My grandfather started his career in the newspaper industry in Chicago for the Chicago Daily News so I grew-up aware that Chicago had a rich history in the print industry. That being said, I never knew it had a rich history in book publishing and book printing. Apparently, however, there’s a whole neighborhood in Chicago called Printer’s Row, where there use to be several printing houses.
Each year, the neighborhood hosts the Printer’s Row Lit Fest–The largest literature festival between the coasts. Of coarse I jumped up and down when I heard about it. Booth after booth of books. Local bookstores from the Chicago area selling old books and new books. Some booths were even selling rare and leather bound books (for as much as $95). But, my personal favorites were the ones selling used books for as little st $3.For a book lover it was perhaps the greatest thing ever (and most dangerous for wasting your money).
The festival lined South Dearborn Street between Harrison Street and Dearborn Station and continued onto part of W. Polk Street. We spent about 4 hours looking through the scores and scores of books and I didn’t even get a chance to look through every stall. There were author speaking about upcoming releases, but (aside from Sting and Judy Blume) I didn’t recognize most of the names. And quite frankly I was in heaven just wandering through the books.
When I lived in Washington, DC I tried to go to the National Book Festival each year. And it was always an experience. But, aside from the nationally recognized authors, I was always a bit disappointed. I had the opportunity to see people like Julianne Moore speak about their books, but the selection of the books to buy wasn’t great. They were almost exclusively books by the authors at the festival and always too expensive. The Printer’s Row Lit Fest was just better. And, without a doubt one of the few things I’m certain I like better in Chicago than DC.