It is now mere days before the magic begins. What else do you need to know? We are open Wednesday night, July 23, from 4 to 8 P.M., as mentioned for, for Associates only. But there are no requirements on Thursday or Friday (noon to 8 P.M.) nor yet on Saturday and Sunday (from 10 A.M. until 6 P.M.) Wander in at any time during those hours and we will LET you look around and buy books.
I have had to explain that to first-timers, frog flan: the books are not there just to be looked upon in wonder, but purchased as well. The books, records, CDs, DVDs, prints, posters, maps, and stuffed owls are for sale. We are NOT selling the bookcases, most of the bookends (we have a couple of special sets for sale in Collectibles), or the record bins.
We take cash, checks, and cards and our terms are pretty easy: you will find more fifty cent items than five thousand dollar dainties, but the vast majority of treasures can be carried away for prices between one and five dollars. The prices are generally marked in the upper right corner of the first white page for books and magazines. Records, CDs, and 8-track tapes will have a little sticker on them, usually on the upper right hand corner of the back of the cover. Rolled objects get a little difficult, and the talking stuffed owl may have a tag hanging from its toe. But MOST of what we have for sale is book-shaped, and the price will be where I said. (I cast my annual imprecation on those graphic artists who think all-black pages are really cool: may you be lost in a lightless cavern and have nothing to guide you but a flashlight with flickering batteries and a map you designed.)
There will also be people at this sale. There are some newcomers, and even old-timers, who do not understand this. Oh, butterscotch bean burrito, unless you are prepared to spend $200,000 all by yourself, we need a lot of other customers besides you. Most of these other customers are people just like yourself, but be nice to them anyhow. Do not stomp their feet or jab an elbow into their ribs. They are not necessarily hunting for that Ridley Pearson autograph you are hunting; they may be trying to find that last Agatha Christie paperback which has eluded them. Take the attitude that if they buy the stuff you don’t want, it will be that much easier for you to find the stuff you do.
People in red aprons are there to help you. No one, not even the grundgy individual in the white and purple apron, knows where everything at the Book Fair is, but we can give you hints. Be prepared to put forth some effort: if you cannot find that book on Elvis in Biography or in Music, look at your map and consider Show Biz. One of the joys of a Book Fair, as opposed to Amazon, is that while hunting for one thing you may happen upon another you never suspected you needed. Come prepared to stay a while. The Book Fair is an annual experience to be savored and explored. We are not, I must tell you, designed to be of great use to the person who wants to walk in, find one book, and then check out. (Unless it’s The DaVinci Code.) We have restrooms, and we are within two or three blocks of Walgreen’s, Starbucks, and the Potash Deli, so you can slip out for a bite or a few more vitamins and return to continue your safari.
This column now goes on hiatus for a while, so I can bear down on the last bits of preparation. I must dive in at the deep end and hope to greet you when I swim through the undertow, try to avoid the sharks, and come out on the far side of the Thirtieth Book Fair. If I make it, I’ll tell you what the trip was like, and what you and your friends did to delight and/or amaze us. Buy books, have fun, and, as far as is possible, be nice. L’chaim!