So What Came Of It All? | Newberry

So What Came Of It All?

YES. Yes, we do.

To judge by the number of people asking, sometimes very anxiously, there is some doubt as to whether the Newberry would ever sell books in languages other than English. We do have them: in our Foreign Language section. For those of you who had a map and still asked this question, what did you THINK we’d have in our Foreign Language section?

I note that a lot of people DID find these books, and bought them, though there were plenty of complaints that we didn’t have enough sticky notes to show where one language ended and another one stopped. My reply to this, never given during the Fair itself, is that the Library is upstairs and we are trying to run a mere Book Fair AND if you can’t tell whether you’re looking at French or Swahili, what difference does it make which it is?

Anyhow, the weather was nice and the people were really nice, and we had a good time. We sold a record number of books (leaving a record number of leftovers, however) and made a new record for the most money brought in by a Book Fair, surpassing our budgetary goal (I still don’t know what our budgetary goal was: they tell me that months afterward.) We didn’t just break the old record: we stomped it to smithereens. If one or two of you had bought just one more copy of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, we might have made ten percent more than last year’s total, and once you’re in the six figure range, that’s going some.

We had so many books to start with that not a single category sold out completely this year, but those which were left with a mere stack of lonely books huddling in a corner were Graphic Novels, LGBT (three cheers for the newest categories), African-American Studies, and Dance. The Children’s section, which started at over two hundred boxes total, was gradually eaten away by hordes of book moths of all ages, from grandparents finding nice shiny new copies of books THEY loved to at least one small child who had to be helped up onto the table to look. (We frown on that in most categories.) I must note the advances in modern technology which also helped out. One grave man in a business suit was getting instructions by phone. “What was that? Bunnies? Okay, bunnies.”

I wonder what will become of the ten or eleven year-old who asked me where in Art to find the books on tattoos, but I give her points. We DO put the books on tattoo in the Art section, which some customers would NEVER figure out.

We always used to put books on cigars in Cooking, by the way. We don’t get many books on cigars these days (the fad, which once included a cigar bar at 60 EAST Walton, which those of us at 60 WEST Walton kept getting shipments for) seems to have faded. I apologize to being indefinite to the customer who wanted to know where cigar books would be, and could only tell him where I would have put them, and not where the Book Fair crew might have set them out.

Art and Cooking were two other categories which started the Fair with over two hundred boxes of books, and though they did not do QUITE so well as Children’s, we did get all those books out for sale over the weekend, and Cooking did very well. (It’s harder to tell with Art. The books are so BIG.)

I think we did a little better using the new rooms on the first floor–especially in Checkout–but I’ve made some new maps for next year which will make for a little easier walking over here, and more books over there. Yes, we DID notice a bit of a lighting problem in Rooms 3 and 4, and have made notes for it. (We cannot actually raise or lower the lights without getting on a ladder and changing things at ceiling level. NEXT year we’ll do it BEFORE we set up the tables.)

But by and large things went beautifully, and through our exhaustion and our bewilderment at the record number of leftovers (inevitable if you start with a record number of books for sale), we are happy with it all. We hope you’re happy, too. Later this week, I’ll tell you about our notable customers, and the interesting questions they asked.

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