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The IOBA Standard is the journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and covers the book world, with a special focus on the online used, out-of-print, and collectible bookselling markets.


Gold Rush Book Fair, held May 17, 2003

A gorgeous California Gold Country day provided the backdrop for the Third Annual GOLD RUSH BOOK FAIR, held on May 17, 2003, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley California. The single day fair hours were 10am to 5pm.

Holding the GRBF at the Nevada County Fairgrounds represented a change of venue, as the 2001 and 2002 Fairs were held at the Miners Foundry cultural Center in Nevada City. The venue change allowed for unlimited free parking, better lighting, better booth size and customer access, and better ingress and egress than the prior venue, and was greeted with enthusiasm by both dealers and the public.

Some 54 dealers in old, rare and out-of-print book and paper dealers filled the hall. There was a broad spectrum of material displayed, and in all price ranges, although it was apparent that the largest single category was Western Americana. There were approximately 700 attendees, approximately one-third of whom were enticed by the GRBF’s liberal free ticket policy. Each dealer is allotted up to 50 free tickets, in the size and weight of postcards, to be given to the dealers’ favorite customers. In addition, free tickets were given to members of The Book Club of California and The Sacramento Book Collectors Club. Several participating dealers requested and received large numbers of free tickets to be mailed with the dealers’ catalogues, distributed shortly before the GRBF.

Sales were mixed as usual. Three dealers told us confidentially that they had more dollar sales at the GRBF than they had ever had at any fair anywhere. Particularly encouraging was the number of high-end sales, with customers looking for legitimate and enduring values. Indeed, the quality of material displayed was impressive, and several dealers remarked that they regarded their buying at least as successful as their selling.

Each year, the Gold Rush Book Fair designates a dealer as its “Honored Guest Bookseller,” for “Ethical leadership and scholarship in American bookselling.” Past designees were William Reese Company of New Haven, and The Arthur H. Clark Company of Spokane. The 2003 designee was Emmett Harrington Fine Books of San Francisco. As Honored Guest Bookseller, Harrington occupied Booth #1 at the Fair and stayed at a local B&B, all compliments of the GRBF.

Participating dealers were treated to a Booksellers’ Banquet on the Friday night before the fair. The banquet is a sit-down affair, held at the historic Masonic Lodge in Nevada City. At the banquet, Emmett Harrington regaled the crowd with tales of his transition from full-time lawyer to full-time bookseller, including the compilation of his legendary catalogues. Prior to Harrington, the dealers listened attentively to remarks from Harold Berliner, Nevada City’s fine press printer and maker of lead type. Berliner, also a lawyer and the former District Attorney of Nevada County, stressed the importance of book dealers as “keepers of the flame” of preservation of books through the ages.

Next year, the Gold Rush Book Fair will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2004 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley California. Further information may be obtained by going to on the web. The Gold Rush Book Fair is produced by Hardy Books ( of Nevada City, California.

John Hardy



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