May 2010 | Jonathan Shipley

Seattle Book and Paper Fair - A Brief Review

Miles Standish.JPG

Miles Standish glares at you from a shelf. Nearby, so does Little Orphan Annie. She's on the cover of a book so small you can fit the entire tome in the palm of your hand. It's a (red) hair under $100. Elsewhere, the Shadow is fighting crime on the cover of an old magazine, which is selling for several hundred dollars.

Close by sits a first edition of Stephen King's Carrie. The next aisle over has M.F.K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf in its original dust jacket and close to the rafts of old postcards and reams of black and white photographs of people long dead.

Collecting, however, will never die, as evidenced by those shopping, marveling and dickering this past weekend at the Seattle Book and Paper Show that took place at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.


In its second year, the fair showcased thousands of used and collectible books, maps, posters, photographs, postcards and ephemera. If you love the printed word, you'd love the show. If you had $10 to spend, or $10,000, you'd find something you'd want to take home. Want books? Whether it's a collectible Oz title or a book about the westward expansion of railroads; a book of poems by Robert Service or a history of the Pacific Theater in WWII, the show showed it. Want prints? Botanicals, animals, scenes of all kinds, they were there. Posters? Photographs? There were piles of them, whether they were promoting Austrian travel or promoting John Steinbeck's journalism in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Postcards? They had tons of them. One could have been a shot of West Seattle's long since forgotten Luna Park amusement park at night. Another might have been of downtown Hong Kong fifty years ago. One might of been of Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Another might of been of a monkey. Ephemera? Vintage road maps, old menus, and sci-fi magazines could be found, along with vintage comic books, like 1944's Miss America No. 1 (worth oodles more now than the dime cover price).


Dealers, though primarily Seattle-focused, came from as far as Portland, Oregon, and Cheyenne, Wyoming; Mesa, Arizona and Venice, Florida. As wide as their geographic location may be, their interests were even wider. Salem's Rob and Jane Edwards specialty was horror magazines. Leavenworth's Far Fetched Books displayed pop-up books. Seattle's Carolyn Staley Fine Japanese Prints offered beautiful images from a land and time gone by, and Bea and Peter Siegal Books, based in Corvallis, offered culinary Americana.


Books and papers - there were plenty of it to be had at the show, whether it was a first edition of Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls or an old Flash comic book.

First published on City Arts online.