison, and you’ll have a good start on a Chicago Mayor collection. If you’d rather work on Presidents of the United States and their kin, we can offer you Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Nancy Reagan, Jimmy AND Rosalynn Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Caroline Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Junior, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Margaret Truman, AND Eliot Roosevelt. If your tastes run to less political autographs, the Signed Collectibles can cover just about all possibilities, from Sophie Tucker to Jonas Salk.
And if you don’t like the sound of any of THAT, drop in anyhow. The book you’ve waited for all your life will be on that table over there. I’ve got THAT much of the map figured out already.