Book dealers from across the country displayed prints, maps, and vintage magazines – as well as books – at the Santa Monica Book Fair on Saturday and Sunday, September 6 and 7, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Such book fairs, according to sponsor Bustamante Enterprises’s Shelia Nickerson, have become increasingly important since high rents have driven many booksellers out of retail storefronts and into strictly online and mail-order “stores.”
The fairs give them a chance to meet customers in person and give those customers the opportunity to see and touch the merchandise.
This year’s fair at the Civic featured a special display of the works of Leo Politi (1908-1996), a prolific artist and illustrator best known for his children’s books that earned him the coveted Caldecott Medal and the Catholic Church’s Regina Medal. He also produced some wonderful books like Bunker Hill and Angeleno Heights, featuring his renditions of old Los Angeles.
Politi’s son Paul was on hand to guide fair-goers through the display of his father’s works and distribute postcards of his paintings. A year-long celebration of the centennial of Politi’s birth will continue at the Santa Monica Public Library’s MLK Auditorium on Saturday, September 13, at 2 p.m. with Paul Politi and author Ann Stalcup (Leo Politi, Artist of the Angeles).
The Santa Monica Book, Print, Photo & Paper Fair, as it was officially called, included booths from Santa Monica and Venice dealers, and booksellers from throughout California (north and south) as well as from New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and points in between. First editions ranging from classic literature to murder mysteries were offered at prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. A rare find was a very slim post-earthquake issue of Sunset magazine from May 1906 (“New San Francisco Emergency Edition”).
Santa Monica dealer and Landmarks Commissioner Roger Genser echoed the sentiment of the more than 80 booksellers when he said that he welcomed the opportunity to interact with the public face-to-face and display his wares to book lovers in person.