Fairs | July 2018 | Marc Harrison

A View from Europe: Dordrecht Book Market

I would like to say that after organizing the London PBFA book fair, Marcia and I had a well earned rest. In fact we moved house, which has kept us busy for the last month. But now our gaze returns to the books, and one of the largest fairs of the year is the Dordrecht book market (or Dordtse Boekenmarkt as it is properly known). 

This was held on July 1, and this year welcomed almost 500 exhibitors. The market is held outside and takes over the market square in Dordrecht center, as well as ten of the surrounding streets. You can get some idea of the scale of the fair from the map below. 

I set off at a decent pace (you need to with a fair of this size), naturally beginning at number 700/842! With the temperature at 33 degrees (91°F), I was glad of my trusty panama.

Of the 500 stands, 300 can be skipped past at a fair pace. They are stocked with general "reading copies" and although exceedingly popular with the public, cannot hold me for long. Another 100 stands are largely offering comics and "strips," which remain very popular in the Netherlands. This left 100 stands for me to pick over. Still a pretty healthy number to work through. 

And work I did! Amongst the highlights I discovered were a lovely color sample book and a book of cartoons celebrating the Canadian Army in Holland during the second world war. Both from Klikspaan, an excellent antiquarian shop based in Leiden.

At nearly 500 stalls, the fair is almost too big to cope with, and I am sure I missed many wonderful items as I skimmed past stalls. 

Of course it isn't all fun & books. My labors were rewarded with an enormous ice cream, courtesy of Arnoud Bosch of Antiquariaat Salamander. I have naturally, had to promise to buy a book from him at the next fair. An the next fair is another "Biggie:" The annual Deventer book market, the largest fair in Europe with 878 (yes almost 900) stalls. Wish me luck!

Images courtesy of the author.

Marc Harrison and his wife Marcia run Harrison-Hiett Rare Books in The Netherlands.