Midsummer is a special time in Chicago. Each weekend seems to host another festival, another fair, taste, or block party. But for all of the book lovers in this city, The Newberry Book Fair is surely one of the most anticipated. This year marks the thirty-first year of the four-day book fair. As the book fair manager Dan Crawford explains on the book fair’s blog, the fair, like the Taste or Lollapalooza, is something you can come back to over the course of its four-day run. This is partially due to the way they pace putting out the books. Crawford explains: “One way we try to get you to return is our pop-up sections, very similar to the pop-up food booths at Taste. These categories wait in the wings until enough books have sold to make space for them, but that isn’t the only reason they pop-up on Friday or Saturday. They do this to give you incentive to pop-in.”
This year, the fair boasts more than 120,000 books in seventy different categories. Back in April, they were already inundated with more than one-hundred boxes of art books and more than eighty boxes of children’s books. All of this is to say there is something for everyone at this book fair—and not all books either; there will also be an assortment of posters, prints, DVDs, records and other various collectibles. In fact, this year they have a mysterious piece of exercise equipment that might show up on the floor. And, last year, as Crawford notes on the book-fair blog, they even sold lamps used by the Newberry fellows.
According to Crawford, each year the book fair brings in about eight thousand patrons. Items of particular note this year include a first edition of “The Cat in The Hat” and books autographed by Herbert Hoover and Carl Sandburg.
Eat beforehand or make plans to take your weary body and bags of books out to eat after as there are no refreshments on site. There is also no ATM (although there are a few nearby) so come prepared with cash. Admission is free but of course the books cost money. All proceeds are put right back into the Newberry. (Kim Steele)
July 23-July 26, Thursday and Friday, noon-8 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm, The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton.