The annual book fair returns

Neeva Patel, Staff Writer

“When I walked in the room, I was taken aback by how many piles of books each section of the fair held,” Molly Goldsmith (10) said. “The rotunda was transformed into a huge, colorful library of sorts.” 

The school hosted its annual book fair in the Fisher Rotunda between Monday and Wednesday. The fair was organized by three chairs of the Book Fair committee, Amanda Salzhauer P’23, Maria Marino P’25, and Vincent Lin P’28. Upper Division Library Department Chair Melissa Kazan helped organize the fair as well, co-chair of the book fair Marino said. 

The fair featured a wide collection of $1 to $5 books in genres such as history, travel, young adult, art, and graphic novels. To prepare for the fair, Parent Association (PA) members urged people to donate books, sort them by different titles, and set them up on the tables, Marino said. All of the books in the fair were donated by families, the Katz library, and teachers, she said. 

All proceeds go to support the Katz library, Marino said. Leftover books are sent to various organizations, including The Christopher School and local public schools, she said.

“We have a specific stack of books which we connect to the San Quentin Prison in California,” Kazan said. The prison has a college initiative program, allowing the library to ship books out using some of the money from the fair, she said.

The library uses the money for extra touch-ups they wouldn’t normally do, Kazan said. “In the past we have also used the money generated to spruce up the furniture in the library, particularly in the Senior Study Room and other soft-seating areas,” she said. The money generated from this year’s fair will be lower than previously because of the school’s condensed book collection due to the pandemic and a loss of planning time, Kazan said. 

Regardless, Jennifer Rosenberg P’22 P’24 felt the fair went exceptionally well this year, she said. “The turnout for the fair is great and kids seem excited, which is expected because Horace Mann kids always like to read,” Rosenberg said. To Rosenberg, the goal of the fair is for kids to be able to get great books for cheap prices, she said. 

The book fair also has a raffle that students can enter, co-chair of the book fair Vincent Lin said. “For the raffle, students buy a raffle ticket, and they can win different gift cards from stores like Amazon, Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond,” he said. 

Raffle ticket prices range between $1 and $20, he said. All proceeds from the raffle become donations and go towards organizations of the PA’s choosing, Lin said. 

On the first day of the fair, Marino noticed a lot of people milling around and returning in the afternoon if they came in the morning, she said. “Horace Mann kids love to read so it’s interesting to see the variety of books that people buy,” she said. 

Mumbi Johnson (11) enjoys going to the fair every year because her love for reading and the cheap prices encourages her to buy more books, she said. Although this year she spent the most time looking for books in genres she is used to reading, such as self-help, fiction and young adult, Johnson said.

Goldsmith visited the fair every day that it was open, and spent around 15 minutes each visit reading blurbs on the backs of different books, she said. “It’s such a nice break from my classes to be able to explore the different books at school,” she said. “There are so many different options for everyone and their interests.”  

Other students also appreciated the variety of options, Sesha Subramanian (6) said. “The fair provides books for everyone,” she said. “My friends like science books so they gravitated towards that section, but I personally have been looking at the cooking books because it is something I am interested in and it serves as a creative outlet.”

Similarly, Alexandra Horowitz (6) chose books based on her interests, she said. “Because I am really interested in the Roman Empire, I just got some new books covering that, and in the foreign language section and history section I found some cool Latin books,” she said. In the future, Horowitz wants the school to host more than one book fair a year in case students are unable to stop by the annual one, she said. 

Along with the tables of different book genres, the fair features shelves of teacher-recommended books. “I have gotten a lot of teacher recommended books which might overlap with school assigned reading,” Naomi Sandoval (7) said. 

Next to the bookshelves lies a table known as the “Flea Market,” which has different toys and donated trinkets, Subramanian said. 

This year’s fair did not have as many offerings in the flea market and book collections as it had in years past due to pandemic-driven logistical issues, Kazan said. “The Parent Association takes the lead on the fair, and usually we have a planning committee meeting at the beginning of the year where we gather our thoughts and lay out the logistics of the fair, but this year was different because of Covid,” she said.  

Although the fair’s collection of books and trinkets was condensed this year, students still found the fair to be a fun event, Goldsmith said. “This is a great way for the HM community to bond over something they love and to explore their passions through literature, it was just a great fair and we should definitely have them more often.