Notes from the Book Fair

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader

Notes from the Book Fair

By: admin | 150 Best Minnesota Books | July 1, 2008
Life doesn't get any sweeter for Minnesota bibliophiles than it was last weekend! It was the 18th annual Twin Cities Book Fair and 50 dealers from around the country brought their best books. I was especially gratified to see how many of the 150 best Minnesota books were available. Just from the last two posts, for example, I saw several volumes of Sig Olson's writings. The best might have been at the booth of Winona book dealer and Professor, John Campbell. It was Open Horizons and was signed with a long presentation to Florence Barker, author of Bird Songs of Southeastern Minnesota. There were many copies of Jacques Canoe Country available but the Rutstrum book remains as elusive as ever. Steve Anderson of Ross & Haines books in Hudson had Lindbergh's Why is Your Country at War... for a reasonable $500 and Rulon-Miller of St. Paul had a rare dust jacketed copy of Lindbergh's The Economic Pinch for $450. Rare book dealers from Rochester, New York, Boston, and Paris (Tennessee, sorry) had books that made taking out a second mortgage on your house seem like a reasonable idea. All have vowed to help the MHS secure every foreign language edition of Sinclair Lewis's Mantrap.

Speaking of the collections, I had an especially good book fair. After last year's effort to educate dealers about the rich tradition of Minnesota pulp fiction writers I seem to have created a market for these titles. Of the genre fiction that showed up at the fair the MHS bought two Poul Anderson firsts in beautifully graphic jackets, two Frank Gruber westerns, and a handful of Sci-Fi magazines (again, great graphics) with local authors featured prominently on the covers. These will not be on the list of Minnesota's best books, but I thought you might enjoy seeing an example, at right.

I'll be checking more titles over the next few days - since I can't remember every book in the library and don't yet have an iPhone - but so far the best book from the fair came from the booth of Paul Johnson whose Apple Valley store is simply called "The Bookman." It is a very rare printing of a Louise Erdrich short story, "Snares," which was published by the Friends of the Library of Middlebury College in 1987.

Special thanks goes to the Dean of Minnesota Book sellers, Jim Cummings, who brought gifts for the MHS to the fair. These were a photo that Jim took as an eight-year-old boy of the farm buildings at Crosby Farm in St. Paul (which may be the only image of that old landmark) and several photos of Ignatius Donnelly's home at Ninninger, documenting the first and unsuccessful preservation fight in Minnesota. Donnelly, by the way, will be an honored author on our 150 list. Stay tuned and let me hear what you found at the book fair.