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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.


Midwest Bookhunters Book Fair, dePaul University, Chicago

The Midwest Bookhunters held their annual fall book fair October 13th, at the DePaul Student Center on the Campus of DePaul University in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Dealers and customers were both excited and pleased with the new venue of the DePaul Student Center, which is a brand new facility and is used as the University’s Student Union. Previously the Midwest Bookhunters had held other book fairs at DePaul; however, it has been several years before a suitable facility became available at DePaul, mainly due to extensive campus construction and re-furbishing. Many booksellers and bookfair attendees were pleased with the new setting–several attendees cited the “handy” and “easy to get to” location as a positive factor. There were several parking garages nearby and plenty of onstreet parking in surrounding streets.

The Midwest Bookhunters Fall Bookfair boasted 45 dealers from nine states, including Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Some of the over 550 book fair attendees and customers came from as far away as Toronto, Ontario. Many customers spent the day leisurely browsing the unique and interesting tomes and treasures presented by the select group of booksellers. One gentleman spent over 5 ½ hours poring over old theater programs in one booth. Dealers were pleased to see that book buying was back in vogue–many shoppers were carrying several bags of books each–an encouragement to sellers and fair organizers alike.

Usually each book fair is bound to have its problems, and while many booksellers were uncertain of how things would go with both an entirely new venue and new book fair manager (Darlene Spohrer of Autumn Leaves Books), this was one different in that things went very smoothly overall, and none of the expected potential snafus had any effect on the either the book fair attendees or the booksellers participating. One of the concerns that didn’t happen was the possibility of people getting stuck in traffic from the Chicago Marathon that was scheduled to be held at the same time as the book fair. Also, loading in and out of the Student Center went very smoothly, as all entryways to the inside of the Student Center were on the street level for easy hand-truck access.

After set-up on Saturday evening, several booksellers enjoyed a catered dinner from the Student Center kitchen. Dealers had a good time un-winding and telling stories of books that got away and other book sale tales. We were delighted to be joined by veteran Chicago bookseller Paul Rohe, who formerly had a bookshop with his son Chris in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Security is always an issue at book fairs, especially for the sellers and organizers. One of the practices the Midwest Bookhunters has adopted is sealing all purchases in clear plastic bags with unbreakable seals and the receipts and bookseller identification facing out. This enables the security at the door to efficiently check customer purchases before they exit the book fair. As always, it is a good idea to have more than one person at each booth, and it is wise to lock more valuable books in display cases for added protection.

Several of the dealers offered unique and exciting wares, many of which deserve to be mentioned here. Here are some of the highlights:

Phyllis and Dick Tholin, of Phyllis Tholin Books (Evanston, IL) offered a large folio volume of Western Japanese handmade paper and block prints. Each village in the region provided a sample of the paper and beautiful classic block prints on the paper representing them with detailed descriptions, including information on the papermakers. Japanese Papermaking in Western Japan, 1931. $1450.00 (There is a companion volume to this for Eastern Japan; however, that volume was not present.)

Wesley Williams (Wesley C. Williams Bookseller, Formerly Publix Books, Cleveland Heights, OH) offered Boswell’s Life of Johnson, First Edition, First State of 1791 for $8500.00, and for the completist, a Second State (also 1791) of the same for $4750.00. Williams, who specializes in nature and medical books, also had a copy of William Beaumont on the Gastric Juices, published in Plattsburg, NY, in 1883–hard to find in it’s original binding–offered for $2500.00.

Not everything at the fair was for the big spenders. Carlos Martinez of Bibliodisa (Chicago, IL) offered an inscribed autobiography of famed war hero Eddie Rickenbacker, that read “With My Very Best Wishes, To S. S.- Sincerely, Eddie Rickenbacker, 1967. ” for $100.00

George and Mary Ritzlin (George Ritlzin Maps & Prints, Hightland Park, IL) brought their usual wonderful myriad selection of hand colored maps. One in particular was a hand colored copperplate engraving by Morse, of Rhode Island and Connecticut. It was published in Boston in 1802, showing township and county boundaries and features details such as swamps, caves, and forts. Also, a “Shaking Quaker” (Shaker) settlement appears at the uppermost reaches of the Connecticut River. $150.00

Dennis Melhouse of First Folio (Paris, TN) who does NOT carry books that look like “dog chew toys” as some previous articles have erroneously claimed, but rather a wonderful selection of fine bindings, all beautifully decorated by skilled decorative book binders, offered a great Chicago-related item: a two volume set of the Dove’s Press Edition of Paradise Lost and Regained in Cuneo Exhibition Bindings Specially bound for Mr. And Mrs. Marshall Field, 1902 (Paradise Lost) and 1905, (Paradise Regained) .

The Chicago Rare Book Center, a multi-dealer shop in downtown Chicago, offered a copy of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, illustrated by Ernest Nister, famed for his Santa Claus Illustrations. Chicago Rare, as it is referred to, offered a fine selection of each its participating dealer’s wares.

When asked about book or bookfair highlights, Maggie Page of Page Books (Hillsboro, OH) had just sold a copy of Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, saying that it was Sendak’s best work, for which he had won the Caldecott Medal of Honor. Page also had a full complement of the Madeleine series books – all first editions in dustjackets–that would sell for approximately $1400.00 all together.

Customers and Booksellers left the show with satisfied smiles all around.

The Midwest Bookhunters Spring Book Fair is scheduled as a two-day affair on May 3rd and 4th, 2003, at Loyola University in Chicago. Please call 708-418-5620 or email for more information.

Bookseller information:

Page Books Maggie Page 117 Danville Pike, Hillsboro, OH. 45133 937-840-0991

First Folio Dennis R. Melhouse 1206 Brentwood, Paris, TN. 38242 731/-644-9940

Wesley C. Williams, Bookseller (formerly Publix Books) P.O. Box 181075 Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Bibliodisa Carlos Martinez 4400 S. Spaulding Street Chicago, IL. 60632

George Ritzlin Maps and Prints 473 Roger Williams Avenue Highland Park, IL. 60035 847-433-2627

Phyllis Tholin, Books 824 Ridge Terrace Evanston, IL 847-475-1174

By: Aimee England URL:

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