Book Fairs | June 29, 2020

Getman’s Virtual Book Fair Teams up with Rare Books LA for October Event

New York — When the pandemic caused a virtual halt to Marvin Getman’s Antiquarian Book Fair Business in early March, he put pencil to paper, or more appropriately, mouse to computer and started designing a concept he had thought about often but never had time to pursue. He teamed up with Paul Mills of Antiquarian Auctions to develop and host the site in South Africa and hired a designer on the west coast. The result, Getman’s Virtual Book and Paper Fair was rolled out in early May. By all accounts it was a huge success! About 5,000 people visited the site with many “entering” the minute it opened at noon on Tuesday June 2. “I was holding my breath at 11:59 a.m. hoping that the system wouldn’t crash. That was the first big test of the reliability of the servers in the cloud. As we have seen at other virtual fairs, servers have a way of breaking down when many people click on a site at the same time. Thankfully, ours did not”.  108 dealers signed up for the first fair largely on the reputation Getman has developed over his years as a producer who puts his dealers first and promotes heavily to attract an audience. Getman’s live fairs have taken place in Boston, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Greenwich, CT.

There was a 28% sell-through of the listings at the first fair. A percentage that would be unheard of at a live fair. The average sale was in the mid $500’s as the sales ranged from $6800 down to $40. He allows dealers to list up to 15 items and his rental pricing structure allows dealers to list items in all price ranges while not breaking the bank with high rents. And, of course, the fact that dealers do not have the stress of traveling to and setting up for a live fair is a big plus. Getman looks forward to the day when live fairs return post-Covid, but realistically, does not see that happening anytime soon. We are all hoping for a vaccine but no-one knows when that will happen

Getman plans to run the virtual fair on the first Tuesday of each month to get people in the habit of looking forward to seeing dealers’ best and newest inventory. When asked why he limits the dealers to fifteen items, he explains that the purpose of the site is to feature dealers’ best and freshest items and he foresees that over time, dealers will save those items to feature on the next monthly fair. For now, the fairs are limited to 150 dealers but as demand increases, Getman is open to the possibility of increasing the frequency.

There will also be some special productions. The popular Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair is expected to  be virtual this year on its traditional weekend after Labor Day. That fair will include many special features, including an exhibit centered around the Beach Boys as well as seminars on a wide range of subjects.  Getman hopes that these events will bring in a diverse audience similar to his live Brooklyn fairs.  And, with the market now expanded worldwide, a whole new audience can join the fun.

Other book fair producers have made note of Getman’s virtual fair with its clean design and ease of use for both buyer and seller with requests for licensing arrangements. In fact, Rare Books LA has reached an agreement with Getman to host their book fair scheduled for October on his virtual fair platform. In an announcement to her exhibitors, Jen Johnson stated “We have entered into an agreement with Impact Events Group (IEG), producers of Getman Virtual fairs, to use their customized platform for our virtual book fair. IEG combines a dynamic, searchable, and visual shopping experience for customers with an easy to use and intuitive backend system for exhibitors to load their materials. We will use all of our marketing and promotional know how to make Rare Books LA Virtual a huge success for all participants.

The next two Getman’s Virtual Book and Paper Fairs are scheduled to begin on July 7th and August 4th. For additional information about exhibiting at one of Getman’s Virtual fairs, contact him at