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    Adventures of a rare book dealer (and former small bookshop owner).

Sacramento Wrap-Up

Written on September 18, 2007

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Although this is the first time I have exhibited at Sacramento, by all accounts from other dealers, this was the best fair in years. Crowds were strong (and I do mean crowds – many times throughout the day I had to step out of the booth to make room for browsers) and people were spending. Shoppers were savvy, knew what they wanted, and bought when they saw it. Much (if not all) of the credit for the success of the show goes to organizer Jim Kay who (wisely) canned the Friday night bookseller dinner and used that money instead on extra advertising.

For me personally, the show was very successful. Sales, both in terms of volume and dollars, well above my expectations. This was due in part to a large sale to a colleague from San Francisco. But even leaving that sale out, this would have been a good show for me. Equally heartening were the number of people who came to the booth interested in buying and talking poetry. Though only one of my eight bookcases contained poetry, ONE-THIRD of my sales (by both volume and dollars) were poetry and poetry-related titles. Many people commented on how no one else brought any poetry, which may have accounted for the numbers. Nonetheless, it was great to meet so many new clients and customers interested in verse and poetics. I even met a reader of this blog (!!?!?!).

It also seems my decision to bring an eclectic selection worked out well. I sold everything from a handsome first of Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie to an off-condition but rather uncommon 19th-Century book on tarot to an early title on labor unions. Now I just have to settle on what to bring to Seattle

The buying and scouting at the fair was also – reportedly – very good. But I refrained somewhat. I picked up a handful of things for the shop, but largely I just hung back. First, I bought rather heavily before the fair, so I was determined not to drain the coffers of the money I just made. Second, I have what should turn out to be some really interesting material coming in over the next couple of weeks, so at the moment I’m pretty fat on new material. And finally, I’m getting down to the nitty gritty of getting the next catalog (#2!) out and didn’t want to be distracted, or – worse yet – underfunded when it came time to print and mail it. More on these new developments in the coming days. Right now, I have about twenty boxes that need to be unpacked.

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One Comment

  1. Comment by Marcus Michel:

    Brian,

    Both your booth and the fair were great, I don’t get out to professional book fairs as much as I should and was really impressed by both the quality of material available and the number of happy looking shoppers. I am glad to hear you did well, although that is not surprising after seeing your selection. I look forward to visiting your shop in Monterey.

    Cheers,
    Marcus Michel

    September 25, 2007 @ 9:31 pm