Monday, October 12, 2015

Trade Show Weekend

Tired.  Even though I spent the weekend surrounded by writers, publishers, vendors and books, I read nothing - nothing except trade information.  You see, I forced myself to travel.  Yup.  I went to our regional trade show and came home with boxes of books to be inventoried, and catalogues to be filed.

This trade show is for book sellers in Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois Ohio,Wisconsin and maybe a few more.   Over 600 vendors were on hand to showcase what will be new in 2016.  Seminars and break-out sessions covered a wealth of topics including making diversity a priority on our stores, customer service and maintaining sanity in an industry filled with surprises and quick changes.  

Of course, everyone wants to rub shoulders with the writers in attendance.  Truth?  These writers are rock stars but not like the rock stars who disguise themselves in order to slip into a waiting limo after a show. These are not elitist rock stars who walk the gauntlet of waiting fans stopping to indulge one or two for a selfie or an illegible autograph.  Writers deal with words and they eagerly share those words in books, on FB, through tweets and in face to face chatter.  In fact, at times I found myself dodging a couple  writers who wanted to talk,  so that I could sit, gather my thoughts and map out a plan for the next couple hours.

This is how it works.  There is an event called "A Movable Feast" attended by over 50 authors.  Booksellers find a table, grab a beverage and meet with writers who  circulate around the room.  Sure, they tell us about the current book they are promoting, but they also pick our brains on what is selling, what we would like to see more or less of, and they drop hints about their next project.   What surprised me most was the number of writers who looked at my badge and pronounced "Manitowoc" correctly.  What surprised me even more was how many had connections to our city - some through relatives, friends, and one even had a college roommate from here.  And, it turns out, the roommate is a customer of ours.  Small world file!  

All of that is tons of fun, of course.  When the trade show floor opens we meet with the 600+ vendors hoping we will find just what we need for the holidays.  Many writers hang around for that day as well, visiting in their publisher's booths for long periods of time, wandering the sales floor and hanging out near the coffee having a few laughs with other writers and booksellers.

On Saturday night I stopped by to watch a highly competitive game of literary trivia and got pulled onto a team that was one person short.  Teams were made up of a random collection of writers, publishers, vendors and booksellers.  The winning team was gifted the responsibility of planning the trivia contest for next year's trade show.  My team didn't win - but we came darn close.  I still think we should have won.  The question that did us in referred to F. Scott Fitzgerald's story of the Jazz Age.  To me that could only mean The Great Gatsby.  Apparently, the second half of the question alluded to Tender is the Night. Most teams thought as we did, but we were the only team  whose incorrect answer to that question made the difference between first and second place.   When the contest ended writers began dashing up to the stage, grabbing the mic and telling crafty word-centric jokes.  Some were right down blue (the jokes, not the writers). This unscheduled event  proved so popular that surely next year's program will include a line that reads "Dirty Joke Open Mic at 10:00".

So, had you been there, who might you have had coffee with?  David Baldacci, Jacque Mitchard, Mike Perry, Ethan Canin (The Doubter's Almanac), Mary Doria Russells (Epitaph), Loren Long (Otis books series for kids), Rick Bass, Kathleen Ernst, Jacqueline Kelly (Clapurnia Tate books for middle readers) Rick March (Wisconin books featured on public television), B.A. Shapiro (The Muralist), Faith Sullivan (Goodnight Mr. Wodehouse), David Maraniss (When Pride Still Mattered, Once in a Great city:ADetroit Story), Rob Blagojevich's brother (sales of his book will go his bro's defense)...  on and on.

So no...enough.. I have boxes of books to attend to...and to read...and to love.  
Thanks for stopping by.

What will I read next?  Who know?