JEREMY CARSON — The Antiquarian Book Co

Behind The Scenes At The ETC Bloomsbury Bookfair

An insider’s account by Jeremy Carson, of   The Antiquarian Book Company

I’ve been buying at the Etc Bloomsbury Book Fair for ten years and about five years ago took the plunge and began to sell here. I wish I’d done it earlier! The days are long but I’m selling books for fun and profit and that’s always good.

As soon as the doors open at 7.00am up to a hundred book sellers rush into the room pushing handcarts loaded with boxes. Five minutes later schools of top dealers begin to circle the room like sharks, already on the hunt for the freshest material. And every month I look over at their stalls of gleaming books and beautiful maps and think: how do you get all that done in five minutes?


It’s still a mystery. It takes me that long to get eight banana boxes into the room, never mind emptied

Dealers are already hunting out fresh stock…

and packed away.  While I’m just getting started the first trade arrive at my stand. Selling is all about buying and there’s always something to find here.

There are literally thousands of books from £2 upwards along with piles of photograph albums, mountains of maps, boxes of ephemera, prints, autographs, artwork and more. Nothing beats having first choice of the treasures and when I finally tour the room I’m very pleased with what I find. Even better, when I return to my stand there are plenty books reserved under the shelves.

Half the story: I couldn’t get all the tables in the photograph!

The best thing about this fair is that it certainly isn’t ‘all over by ten o’ clock’. Far from it. The Royal National is in Bloomsbury, in the middle of London. Plenty of money comes through the door and the fair is bustling all day.

In fact it’s that last of the regulars fairs that feels big every time. It attracts collectors of all pockets as well as visiting dealers. The fair is the monthly heartbeat of the trade and as the day wears on I sell to regular customers and more trade. And here’s a tip: the last hour or so is a good time to tour the room again. The place is so big it’s impossible to see everything in one go and good deals can be struck as time ticks on.

I’d certainly recommend the fair. There are always new faces coming along to join the regulars. Five

My handy assistant Alpha Nails dispensing the cards…

years ago I shared a stand with an established dealer to get started. Another great way is to take advantage of the discounted rent for your first fair. No monthly fair beats Bloomsbury for buying and selling so come and join us!

You can visit  The Antiquarian Book Company’s website by clicking   HERE