I do believe (with my rawther limited experience to back me up) that the Seattle Fair is the perfect Antiquarian Book Fair. I don’t mean to slam any other fair in the world (I still love the coziness of Sacramento, and I just adore the blisters I get from my heels in Pasadena). I just mean to say that out of the fairs that I have been to and worked at so far, Seattle seems to be the perfect blend. First off, the exhibition center is a beautiful venue that is somehow bright and peaceful at the same time, the people are kind and helpful, the town interesting and alive.
Now the truth is, we cannot give a good account of load in and move out, as we had some very kind friends drive our books up and back, and they basically made it one of the easiest fairs we have ever packed out of. This time around the buying was a bit scanty, nevertheless, there is a perfect combination of style & class, but also a fun and easy-going nature displayed by the booksellers, by the fair staff, and by the customers. I don’t think I am explaining it well – but let’s just say that it was one of the best book-filled weekends I have had in quite a while!
I will say that my favorite part of the fairs is set up. I know many booksellers moan and groan about putting the books on their shelves, but the part of me that takes after my mother wants to make it “pretty” almost as fast as possible. There are no breaks. There are no survivors. So help me God if my boss comes back into the booth before it’s all done… and ever again casually mention that “that volume shouldn’t be there, it should be displayed with the front board to us.” He knows better than that now. My second favorite part of the fairs is walking around with a nametag on. I know it is silly (and possibly rather petty of me) but I like looking important to customers meandering around the booths. I’m not sure most booksellers realize this, as many have been in the trade for quite a while, but take it from a newbie – to people overwhelmed by the size and sheer amount of “stuff” at the book fair, name tags make you seem quite spectacularly intelligent and useful. All you need is a haughty expression and WHAM! It’s like you’re the president.
All kidding aside, the Seattle fair truly does have it down pat. There seems to be a dressy day and a dress down day. There are customers actually buying, there are institutions actually looking, there is lots of space and light – but most of all, there is a very good attitude around the fair. Booksellers seem to be there to have fun, and are excited to sell some books. While some book fairs can be rather expensive for the bookseller to exhibit at, Seattle is a great venue for an affordable price – one that a seller might actually be able to make back in his or her sales.
The city itself boasts quite a few great restaurants, bars, and rain (which, in my super humble opinion, are the 3 things every great city needs). Of course, the fact that we had dinner at the Space Needle, went to see the Seattle Symphony, and then proceeded to get bumped up to first class on the flight home didn’t hurt my feelings on the weekend whatsoever. Tavistock Books is definitely looking forward to the Seattle fair next year!