Printer's Row Book Fair


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Printer's Row Book Fair

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Jun 6, 2010, 7:05pm

The Printer's Row Book Fair, or whatever it is called these days, is next weekend, June 12 and 13.

Jun 6, 2010, 7:23pm

I've never gone, but I've heard it's an awesome event - any veterans want to expand on the where, when, and what to expect?

Jun 6, 2010, 7:24pm

*sigh* out of town for work that weekend :(

Jun 6, 2010, 10:20pm

Here's a link with information about the Lit Fest:

New this year are some evening events!

Jun 7, 2010, 12:58am

It's now called the "Printer's Row Lit Fest" and sponsored by the Chicago Tribune rather than New City, but it's the same event. I went to my first one in 1989, and have been back almost every year since then. I hope the weather cooperates this year, as it did last year.

Jun 7, 2010, 10:33am

It IS of my favorite Chicago events. I missed the last two years so I am really excited that I have this weekend free!

What to expect... lots of people, lots of strollers so plan on taking your time and going with the flow. Bring a bookbag or backpack! I learned this the hard way one year when the plastic bag I was carrying broke while I was getting on the el. Restaurants will be packed especially around lunchtime and early afternoon when people are tired so I usually bring water and a snack. I also print my LibraryThing list so I don't end up with duplicates...

Jun 7, 2010, 11:16am

There's an LT group for the event, but no one is using it:

Jun 7, 2010, 11:36am

Our family (wife, daughter, son and I) have been going probably as long as dkathman. It's terrific. My wife coordinated the children's events there for many years (including the great Good Night Moon room that some may remember) and my son has performed there multiple times as a poet.

We always take backpacks and water. There's plenty of food to buy, but you may want to bring your own. We stay all day - there are a lot of booths, and usually an event or two we want to attend, e.g. last year Chris Jones' interview of the playwright Tracy Letts, and the session with Audrey Niffenegger the year before.

My kids have always loved it. My daughter wasn't going to go to her graduate school graduation when she thought it was on our day for Printers' Row! She got written up in the Tribune one year for taking home nearly 70 books.

It's just a great day, rain or shine.

Jun 7, 2010, 2:17pm

I enjoy it, and doesn't take more than half the day to get through it. I rarely find things to buy, as everything is pretty overpriced, but still fun to look. Not a huge fan of the lefty anarchist or communist bookstands who tend to be a little more aggressive, but I guess it comes with the territory.

Jun 9, 2010, 10:49am

Ugh - rain in the forecast for Saturday. :(

This is really strange because I think my reason for not going the past two years is that it was raining!

Jun 9, 2010, 11:14am

Doesn't it always rain during Printers Row? It seemed like that every year we exhibited!


Jun 9, 2010, 11:53am

We've always had a good time when it rains. There's a camaraderie and the crowd's thinner.

Jun 9, 2010, 1:42pm

I remember one year when it rained on Sunday afternoon.

Oh, the bargains we got!

Jun 9, 2010, 2:08pm

I don't think we'll make it this year. We're booked all day Saturday. (Actually, KB announced he intends to rev up the smoker and make Memphis dry-rub ribs and a turkey. We're empty-nesters.) And he's supposed to sail Sunday. But we'll see.

Jun 9, 2010, 4:02pm

Last year it didn't rain, at least when I was there on Saturday, though I seem to remember that it was threatening. Given how unpredictable Chicago weather is, and how often forecasts are off, I'm not going to worry about it until I'm actually leaving the house.

Jun 9, 2010, 7:34pm

Oh well, maybe I'll duck into that Blackies or Hackney's or Bar Louie that is close by there and wait like a lion on the hunt for Christopher Hitchens to top his alcohol tank.

Jun 10, 2010, 11:34pm

I'm hoping to be able to be there for the first time this year! Really looking forward to it!

Jun 11, 2010, 11:01am

#17 - Sat or Sun??? Weather permitting I'll be in Chicago for most of the day Sat!

Jun 11, 2010, 7:56pm

Saturday for me as well!

Jun 12, 2010, 12:01am

>18 elbakerone: - We can't go Saturday and are going to TRY to go on Sunday, but still aren't sure if it will work out. Too bad we'll miss each other! :( We should all hang out again soon though!!

Jun 14, 2010, 11:12am

We had fun there on Sunday. The economy apparently sidelined some of the vendors, which was too bad, and the crowd numbers seemed down from the prior year, maybe for a similar reason. On the other hand, there were lots of good bargains and good folks to talk to.

Jun 14, 2010, 12:57pm

> 21

I was shocked. An entire block was missing! And much of the remainder was taken up by non-books. I don't mean just the print vendors. I mean mattresses and sofas and cars!

But I did get some great bargains on art books. Fortunately or unfortunately, they're heavy, and I had to carry them home, or I'd have bought more!

Jun 14, 2010, 4:04pm

Yes, you're right about the missing block, lilithcat! Our kids were ticked off. We somehow managed to miss the sofas (count our blessings, right?) but saw the mattresses and cars. To add insult to injury, a vendor told us that the Tribune turned down booksellers who wanted those spaces - I imagine because the car and the mattress companies were willing to pay more. Somehow brings to mind the story of the goose and the golden egg.

