Our History

Still ‘Taking the Books to the People’

In 2014 we celebrated our 40th Anniversary.

The idea of a West Country bookseller, Gerry Mosdell, the first small event took place at the Hotel Eden, Kensington, in 1972.  Rapid expansion and several moves saw the small group of booksellers established at the Kenilworth Hotel on Great Russell Street, and in October 1974, after a very successful first York Book Fair at the White Swan Hotel, the group was formally named as The Provincial Booksellers’ Fairs Association.

Further expansion, both in the number of members and in the number and variety of fairs by now established all over the UK, saw the Association also supporting a number of awards and exhibitions. We worked with the Arts Council, offered an award for a Topographical Book and supported the Appeal to save the Opie Collection of Children’s Literature for the Bodleian Library Oxford.

Our fairs may be visited in places as far apart as Aberdeen and Dublin; Chelmsford and the Isle of Skye, the North East and the South West of England and, of course, in London. But at all events, our members display a wide variety of books, both second-hand and antiquarian, and often with maps prints and ephemera. All visitors are most welcome and can be assured that with a Code of Practice which ensures that items are correctly described and fairly priced, and with many members with a life time of experience, there will always be unusual and interesting items on display.

We celebrated our 40th year in 2014 and, in common with all other parts of the book trade, are experiencing many challenges. But our members, and the Association itself, continue to show resilience and initiative, and we take advantage of the new opportunities offered by new technology, such as our new website, launched in our Anniversary Year.

(Peter Moore)