Wondering Wall: Book Fair Etiquette

Wondering Wall: Book Fair Etiquette

I attended a regional book fair on Saturday and was hoping to snaffle some bargains. I thought I was a pro as I’d attended a two million book one in the city a few times. I made several faux pas however within a short space of time and ended up fleeing without purchasing anything (very unusual for me). As I quickly vacated the premises, I wondered if there was some sort of unwritten set of rules that should be followed at book fairs and if so, what they should look like.  Here are my proposed rules. What do you think? Any more that are needed?

Rule One – arrive early no matter what the official start time is
Not only had I missed the first round of the sausage sizzle by showing up on time, I also missed getting a park close to the entrance. No biggie on most occasions but it was raining heavily at the time. I’m afraid that one day I’ll melt and someone will nick my shoes. You also miss out on first grab at the books if the volunteers are not constantly restocking which brings me to Rule Two.

Rule Two – only take the books you are genuinely interested in
I saw an elderly woman standing at a table with couple of crates of books at her feet. I assumed that she was a volunteer and was putting out new stock so I had a peek inside her crates. Turns out she was actually a customer. She had grabbed every single romance novel that didn’t look as if it was an eighties or nineties bodice ripper and shoved them in her crates so that no one else could take them. She was then sorting through her ill-gotten gains and returning the ones she didn’t want. The vicious look the old gorgon sent my way was enough to make me pause and swallow audibly. She then swept up all of the discarded books back into her crates with her red talons and smirked at me. I am proud of myself for just walking away.

Rule Three – if you are slowly perusing each table then allow others to overtake
The woman in front of me as we moved up one of the aisles was taking an inordinate amount of time stroking each cover and whispering to herself. Pretty creepy, right? I tried to follow basic road rules and overtake her on the outside but she blocked me. I politely asked her to let me through but she would not shift. I think she was afraid I was going to score one of the 68 copies of The Da Vinci Code on display. Quelle horreur! I couldn’t back up and try another aisle as there was a person behind me was also disinclined to move. I really wish I had been a rugby player in my youth rather than a book reader.  The only way out was to duck under the table and crawl into another aisle which was far from ideal.

Rule Four – refrain from singing
I don’t really want to elaborate except to say I found this encounter traumatic.

Rule Five – donate a few bucks if you don’t end up buying any books
Money raised often goes to really worthwhile causes. If the volunteers can put in hours of time filling the tables, pricing books and keeping everything shipshape then it doesn’t hurt to show your appreciation.

I might not have bagged anything this year but I’ll be back again in 2014.


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