More than 1 million items on sale at Greater St. Louis Book Fair

For Peggy Kornfein, former book fair chairwoman and current volunteer, the best day of the Greater St. Louis Book Fair is the last, when more than 80 nonprofits will arrive with trucks and U-Hauls to take away any remaining books.

“It ranges from small-town libraries with very limited budgets to the prison system in Missouri. ... The USO has come for books; schoolteachers will come and get books for their libraries,” Kornfein says. “And that’s my favorite day at the fair, watching people take books who are just so happy and thrilled to have them for whatever organization needs them.”

It is hard to imagine there being much left after the weekend-long event, but with more than 1 million items featured at the 67th annual fair, most buyers can count on leaving with a treasure of their own.

Indeed, Kornfein says the volume and variety of items allows for spectacular moments.

“Seeing people find a treasure, or find a book that an adult read as a child that they can share with their children or grandchildren ... just watching people who love books. That’s what I enjoy the most,” Kornfein says.

The fair collects donations year-round, mostly from private residences in the St. Louis area. Fortunately, the St. Louis public is generous with donations, as evidenced by the diversity of items in this year’s rare-book collection.

The 125 rare books include a host of collector-quality, signed first-edition horror books and a few books on British and American philately, including “Proud’s Postal Histories of British Colonies” by Edward B. Proud.

Also of note is a signed, first-edition copy of “Cider House Rules” by John Irving and a signed 20th-anniversary edition of “Interview With the Vampire” by Anne Rice.

Most books range from $1 to $6; items in the rare-book case are priced $25 and up. All proceeds go to local literacy-related organizations.

The book fair will not, however, designate which organizations will receive grants until after the fair’s conclusion.

Kornfein says that past proceeds have gone to, among other charities, Ready Readers, Parents as Teachers-Normandy and University City’s Children’s Center.

“They’re all programs that either provide tutoring for poor students or provide books for students,” Kornfein says.

What Greater St. Louis Book Fair • When 3:30-9 p.m. April 28, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. April 29-30, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 1 • Where West County Center, lower level of Ballas Road parking garage, 80 West County Center, Des Peres • How much $10 Thursday, free Friday-Sunday • More info 314-993-1995;

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Alex SiegmanComment