One saving grace was there were indeed lots of great bargains. We didn't get any art books this time, but what we did buy was plenty heavy to haul back home on the CTA.

Maio 18, 2011, 12:30pm

Reviving this thread for 2011 - anyone know how far in advance they schedule events and vendors? The website just says "Check back in mid-May to see the full schedule of events".

Hey Tribune, last time I checked the 18th was more than "mid" of a 31 day month... ;)

Editado: Maio 18, 2011, 12:35pm

They have a tendency to wait until just a week or so before the Fair to list the events. It's really annoying because I cannot imagine that they don't have at least the major authors already scheduled.

And they certainly know who the vendors are!

Maio 18, 2011, 4:40pm

Well, they still haven't posted anything on their website, but I just got an email that refers to "Headlining Authors" Jonathan Alter, Meredith Baxter, Edwidge Danticat, Richard Ford, Oscar Hijuelos, Terry McMillan, Ishmael Reed, and last, but definitely not least, Colm Tóibín.

Maio 19, 2011, 12:27pm

Awesome! Thanks for the update!

I'm a suburbanite so I'll probably only hit the Fair Saturday or Sunday so I was hoping the schedule would be posted so I could start making plans for which day to go (might try to catch a show of Watership Down at Lifeline Theater if I'm already in the city). I suppose I'll just keep checking the site!

Maio 24, 2011, 3:39pm

Maio 24, 2011, 5:42pm

Thanks, lilithcat!

Maio 24, 2011, 8:47pm

See reply from June 6, 2010. Copy and paste here.


Maio 24, 2011, 9:33pm

> 30

You need to get a new job! Or at least a boss who understands the importance of your being in town for Printers Row.

Maio 26, 2011, 12:22pm

Thanks for the schedule, Joan!

Editado: Jun 6, 2011, 1:54pm

So, how are people doing?

I just got back. I heard Colm Tóibín and Belinda McKeon in conversation, and then went to browse the stalls. I was fairly restrained, only 7 books, but it was very hot and the books were getting heavy.

Paying Guests, by E.F. Benson
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
The Boyhood of Diego Rivera, by Leah Brenner (illustrated by Rivera)
More than you know, by Rosalyn Story, whose book, Wading Home, I had enjoyed. So I was happy to find this, which is her first novel.
Elizabeth I: Autograph compositions and foreign language originals, edited by Janel Mueller and Leah Marcus
The Terezín album of Mariánka Zadikow
Images of American Architecture, by Miles Robert Parker

Jun 5, 2011, 12:21pm

I got 18 books for under $100, including some pretty nice ones. A good haul. I brought my backpack in anticipation, which helped, but I still had some heavy bags to carry. Here they are in my library, with the tag "2011 printers row":

Jun 5, 2011, 12:23pm

Oh, lilithcat, I saw that Elizabeth I volume on the University of Chicago Press bargain table, but I didn't get it because I was pretty sure I already had it, and I was right.

Jun 5, 2011, 3:14pm

> 35

Oh, you got some nice ones. Early Chicago was an especially good deal.

I didn't get it because I was pretty sure I already had it, and I was right.

If anything gets me to acquire a smartphone, it will be the desire to avoid carrying around my printed catalogue to book fairs so that I don't buy duplicates!

Jun 6, 2011, 12:06pm

Looks like you got a good haul, lilithcat.

I found three on my list, all by C.J. Box, a mystery writer I've just come upon.

Also, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Death of an Ardent Bibliophile by Bartholomew Gill
Two Meridian graphic novels
The Buddha from Brooklyn by Martha Sherrill

My daughter as usual had the most, 37, many of them Agatha Christies she was looking for.

We went on Sunday and had one of our best times ever. A day full of friendly people and books, hard to beat. And it cooled off some later in the day.

Jun 6, 2011, 12:37pm

> 37

I was looking for a couple of Agatha Christies, too, but only found one. I'm going to be taking a class at the Graham School this summer - British women mystery writers between the wars. A great excuse to read classic mysteries and pretend to be scholarly about it!

Jun 6, 2011, 1:26pm

I managed to go down to Printers Row Lit Fest for a half day and come home without any books (I did get 5 t-shirts and lanyards, however).

My post (w/pics!) about my visit is here:


Jun 6, 2011, 1:40pm

Nice pics and blog. How did you get away without books? We ended up with a bunch of literary t-shirts, too.

That British women mystery writers between the wars class sounds like fun, lilithcat. I'm going to mention it to my daughter, who's on break from teaching.

Jun 6, 2011, 1:43pm

> 40

Here's the link for the details, including the reading list:

Jun 6, 2011, 3:00pm


She's a northsider near Montrose, so I wish it was being taught at the Gleacher Center for her sake, but we'll see.

Looks like a great course.

Jun 6, 2011, 3:50pm

jnwelch -- that class that lilithcat linked to is being taught at the Gleacher Center downtown, according to the link.

Jun 6, 2011, 3:52pm

Is it? Great, thanks, David. I must have missed that.