Antique Book and Paper Fair: Carrying on the tradition of book sales after COVID-19

Twenty-five years ago, Curious Book Shop owner Ray Walsh and his friend held a coin exhibit in the National Guard armory. This coin show has undergone a great transformation.

After adding more products from vendors, more demand from buyers and the event moving from location to location, it has now become the book and paper fair held annually in Lansing .

This year’s Book and Paper Fair runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 3 at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Conference Center.

“We do it twice a year, normally in the spring and fall,” Walsh said. “Due to COVID, we couldn’t really have a show, which made it harder for everyone.”

The show’s hosts are Archives Book Shop, Curious Book Shop, and Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show. They work with vendors across the country to bring the event to the Lansing community.

“It’s one of the largest book fairs in the Midwest, and we have a variety of exhibitors coming to the fair from a number of different states,” Walsh said.

The tradition of this event not only proves the resilience of these bookstores during COVID, but to keep demand for paperbacks alive after a surge in demand from online media and e-commerce centric shopping that have negative impacts on small businesses and local bookstores.

“The internet is a little bit different about not being able to touch, feel, and see things,” Walsh said. “So, yeah, you can actually touch those books.”

Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 13 and under, along with easy access to free parking. It welcomes all members of the community, from readers to non-readers, to showcase various products ranging from postcard collections to antique books.

As Walsh described it, “It’s like a scavenger hunt for a wide variety of items there, and an attempt to search for the good stuff.”

As the hosts work hard and prepare to host the 71st Book and Paper Fair, Walsh expressed uncertainty and excitement.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID-19,” Walsh said. “But we hope there will be a lot of customers and a lot of people will be happy with the things they find in the sale.”

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