Miami Book Fair International

My husband Bob and I have just returned from the Miami Book Fair International. This is an achievement returning, that is. Because we drove. A CAR, not a TANK!

A tank would have felt a little bit safer as the trucks hauling goods to the port were rerouted en masse thru town due to an accident on a causeway. This inconvenience caused massive traffic jams which irritated the truckers and the auto traffic. Generally Miami traffic is bad, I hear, but this was ridiculous.

I’ve been a used/rare book dealer for approximately 11 years and have attended a number of book fairs during that time both as a buyer and as a seller but I’ve never attended as a buyer or seller any book fair like Miami’s. It is more like Printer’s Row in Chicago than an ABAA rare book show but not the same as either one.

Miami has not only the usual rare book dealers, the used book dealers and the publishers but you find parades, authors, dancers, writing workshops, consulates from Venezuela, Italy, Chile and more, countries selling travel books, lots of authors and publishers in non-English speaking languages as well as Cuban, Latin and Asian food vendors (this puts the International in the Book Fair International!).

This is part book fair and part book festival! A celebration of books in the very broadest sense not exclusively rare books or remainder books or discount books but some of each. A book fair which can also be enjoyed by the family members not interested in spending a full day browsing rare book booths with their family bibliophile. .

There were over 130 booths and I spotted some bargains (1st editions of Sue Grafton’s newest Q is for Query at ½ price), and I saw some wonderful books in the rare book annex which housed the 8 rare book dealers (Heminway’s Death in the Afternoon in a dust jacket for $2,500 from Wolf’s Head Books, St. Augustine, FL) but I also saw a small publisher who was promoting the sale of their edition of gold gilt facimile copies of The Holy Grail. These were beautiful editions and their booth was outside with the vendor selling books at $1.00 each or 10 for $5.00.

The program listed over 225 authors who were in attendance at some point during the fair. I was able to get Scott Turow to sign a copy of my newly purchased copy of Reversible Errors and my husband was able to get a picture of me with him (and, yes, I don’t mind saying I liked having that opportunity!). I missed the Daniel Ellsburg presentation I just didn’t read the program fast enough to know that he was speaking Friday night. I later found out that the room was filled to capacity (500) and another room opened and still people had to be turned away. Attendance was free to listen to him speak, along with all of the other authors.

I picked up a copy of Pages; The Magazine for People Who Love Books which I hadn’t seen before ( This Nov/Dec, 2002 issued features Scott Turow on the cover, had 112 pages of articles about 2002: The Year in Books, Tartt Redux, Jeffrey Eugenides, Alice McDermott, ads and a follow up article about Savannah eight years after the publication of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and more. This is Vol. 10, issue 11/12, costs $3.95 at the newstand and the articles are really quite good reading.

Dave Barry and Tom Gardner were listed under ‘author readings’ in the flyer but I missed them both. Bob and I did see a bit of one of the parades and listen to some of the music as we ‘dined’ on the Cuban sandwiches outside under the sunny skies. The tents and tourists and vendors all made it so exciting it was hard to go inside to listen to the authors.

Bob and I did want to watch Dave Barry, Amy Tan and the rest of the Rock Bottom Remainder Players sing on Saturday night but we were invited to attend the Authors’ Party on the terrace of the Miami Marriott and decided to do that instead.

Since my husband and I don’t go to Miami often we did go to North Beach, which is right by Wolfson College, and saw a bit of the art deco district but we skipped the nude beach there as the weather was only mid 70s! We wished we could have had time to visit the Jewish Museum which was close by and we missed this year’s largest Christmas tree (we didn’t know about that until the day after we got back). We drove by the Port of Miami (where all the cruise ships dock) and saw Stars Island where all the really big houses are but alas, the entrance is guarded so we couldn’t see all the mansions up close.

We left Sunday a.m. and on our way home across Alligator Alley we saw at least 6 very large alligators out sunning themselves. This was a nice ending to a short weekend getaway and certainly worth the ride if you or your kids haven’t crossed Alligator Alley.

So, next year on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I suggest that you make sure your car insurance is in order and take your tank (or throw away car), load up the kids and head over to Miami for the book fair. It will be bigger and better than ever because it will be the 20thanniversary ‘edition’. The Board of Directors is already starting to plan the event. According to one of the Board of Directors, the booth fee is $450 and it is first come, first served. If all of the booths are rented by rare book dealers first then the flavor of the show is different than if the remainder companies rent them first. Only the rare book annex vendors are screened (except for being book related) and there are only 7-9 booths available inside.

For additional information: or Miami Book Fair International, 300 N.E. Second Ave. Suite 1515, Miami, FL 33132.

Madlyn Blom is owner of and can be reached at 941-639-7397, or at the the St. Petersburg Book Fair, March 7-9, 2003. She also has a book booth at the Harbour Inn Antique Mall, Charlotte Harbor, FL and will be doing a rare book appraisal for the Commodore Club residents on March 16, 2003. Member IOBA and the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association.



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