I know all of you out there in the blogreading public are responsible people. You are not like certain Book Fair managers who do their shopping for a holiday one day before (or the day after.) You make your holiday preparations well in advance. You know how to plan. You had your hot dogs and potato chips well before the Fourth of July came along, and you have no doubt already made all necessary preparations for the next big holiday, Book fair Preview Night.
HOWEVER, because people who know how to prepare also like to double-check their list, we’ll just go over the things you need to do to attend the Book Fair on July 24. (Attending the rest of the weekend, the 25th through the 28th requires only two basic steps: 1.Show Up 2.Bring Money.)
First of all, to attend what is officially known as the Associates’ Preview, you must be a member of the Newberry Associates at the Author Level or above. This means you must have given $100 to the Newberry since Last year’s Book Fair. (I believe it’s still $50 for those under 45, but you can check this by emailing Luke Herman at firstname.lastname@example.org.) If you are, you should have received or will be receiving a Pass entitling you to come that evening. If you want to come and have NOT joined the Associates, there is still time. In fact, we usually have someone who can take your money that night. But why waste time writing checks at the entrance when you want to get in and buy books so you can write a check at the exit? (Yes, we take plastic, and we still take cash.)
Do you then need to arrive at the Newberry at 11 P.M. the night before the Book Fair Preview to get the first spot in line? You do not. Starting around 9 A.M. on Wednesday the 24th, we will hand out tickets. Come in, get a number, and then GO AWAY. We issue these tickets so you need not stand outside in the July breezes for hours, but also so you will be out of our way while I get the last details taken care of. NO, you may not come in to “just look around”. (WHY people think it’s acceptable to say “I’m not shopping, just looking” is beyond me.) NO, you may not come in just to buy a cool drink from the vending machine. (The vending machines were taken out during the Grand Renovation. Run to Walgreen’s or Potash. Do your looking-not-shopping there for a few hours.) NO, you may NOT “just come in to use the restroom”. These restrooms will be mysteriously out of order until we open at 4. (Some of them may be out of order AFTER 4, but we’re still finishing up some bits of the Grand Renovation. Pay attention to the signs.)
The line begins to form at 3 P.M. Official Newberry People will check the line to make sure #23 doesn’t try to get in line ahead of #19, and explain to you why somebody washed away the chalkmarks you made on the sidewalk to stake a place in line. (This is what the ticket is for: do NOT chain milk crates to the fence, set up a lifesize inflatable vampire on the steps out front, or mark your space in any other way. Just hang on to your number.)
At 4 P.M. you will be notified that the doors are open. Try not to run over anyone on your way in. There are security cameras and that person who suddenly stopped to tie her shoelaces might be an attorney. The fact that you have the number 7 on your ticket does not mean you can knock over everyone but the first six people on your way to get that rare copy of “The Help”. Shop kindly.
And, as always, if you hate waiting in line, just come in around 4:15. We’ll check to see if you’re on our approved guest list and then you can walk right in among the shoppers who will gaze on you as if you were a rare specimen at the zoo or someone who wore a Red Sox T-shirt to a Cubs game.
The set-up is a little different, as always, but the major categories are where you remember them. Turn right for Reference, History, Religion, Literature, and CDs, turn left for Children’s books, Travel, Art, Cookbooks, Mysteries, and “The Help”. Turn right for the restrooms which are working, and go to the basement (stairs also to your right as you run in) for more restrooms and a drinking fountain. Squirreling areas, where you may stack up what you want while you go get more, will be where you remember, but checkout has moved. You’ll find it.
Because you DO remember you didn’t come just for the rushing in and elbowing your way to YOUR books, right? Paying for them is half the holiday (for us, anyhow.)