Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So, You Want to Attend a Book Show, Huh?

The Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show is an assembly of many booksellers from around the Midwest and from further away. They gather at the show twice a year to display and sell books and other printed materials to the public. It's a large one-day show, overseen by the owner of the Curious Book Shop, Ray Walsh.

The show is held in a convention hall the size of a large gymnasium in downtown Lansing, Michigan. Booths are set up for the dealers,
arranged in aisles, so that visitors can walk up and down to see what each dealer has on display. We typically have 70 dealers or more. An average booth might have three tables, and often each table will have bookshelves upon it, so there is truly a lot of material on display.

As this is an antiquarian show, most of the items on display will be older - secondhand, collectible, rare, and often out of print or unavailable. New items are typically not included unless they're related to collectible printed material. In addition to books, dealers bring magazines, postcards, prints, maps, comic books, and so on. Some items may be a few years old, some hundreds of years old. The prices may vary from a dollar to ten thousand dollars or more. There's always an incredible variety.

Visitors to the show should wear comfortable shoes and expect to spend at least an hour browsing. The show can be experienced as a museum as much as an opportunity for shopping. Seating is provided for people who need a rest, and there's a cart that sells sandwiches and other food items.

Although many of the dealers who attend the show perform appraisals, visitors should not bring their own books and items to the show without making prior arrangements. For security reasons, you can't simply walk in with your own books. You can talk to dealers and collect business cards, of course, and then make other arrangements later.

Some dealers are happy to haggle over prices, some aren't. A smile is your best bargaining tool!

See the show page at our website for more information about the upcoming book show.

Mark, the manager of the Curious Book Shop, has been attending the Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show for seven years.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I have a poem t'was the night before Christmas by Mr Clement and it is a handwritten copy by him from 1862 I would like to see how much its worth and possibly sell it.
    please email me at if you have any leads for me
    Thank you