Fairs | February 2009 | Chris Lowenstein

California Book Fair

All book fairs have tales to tell and the 42nd Annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair is no different.  The choppy, grey waters of the San Francisco Bay were cold and ominous, and rain and wind pounded the Concourse Exhibition Center mercilessly. Despite the ravages of the winter weather, the yearly gathering of bibliophiles was all the more inviting, because on the inside of the large building the world's largest book fair was about to begin.
With the fair opening on the rather auspicious date of Friday, February 13, a few booksellers worried about bad luck. A worsening economy, transportation troubles, and cases of books that arrived almost too late for the fair's opening contributed to the nervous anticipation many booksellers experience before the start of a book fair.

They needn't have worried.

The fair was busy and attended by customers of all types - browsers and buyers, talkers and tire-kickers, note-takers, and checklist-makers. With 225 booksellers in attendance, books of all types and all prices were ready
for purchase. The fair offered something for everyone.  Seminars about book collecting, the terminology of antiquarian books, and free appraisals were also conducted during the fair.  Exhibitions by the Book Club of California and the California State Library complemented the amazing bookseller displays.  

By Sunday evening, the fair's end, most of the bibliophiles in attendance -- whether booksellers or book buyers or interested browsers -- agreed that, despite the Friday the 13th opening, they were fortunate indeed.