Jeremy Carson, of Brighton’s Antiquarian Book Company, is the organiser.
“It’s like a massive second-hand bookshop coming to town for one day. The PBFA was set up by professional dealers 50 years ago to ‘bring books to the people’ and we travel around putting on book fairs everywhere from Aberdeen to Penzance. Now it’s Brighton’s turn. A lot of people find old-book shops a bit intimidating so we make our fairs friendly, fun and affordable.
“There will be tens of thousands of books there on every subject under the sun. There are about 40 dealers and a lot of us specialise in different things. You’ll find literature and first editions, arts and culture, photography, manuscripts, cookery, natural history – everything really. And it’s not just books either. These days we’ve diversified to include postcards, art, ephemera and more. The only thing it all has in common is that it’s 100 per cent authentic and properly described. We’re not allowed to sell reproduction stuff and quite right too.”
Jeremy added: “I’m a general dealer but as it’s my hometown, I’ll be selling only local interest material. I’ve got hundreds of books, maps and prints put away and they will all be a few pounds each to encourage new collectors. Times are hard for a lot of people and with no shop overheads PBFA fairs are great for bargain hunters. Mind you, other dealers will be offering rare first editions for thousands of pounds – there really is something for everyone.”
People do still collect books: “But a lot of it is done on the internet and that’s a shame. One of the beauties of a live event is that you never know what you’ll find. The serendipity of picking up a book and discovering a whole new interest in life just doesn’t happen on a screen.
“Next year is already booked! We want it to be a regular event. There’s been no professional book fair in Brighton for over 20 years, the book shops have all gone and I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand.
“The real proof will be numbers through the door. If it works out I’d love to put on a huge culture fair during the Brighton Festival. Imagine that – you could see an Oscar Wilde play in the evening and then come up to the book fair and buy a signed copy from a century ago. It’s a perfect fit and a wonderful opportunity so a lot depends on this one being a success.”
The PBFA Brighton Book Fair is on Saturday, October 30 from 10am-4pm at Brighton Racecourse. Admission on the door is £1 or see Facebook Brighton Book Fair and Instagram brightonbookfair for a free ticket.