The inaugural New York Book Show was held in 1985 at the 200 Club in the Toy Building at 200 Fifth Avenue. In 2004, when the 200 Club was sold, we moved to Café St. Bart’s at St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue and Fifty-first Street. In 2007, the Show moved to the Manhattan Center. Since 2016, we’ve held our showcase at Battery Gardens in lower Manhattan. As of 2020, we’re currently seeking a venue!

The first Show’s catalog debuted in 1988—an eighty-page softcover book with black-and-white photos and descriptions of each winning entry. The 1999 catalog was the first to be printed entirely in four color; it was so beautiful that its printer, Worzalla, won an award for it in the Gallery of Superb Printing competition. The first promotional poster and its subsequent catalog cover illustrated the act of reading as the culmination of the book publishing and manufacturing processes.

In 1990, Jessica A. Kirchoff designed the our logo—the New York skyline rising from an open book. In 2010, it was digitally redrawn by Jacqui Hudson. Zachary Lutz created a simplified version of this same logo in 2017.

From 1985 to 1996, the Show was held in the fall. In 1997, the guild decided to move the Show to the spring to coincide with the Publishing Business Conference & Expo (formerly Book Tech, discontinued in 2014.) Since the previous show was in November 1996, the next book show was scheduled for spring 1998. This explains why 2020—even though our first active year was 1985—is our 34th Annual Show, not our 35th.

From 1989 to 1996, submissions were judged at the Lehigh Press offices in downtown Manhattan. A steady increase in the number of submissions came to a head when in 1997, four separate locations were needed to adequately receive, display, and judge the physical books. Lehigh Press, Lindenmeyr, Quebecor, and R R Donnelley generously allowed their New York City offices to be used. After that, the 200 Club was the venue for submissions week and judging day. When the club closed in 2004, Random House donated the use of its conference rooms to store the submissions and to host judging in 2005.

The largest number of submissions in the Show’s history was 1,200 in 1998; the second largest number was 1,000 in 2001; and the third largest, 900, was in 2009. In the last five years, we’ve received on average 500 submissions.