Celebrating the Festivals
I have spent the last several weeks sending numerous e-mails and making a few phone calls as I update my database of book festivals and fairs for 2013. Doing this gives me a good sense of how they are, as a group, doing. And I have to say it’s not as discouraging as I had feared.
The difficult economy is taking a toll on nearly everyone. This is especially true of organizations that are not designed to produce income. And book festivals fall under that banner. Most of them have sponsors like newspapers (also in trouble), bookstores (the closure of Borders was a major loss to festivals everywhere), local businesses, and other organizations that support reading. Their costs are heavy—location, insurance, author costs, advertising, staff—and they do not take in anywhere near enough from vendor fees to cover them.
Some have simply faced reality and shut down, hoping to come back in a year or two. Others have just disappeared. I hate it when I have to delete a festival from my database because I know it’s a fairly good bet it won’t be back.
But even despite that, I currently have 175 American book fairs and festivals showing as active. The numbers wouldn’t be quite that cheerful if I didn’t include antiquarian book fairs among them, but still I am pleased at the results:
Out of these 175 festivals, eighty-two are general book festivals suitable for readers of all ages and preferences. Ten are geared especially to children or children’s books; three are devoted to poetry; two are unusually large and interesting used book fairs; eleven are fan conventions (six focus on mysteries, one on feminist science fiction, four are to meet authors and share an enjoyable weekend vacation); forty-five are antiquarian and paper fairs; five are one-night social events called LitCrawls, one, LitQuake, lasts a full week. Then there are the specialty fairs: the two Anarchist book fairs, the eight author-specific festivals, the three pulp conventions, the two foreign literature festivals, the one Spanish-language festivals in two different states, and the one book-focused conventions.
Those eighty-two general festivals, which are the most expensive to run, are primarily centered in Florida with eight; California with six; Wisconsin with five; Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas with four; and Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia with three. States with two general festivals are: Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
What this work has shown to me is that book fairs are not dying. However, they are not especially healthy. The general ones operate on razor-thin margins since they do not charge attendees. As we head into the biggest three months of the year for book festivals—September, October, November—I want to encourage all of BiblioBuffet’s readers to attend any of them that you can. Buy books there. Support the publishers and booksellers and authors who show up to share their books with you. Sure, you can buy those same books online for less. And in this economically stressful time you may want to allocate most of your book dollars there. But consider what you are getting for your money, and what will happen if more fairs have to shut down. To lose what has become so important in getting the word out about reading and about new books would be a severe loss for all of us. Don’t let it happen in your state. Attend, buy, and have a great day!
Upcoming Book Festivals and Fairs:
Location: Hartford, Connecticut
What I am Reading This Week:
The Pub House:
One would naturally expect to find lots of cookbooks in a publishing house like this, and so it proves. The Cookbooks page features rom Polish Touches: Recipes and Traditions, Polish Americans Coast to Coast to Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-Day Buns and Other Reminiscences (and you can even find some free recipes scattered here and there). For something most of us rarely run across try the Icelandic page with two cookbooks and one of Norse mythology. And on the Recent Releases page, you will find an excellent collection of books that cover many of the categories including Finnish Short Stories, something different that introduces some of the country’s classic writers.
Imaging Books & Reading:
Shelf Unbound book review magazine, a free digital publication reaches more than 125,000 subscribers, is holding the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book. Any book in any genre is eligible for entry and the fee is only $10 per book. To enter, e-mail a PDF of your entire book, including the cover, to Margaret [at] shelfmediagroup.com. The subject line should read “Contest Entry.” Send the check to
Judging is done by the editors of Shelf Unbound. The top five books will receive editorial coverage in the December 12/January 13 issue. The top winner will also receive a year’s worth of full-page ads in the publication. The deadline is October 1, 2012. For further information, see their contest rules page.
Until next week, read well, read often and read on!