Saturday, March 12, 2022

Three days for book lovers: 39th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair to feature books to fit every budget and taste

Specialty booksellers from across the United States will offer their wares at the 39th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair at The Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg April 1-3, 2022. The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is the oldest and largest antiquarian book fair in the Southeast, and among the largest in the country. The annual book fair returns after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

This year’s theme is The Children’s Hour, celebrating books for young yearners and the people who love them. The theme borrows the title of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s beloved 1860 work about his three daughters.

“Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, That is known as the Children's Hour,” read the opening lines, and they speak to the age-old practice of parents, grandparents and caregivers spending time with their charges, often reading to them or with them. It also speaks to the wide variety of children’s literature available at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

Book lovers also will find a plethora of antique and collectible books on every imaginable subject, plus historic maps, antique prints, vintage photography, ephemera, autographs, and other paper collectibles.

Booksellers offer a wide selection, including modern signed first editions, fine bindings, pricey rare books from the earliest days of publishing as well as inexpensive reading copies. Readers can find books to fit any budget.  Topics include Americana, classical literature, art books, religion, cooking, poetry, children’s literature (of course), illustrated books, military history, regional histories, world history, and more. Some dealers feature Florida history and literature.

A complete listing of the exhibitors and their specialties is available at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair website,

Opening Night
Opening night at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair on Friday, April 1, is traditionally a festive occasion with live music and fairgoers eager to get a first look at great volumes and hidden treasures, and booksellers eager to greet old friends and new visitors.

Free Book Evaluations
The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair will offer free book evaluations by the Florida Bibliophile Society on Sunday, April 3. Patrons may bring two or three volumes for evaluation. A ticket to the book fair is required.

The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair runs Friday, April 1, from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Saturday, April 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, April 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Admission is $10 Friday, and is good for the entire weekend; Saturday's tickets are $6 per day or $10 for the weekend. Sunday's tickets are $6 for the day.  Admission is free for children twelve and under.  Parking is free for the show's duration. Tickets are available at or at the box office.

Ticket sales benefit the St. Petersburg Public Library.  The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is presented by the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and sponsored by, the online marketplace specializing in rare and collectible books. Media sponsors are WUSF Public Media and WEDU, West Central Florida’s PBS station.

The Coliseum
The book fair is presented in The Coliseum, a restored 1920s music and dance hall that has been billed as the South’s finest ballroom. Featuring a 34-foot arched ceiling over a polished oak floor, it has hosted such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Rudy Vallee, Harry James, and Paul Whiteman, not to mention Cab Calloway, Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and Louis Armstrong. It is located at 535 Fourth Avenue North, in downtown St. Petersburg.

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