Emotions of all kinds increase as the Book Fair approaches. Excitement over the grand event, concern over whether the customers will like what we’ve put out, suspense as we try to remember where we put the plastic bags for customers, dread as we think of moving all the boxes of books we’re giving away to customers who meet a certain level of purchase…all of these make up the sweat, toil, and tears of setting up a book binge.
And there is just a hint of melancholy in it as well. See, we’re clearing the decks for major action, and our little work zone must be readied to become the Check-Out area. Treasures which will NOT make it into the 2017 Book Fair need to be jettisoned or tucked into some safe corner so that other treasures may be swapped for cold, hard cash.
Here’s that box of dance magazines that were so exciting…but then the 105 boxes of Asian studies came in, and just moving those into the building took up a lot of time. Until we come up with a way of making sure we get exactly the right number of boxes in each day (and that number is to some extent determined by what’s IN the boxes) there will always be this choosing of priorities. Do we price and pack what came in first, knowing that another 70 boxes may be coming from some school purging its biography section?
Pricing biographies written for children doesn’t take so very long, after all. Let’s get ‘em priced and out of the way and THEN we can…what, eighteen boxes from a scholar’s library on Astor Street? Well, we’d better…a box of magazines for professional magicians? That certainly deserves…was that a car door I heard?
Setting something really exciting aside for safekeeping has its ups and downs. You, of course, never forget where you put something so important it had to be set somewhere special, but it’s different for us ordinary mortals. Why, look, here’s that book signed by Jimmy Stewart. But I thought the Hanukkah Moose was right next to it. That painting of the little boy and the frog was right over here…until I moved it over there so that three foot tall book on baby animals came in, and I thought it could help protect the canvas.
Somewhere on this table there’s a bag of googly eyes we thought would come in handy for fixing the googly eye books which were pulled apart by eager readers. It MIGHT be next to that stack of Prince videos, but who knows? Space had to be made when that really tall book on architectural ornament by Louis Sullivan came in. I thought I put that big paper fish right next to Louis, too, but it doesn’t seem to be there now. Ah, that’s right. Had to move it when we got that collection of early twentieth century books on feeding babies.
You may not realize it, looking around at the books we have ready (3201 boxes at the most recent count), but John Lennon had it right when he said “A Book Fair is what happens while you were making other plans.” (John Lennon never actually said this, but I’m sure he thought about it.) And it’s a touch melancholy to clear the table down to the bare metal and realize, “Ah, HERE are the comic books I was going to price right after Labor Day!”
Still and all, a lot of books and records and DVDs and postcards DID get priced, and you’ll be able to browse among the Jimmy Stewart autograph and the Lakeside Classics and the Georgette Heyers and even the DaVinci Codes. Only the Book Fair Manager will know what didn’t quite make it into the show and, after all, this is Chicago. We know there’s going to be a next year.
But don’t wait ‘til next year. Be here ten days from now and buy what we have. You won’t believe what’s in here.