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Old books at Yucatan fair

Books from times gone by also have their place in the sun at the Yucatan International Book Fair (FIL) in the Mexican city of Merida, and there’s no lack of book lovers there hunting them down.


“I had a book that was signed by (Leon) Trotsky for President (Lazaro) Cardenas,” Mexican bookseller Ignacio Olguin, 60, said proudly about this market that is now one of Mexico’s urban traditions.

These books may be old and even shabby at times, but they form a market where books seem to choose their readers and not the other way around. They are a magnet for collectors and others hunting down first editions and books signed by their authors.

Among Olguin’s best sales was a first edition signed by Mexican poet Octavio Paz, Nobel laureate for Literature in 1990, the bookseller told EFE while attending to customers at the fair.

Gold nugget

“It’s like finding a gold nugget in the mud,” he said about his 20 years of experience in the world of old, used and even antique books.

Customers keep looking until, voila!, “they see a gem, something invaluable, a book that is signed, a first edition, a dedication to one particular person,” he said.

“After finding a book we consider important, we have to wait for the customer who is looking for it. Books sell themselves,” he said.

Such a book could sell for more than the original price, as occurred with the two volumes of “Lecturas Mexicanas para Niños” (Mexican Reading for Children), which 40 years after being published, Olguin priced at just over $18 (350 pesos).

“There are first editions, books that are signed, 19th century books, a variety of titles that are special,” Olguin said.

To price a book, Olguin considers its condition, the year it was published, the author, print volume and more.


This bookseller left his bookstore in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara to set up shop this week with other colleagues in Merida with a stock of 6,000 titles at the Old and Used Books section of the fair (FLUYA).

“We’re four Guadalajara colleagues and we’re dedicated to books that are used, antique, rare, no longer listed in catalogues and first editions,” he said.

Typical of their literary wares is the worn leather book cover of the “Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España” (True History of the Conquest of New Spain) by Spanish historian Bernal Diaz del Castillo, published in the 1960s.

Examples of FLUYA’s offers include a book about Chritopher Columbus with a wooden binding that is more than 30 years old, and a 1948 first edition of “Canek” by the Mexican writer, essayist and playwright Ermilo Abreu Gomez (1894-1971), which looks somewhat the worse for wear.

The exhibition by this group of booksellers contrasts with the brand new books the publishing houses have on show at FIL, the latest works in their catalogues that are just beginning their useful life and which, as the years go by, will be eligible to join this treasure trove of old and used books.

Yucatán (Mérida, MExico), March 2017, EFE/Practica Español

Grammar notes: review of differences between ‘ser’ and ‘estar’, possessive pronouns

Comprensión del texto B.2 (Comprehension B.2)

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Question 1
La noticia trata...
De una feria del libro antiguo en la península ibérica.
De las mejores ferias de libro antiguo que hay en el mundo.
De una feria del libro antiguo y de libros de viejo en México.
Question 2
En el texto se dice que...
Los libros son los que encuentran a los lectores.
Los libros de estas ferias carecen de valor.
Los lectores siempre encuentran los libros que buscan en esta clase de ferias.
Question 3
Según el texto, en estas ferias...
Se encuentran libros que no se suelen hallar en cualquier librería.
Apenas se pueden encontrar libros poco comunes.
Los libros no tienen nada de especial.
Question 4
Según Olguín...
Hay muchos factores que determinan el valor de un libro.
Los libros más antiguos son los que más dinero valen.
El estado de conservación de un libro no influye en su valor.
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