Books old and new are on sale at FILEY. One trader is bookseller Ignacio Olguin, who specializes in valuable older volumes. Photo: Facebook

Mérida, Yucatán – The massive nine-day book fair at the Siglo XXI convention center, expected to exceed its projected 100,000 visitors, has grown to become one of Mexico’s “urban traditions.”

That’s the judgment on FILEY in its sixth year, given by the EFE international wire service.

The celebration of both authors and readers is a convention with exhibits, workshops and activities from March 11-19. Although it is past the halfway point, there is still time to visit, and tickets are free.

In fact, for English-language readers, Thursday brings a first to FILEY. A panel of three expat writers living in Mérida will discuss their works. 

Marianne Kehoe, Linda Lindholm and Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado will participate in a bilingual panel, “Intercultural Writers in Yucatán – Escritoras Interculturales en Yucatán,” moderated by Dr. Michael K. Schuessler at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 16 in the Salon Uxmal 5.

It’s not just new books and living writers in the spotlight.

“I had a book that was signed by (Leon) Trotsky for President (Lazaro) Cardenas,” said Mexican bookseller Ignacio Olguin, 60.

“It’s like finding a golden nugget in the mud,” he said, describing his 20 years as an antiquarian in the publishing world.

Among Olguin’s best sales was a first edition signed by Mexican poet Octavio Paz, who was Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1990.

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).

Olguin left his bookstore in Guadalajara to set up shop this week with a stock of 6,000 titles at the Old and Used Books section of the fair.

Another kiosk offered a book about Christopher Columbus. It had a wooden binding that is more than 30 years old. Also, a 1948 first edition of “Canek” by the Mexican writer, essayist and playwright Ermilo Abreu Gomez (1894-1971), which EFA says looks somewhat the worse for wear.

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