The Durham Book Fair will always hold fond memories for me - it was my very first PBFA Fair. The date was Saturday 22nd October 2016 and I'd only been a member a matter of weeks, and the thought of attending seemed daunting.
Yes I'd cut my teeth selling books at the fabulous Tynemouth Book Fair for a few years prior, but this felt like a big step up. Thankfully I received great support from fellow members and dealers, both in my 'apprenticeship' and subsequently to this very day. The PBFA and its members, are in my experience, an inclusive and unique group who help and support each other.
Jeremiah Vokes my unofficial mentor, though I'm not sure he realises it, has encouraged me throughout. He provided my first piece of advice when I approached him in his wonderful bookshop in Darlington, more years ago than I care to mention. 'Roger' he said. 'Cut your teeth learning to sell, and make sure you specialise in something you enjoy and know something about.'
Sound advice indeed. The Tynemouth Book Fair provided that invaluable experience with the former, while the latter was the easy bit - I love childrens books, I always have, and had been collecting for many years.
Over the next few years Jeremiah, together with Jennifer (Bransdown Books) and Paul & Elaine from 'Classic Photographics' amongst others have provided further encouragement and advice, as well as supporting my application to the PBFA. Once accepted, it was they who strongly recommended I 'jump straight in', and so never one to shy away from a challenge it was off to Durham!
I can remember arriving early at Durham School, which was the venue then, to set up in a very nervous state, my car laden down with boxes of books and book shelves, complete with my brand new shiny PBFA sign and table cloth. Luckily for me arriving at exactly the same time was Hilary Farquharson. It was from Hilary that I got my next piece of invaluable advice - something I remind her everytime I see her - 'never have wasted journey from your car' - as she walked passed me with a huge grin and bookshelves tucked under each arm.
As luck would have it, I was actually exhibiting in the same annex with Hilary, as well as Rachel & Mark from RMJ Books and Ken Mullins (Ken Mullins Books) and I can never thank them enough for their kind support and advice to the 'new boy' - actually I think they all took pity on me!
In truth the actual fair was a bit of a blur, but I can still remember that amazing buzz as the first customers walked into the room, approaching my stand, and began studiously examining the books, as well as the thrill and a hint of validation as I made my first ever PBFA sale.
Fast forward almost a year and half to Saturday February 10th 2018 and this years Durham Book Fair, with a brand new venue at The Durham Johnson School.
Having had the pleasure of assisting the wonderfully knowledgeable and irrepressible Gill Tiffin in organising this years fair, I am confident that everything is in place for a wonderful event.
There are 40 book dealers exhibiting from across England and Scotland. While the venue which is handily located on the A167, has a large single hall, a cafeteria alongside and a car park offering ample free parking. Throw in two direct bus routes from the City Centre for those arriving by bus or train and disabled access and no stairs to negotiate, means that if you love books there is no excuse for not attending!
Humford Mill Books specialises in childrens books and these can be found on our website www.humfordmillbooks.com. We will be exhibiting at the Durham Book Fair with a selection of childrens books not available on the website, as well as books of local interest, sci-fi and other first editions. There is even a small selection of poetry books for those in the mood for love and Valentines day!
I hope to see you there, and if you have read this blog please let me know - its a strange feeling writing but never knowing if anyone actually ever reads the thing!