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Book Fairs 101
A How-to Handbook for Book Fair Exhibitors

By Susan Ravdin


Recently I've been thinking about book fairs and what it takes to successfully set up a booth, at least the technical aspects of doing so — what books to bring is up to each individual bookseller. Some dealers prefer to pack afresh for every fair, targeting their stock to the customers they know have come in the past (great if they come back), or to the city in which the fair is held (photography in Rochester, NY, or automobiles in Lansing, MI, but tires in Akron, OH?); others bring basically the same stock to every fair. My husband and I are of the latter type, modified somewhat by the former ideas, but I don't think anyone has ever gotten it entirely right - though I have heard of the rare case where an entire booth was bought out!

Still, once you've decided to do a fair, have chosen your stock, packed the van and gotten to the venue, you have to set up your display. There is so much that goes into an attractive, welcoming and functional booth, but not much advice available - certainly no tutorials on the subject. As one of my college professors used to say: "There's a subject for your dissertation!" So here I am ...

Oh, who am I? My name is Susan Ravdin. With my husband and partner, Wilfrid de Freitas, I've been exhibiting at book fairs for over 25 years, and I figure I've set-up over 500 booths in that time. So, yes, I think I know a little about the subject.

Maybe all that experience can help dealers new to the idea decide how to proceed, or even, if to proceed. What does one need to know? to do? to consider? To that end I am preparing a series of pieces on subjects as diverse as the basic supplies needed, making your space visually appealing, hanging items when you have no walls or curtains, using a single display stand in multiple ways, or figuring out what equipment to order. And anything else that might come to mind ... forgive me if, in the process, I get a little arcane or obscure!

I hope to post short entries periodically. If others want to participate and suggest essays, great - together we can develop a useful resource for those considering exhibiting at book fairs, and a place for more experienced exhibitors to get new ideas. Those who know me will have often heard me say that I get my best ideas from others, then modify them to fit my needs and style; I want these essays to give others ideas that they, too, can modify to fit their own needs.

Chose from the topics below, or run through them in order:

Supplies Box Basics: Choosing and organizing what you need to have with you

Booth Footprints: Creating your booth's furnished layout

Your Booth Your Way: The art of display, the craft of temptation

The World Around You: Be aware of your neighbours and your neighbourhood

Using Tools Creatively: How can one little stand can do so many things!

Steal Liberally, But Make It Your Own: New applications of old ideas

Now That the Fair Is Open ... : You and your customers

It Can Happen To You: Theft at the fair

And Now for the Hard Part: Packing it all up!

More to come ...

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Home | Conditions of sale, and orders

Wilfrid M. de Freitas - Bookseller
P.O. Box 232, Westmount Station
Westmount (Montreal), Quebec, Canada H3Z 2T2
Tel: (514) 935-9581
E-mail: Wilfrid@deFreitasBooks.com

Last updated: 04/02/3017
Site maintained by Susan Ravdin