Chile enjoys fortnight of literature with secondhand book fair

An exhibition of photos and first editions of Nicanor Parra’s work are among the attractions at the 22nd annual Feria del Libro Usado.

There is something magical about leafing through an old book: that worn, treasured feel that reminds you of the countless captivated readers who came before you, the palpable sense of history, and of course that unique smell, a smell of libraries, learning and escapism.

As any avid reader knows, a book is more than just the words that are printed inside, it’s an object full of character and magic in itself. This idea underpins Santiago’s annual secondhand book fair.

Feria del Libro Usado is now in its 22nd year, taking up residency in the pretty art campus of Universidad Mayor in downtown Santiago. Here secondhand book sellers from across the city congregate for several weeks every summer to showcase a huge selection of literature encompassing every genre, style or era you could want.

Horacio Marín, press director at Universidad Mayor, said the fair is a huge success so far, and many have enjoyed the affordable prices of the wide array of books on offer.

“There are deals for books for as low as US$1 and these are being sold every day, it’s a very attractive price,” he told La Tercera.

But Feria del Libro Usado is much more than a search for deals, it’s an opportunity for bookworms and fiction fanatics of all stripes to look for hidden gems, find rare early editions or take home something unexpected.

This year’s event also features a homage to one of Chile’s literary greats: the acclaimed “anti-poet” Nicanor Parra. First editions, personal possessions and photographs are exhibited alongside the fair.

To visit the Feria del Libro Usado — open from 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. all week until Feb. 9 — head to the Universidad Mayor campus on Santo Domingo 711. If you’re traveling by metro, get off at Plaza de Armas and the fair is a five minute walk. Entrance is free.