Street Prophets Friday: Book World, Prague 2022
Just let me jump in the garden for a second—
Back in the big city, business was business as usual – except for Thursday when I took advantage of switching from an afternoon class to Tuesday and accompanied my nearly 80-year-old aunt to the annual book exhibition. Somehow I had never been to a book fair of any kind before, although I had always loved books.
And that fancy headline was a link to the official information page (in English, of course), because as usual, those dull werelynx claws are just scratching the surface.
I could really use a couch to sharpen them – invitations?
The first order of business was chaos. Order was rather lacking outside of the event. Maybe as the event rolls out they will get registrations because we were among dozens of people who ended up outside the fairgrounds wondering how to get in. I mean, we had all heard about the fire that destroyed half of the main exhibit hall, but we still expected to enter through the main door. Instead, we found ourselves talking to the one person deliberately standing in front of the construction fence blocking the gates. He was handing out small coupons the size of a business card for a deal on a photo album at a print shop. We saw a bus full of people going past the doors from right to left and I decided to follow them and quickly noticed that they had only gone a short distance before turning around out of the dead end of buildings and fences that blocked any hope of an obvious side entrance. I noticed some of them were talking to another person who was handing out flyers or something. He wasn’t visible from the portal, standing far to the left. Turns out, yes, he was handing out maps and giving directions back and around the exhibition grounds to a remote side entrance far to the rear of the large area.
My aunt was sure that everyone we passed as we walked around the buildings and down the parkway that borders the fairgrounds was going somewhere else, perhaps to the planetarium. We had surely missed the entrance. No, I had a card now. Come on, stop asking strangers if we’re on the right track. It’s past the building of the School of Sculpture, past the Marold Panorama building — through the trees, there you can see the green of the book fair sign — a sign! A sign! We had only traveled a good part of a mile before we saw our first sign.
Once there, the grounds were open, but there were tickets to buy along with paper armbands if you really wanted to enter the exhibit halls and tents.
My aunt and I had the most enjoyable conversation with a man behind us in line to get our tickets. He had come prepared with a suitcase on wheels. I helped him discover that the second-hand Liberec bookstore that usually attends the event was not listed as exhibitors on the back of the card. He and my aunt agreed that the used book store in Liberec was worth a visit. I’ll have to remember that the next time I’m in this town.
I bought the tickets and my aunt insisted that she buy me a book to compensate me for the expense. We decided to start in the big tent, Hall A
And we also decided to meet at the Info tent near the entrance/exit in two hours. We knew how different our tastes in books were and how much we would want to discover the vast exhibition spaces, each at our own pace.
Right at the first stall, in a shelf of English bargain books, I picked up two: John Green’s The anthropocene revisited and Neil Gaiman Stardust. #1 Son loves John Green’s musings about me watching his Vlog Brother’s YouTube channel with my kids when they were little. I thought the Gaiman book was a real find. Just over 2 USD (50 CZK) and I already knew the movie based on the book – didn’t know it was his work.
Shortly after, I had purchased two new hardcover versions of my favorite Czech SF writer, Ondřej Neff, from a stand that had first tempted me with their translations of Brother Cadfael, a series of detective novels set in 12th century England that I gave to Madame le Lynx Garou. They didn’t seem to have the next book in the series, but they certainly had newer books, way more than were still available in stores. Of course, I’m talking about Czech editions. I believe Ellis Peters died in the 1990s.
I rather liked this sign outside the tent for Knihex
Ten principles for buying books
Behind each book are hundreds of hours of work. By far, not only the author, but also the editor, translator, editors, graphic designers, typographers, book makers and many more people. Behind each book are people who have invested their effort, their creativity and left a part of themselves in it. It is therefore necessary to recognize their work and buy books responsibly. We have written for you how to do it. It’s simple.
1: Find your bookstore and buy there.
2: Support your favorite publishers and buy directly from them.
3: Before buying from a large e-store, find out if the publisher does not have its own e-store.
4: Don’t necessarily buy at the lowest price. If you pay extra, it can help provide a bigger reward for your favorite authors.
5: Remember that your discount is paid for by someone else in the financial chain, most often the weakest, usually the publisher or author
6: Visit the book exhibitions
7: Visit second-hand bookstores
8: Visit the libraries
9: Donate unwanted books to libraries, second-hand bookstores, sidewalk book exchanges, and friends. Behave sustainably.
10: Above all, read, every day at least a little. Reading heals.
I had a good time wandering through all the halls, chatting with the exhibitors. I saw a man at a booth I had sold artwork to many years ago and exchanged business cards, reconnecting. I also bought three of his books and asked him to sign them for me. He told me that he had been looking for a particular book for years and finally one of his contacts at a used bookstore called and said he had found a copy, but that it was damaged. Was he still interested? Yes of course! As long as it’s readable! He purchased the damaged book only to find that the damage was due to it being signed by the author.
I thanked my former colleague for ruining his books for me.
And thank you for dropping by.
This is an open thread.