Antiquarian book dealers have passed out of fashion in this age of plasma TVs and web-enabled hand-helds.
But there are some things even the Internet can't kill, says the co-owner of Bison Books on Kennedy Street.
"Book lovers will always want the individual attention of a professional," Aimee Peake says. "Online you don't always know what you are getting or who you are dealing with."
With that in mind, Peake has co-organized the inaugural Heart of the Continent Book Fair and Sale, slated for Sept. 19-20 in the Alberta conference room of the Clarion Hotel, 1445 Portage Ave.
Eleven Winnipeg book dealers, as well as one each from Montreal and Regina, will be exhibiting and selling collectible and rare books, as well as comics and regular used books.
What will differentiate this from, say, the University of Manitoba's or the Children's Hospital used book sale?
For one, it carries an admission of $4 per person for the weekend. But, Peake says, the stock is being selected by professionals, which means it will be well above garage-sale quality.
Promised are first editions by the likes of Charles Darwin, Arthur Conan Doyle and Kurt Vonnegut.
Of the thousands of titles being carted to the Clarion, the most valuable offering, Peake says, is expected to be a first edition of Charles Dickens' debut novel, The Pickwick Papers, originally published in 1836-37 as The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The price: $7,000.
"We're going to bring our best things," says Karen Sigurdson, manager of Burton Lysecki Books on Osborne Street South.
"It'll be stuff we normally keep behind the counter."
She says elite sellers like the idea of book fairs.
"They attract high-flying customers," she says. "You might see people getting off the plane from Los Angeles or New York to come down and buy."
Antiquarian book fairs are usually limited to major cities. In recent years in Canada, they have been limited to the East.
"I hope this one takes off," Sigurdson says. "It would be great to have one in Western Canada."
Peake hopes to make Heart of the Continent an annual affair in Winnipeg.
"Winnipeg has lots of used book shops, which proves it's a viable business," says Peake, who married into the family that owns Dominion Auctions.
"Traditionally, in a low economy, used bookstores have done well. And collectible books can be a good investment, if you know what you are doing."