York Book and Paper Fair celebrates 60th consecutive event this month

York Book and Paper Fair

Shown are some items Jim Lewin planned to sell at the fall 2008 York Book and Paper Fair: a first edition copy of ‘The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ signed by his widow, the late Coretta Scott King; and several pulp magazines. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS — FILE)

For Chuck Miller, every York Book and Paper Fair is another adventure. Although the Springettsbury Township vendor has been buying and selling books, comics and pulp magazines at the fair since the mid-’80s, each year is different.

“You never do know,” Miller said. “You can find expensive books and very reasonably priced books. That’s the fun of it, too, you go and see what’s there.”

The fair, which began in 1984, is celebrating its 60th consecutive event this weekend, offering books, records, collectibles and manuscripts for bibliophiles of all ages. Its original intention was to provide a way for Gary Robey, then the owner of The York Emporium, to bring book dealers and customers into the York area, and, more specifically, the store.

“After a year or so, we found out that the book and paper fair had a life of its own,” Robey said. “It took off.”

Robey said the fair filled a need in the area, since the closest similar offerings were in Philadelphia and New York.

“It was a show that everyone could come to and find something,” he said. “You didn’t need a membership. When you walked in, you didn’t have to figure on spending $1,000 to pick up a slip of paper.”

And, although Robey moved to North Carolina about five years ago and isn’t involved in planning for the fair anymore, he still makes the trip to York twice a year to set up a booth.

“I’m still getting rid of a few things,” he said, adding that part of the appeal is the chance to reconnect with vendors he’s known for years.

Miller, too, knows several of the regular customers who attend each event, interested in the science fiction, fantasy and horror rare and out-of-print books, comics and pulp magazines from the ‘30s and ‘40s that are his specialty.

“I found basically a new market, and you develop a following, a clientele over the years,” Miller said.

The location has changed in the past 30 years, moving from the York Expo Center to the Holiday Inn in West Manchester Township. But overall, organizers have kept the fair true to its original form.

“It’s the serendipity of the show that I enjoy,” Miller said. “I still find magazines or books that I didn’t know that existed.”

Robey echoed the same sentiment.

“For many years it was kind of like being a treasure hunter,” he said. “It’s a nice, steady, good show.”


If you go
What: 60th York Book and Paper Fair
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19
Where: Holiday Inn, 2000 Loucks Road, West Manchester Township
Details: Admission is $5; coupons for a $1 discount plus a full list of vendors can be found at www.yorkbookandpaper.com

About Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.
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