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Millennials May Ensure Akron's Antiquarian Book Show Has A Future

Kabir Bhatia
Frank Klein (seated) helped organize the first Akron Antiquarian Book Fair in 1983 at the Quaker Square Hilton. His granddaughter, Patti Russell (right), and her aunt, Andrea Klein, helped organize this year's show.

Millennials may be saving Akron’s Antiquarian Book & Paper Show.

The book show didn’t happen last year due to waning interest from sellers. But this year, organizers took to social media and drummed up enough support that attendance actually increased compared to 2016.

Patti Russell, a millennial and fourth-generation bookseller, helped organize the show and says young people are returning because of a renewed appreciation for shopping retro, small, and local.

“You see that with record shops, vintage clothing shops, book stores, restaurants even,” Russell says. “I think I read an article that [said] millennials are killing chain restaurants because they want to go to the local mom-and-pop place.”

The Antiquarian Book & Paper Fair (as it was known then) started in 1983. This year, the Northern Ohio Bibliophilic Society added items such as posters and postcards. The result was a crowd that was about 25 percent millennials like Ziwei Zhou, who lives in Fairlawn but grew up in China.

"I actually like [to] physically have a book in my hand better than having my phone,” Zhou says. “First thing, it hurts my eyes. And when we were raised -- when we were very young -- we were just reading books. So this kind of brings the feelings back."

And on a purely practical level, Russell says reading print off of a page as opposed to a computer screen is much easier on the eyes.

She adds that society plans to be back at the John S. Knight Center for the 36th Antiquarian Book & Paper Show next year, instead of waiting till 2020 as originally planned.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.