A book fair or not a book fair?

A book fair or not a book fair?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

When is a book fair not a book fair?

Or, when is NOT a book fair - a book fair?


The entire world - at least, most of it - is "sheltering in place".  Whoever would have thought it...

And, while many of us have used group gathering software in the past (GoToMeeting, Zoom, etc.) these tools have gained new - almost critical - importance in the past ten weeks (although it seems, somehow, much longer).

Virtual vs. physical.  Bits and bytes vs. animal, vegetable, or mineral.  Strings of zeros and ones vs. the complexity of the physical universe.

What (you may be asking yourself by now) is she talking about?  What does this have to do with book fairs?

Book fairs have been around for as long as...well, probably as long as there have been books.  And i think we would all agree that the entire point of a book fair is....to look at, and to touch the books.  To meet meet new friends within the bookselling community and to catch up with old friends.  To rub elbows with each other.  To peruse a booth, sometimes peering into every nook and cranny and at other times skimming the surface before flying on to the next booth.

Today, and for the near future at least, this is no longer possible.

Therefore, several intrepid groups have decided to launch something brand new - the Virtual Book Fair (hereinafter referred to as the "VBF").  Is it, could it ever be, the same as a physical book fair?  Alas, dear friends and readers, in this author's humble opinion - no, it is not, it will not, it can never be the same.

But it is better than nothing.

We are all making herculean efforts to stay connected with each other and with the book world.  Many groups such as The Grolier Club and Rare Book School are offering incredible online classes, exhibits, and experiences.

This past weekend the IOBA held their first VBF - and I congratulate them on blazing the trail.  Portland will follow, with the Rose City Book and Paper Fair in mid-June also being virtual.

In another three weeks, from June 4 - 7, the ABAA will host its first VBF.  And Swan's Fine Books, I'm pleased to announce, will participate.  Your diligent proprietor has been searching through boxes of books in storage (read more on the pending move on the right) for "fresh material" - i.e., books not yet catalogued and therefore not available online, a requirement for the stock for this VBF.

I'm delighted to report that there are wonderful books we've purchased over the past year that will be available for the first time at the ABAA VBF - please plan to visit our "booth" as we will have a selection of those lovely books on display.

So mark your calendars, sign up on the ABAA VBF page for updates (here), and plan to shop the ABAA's first-ever VBF!