Thursday November 8, 2007

What's the point of a book fair?

Miami’s Book Fair, one of the largest* in the nation, now in its 24th year, is considered generally a big deal. I’ve never been, and I don’t intend to go this year, unless someone coughs up a compelling reason. It’s not for a lack of love of books — in the last year I’ve finished several novels, a couple of books of essays, and an ass-load of non-fiction books (including Woodward’s 600 page State of Denial). I should be the book fair’s target demographic. But the whole idea strikes me as ass-backwards.

For a fair to make sense, the subject of the fair has to gain something from gathering lots of people with whatever the interest together in close proximity. Star Trek, stamps, ham radio, PHP, international relations, and lobster eating all make great subjects for a fair/convention/conference. But “books”? Books cover everything. You can be a fan of lots of things, but what does it mean to be a “fan of books”? Reading is an inherently solitary activity. It is, essentially, a specific mode of dispensing language. I see nothing that is gained by gathering adherents of a particular mode of language-dispersion together.

There are exactly two types of people for whom a “book fair” makes sense: #1: writers, and #2: book “fetishists.” Baring that, here are some reasons thrown out for why the book fair is great:

  1. You get to meet lots of authors. I’d suggest spending the time reading more. The whole reason someone wrote a book is that they took their best thinking and put it down in words. Do they have other interesting things to say? Maybe so, but if they’re a halfway decent author, their best thinking is in their books. If an author you particularly admire happens to be at the fair, it makes sense to go. But the author of a book you enjoyed? Would it be better reading another great book, or hearing “the story behind” the first one?
  2. You discover books you’d otherwise never see. Spare me. This is the fucking internet. Over here is Google book search, and there is the New York Times book review, which allows you to see any book review published in the last 100+ years. That’s two websites out of several million on the web. And you’re going to tell me that a fair is a good place to find a good book? Is your age higher then your room temperature?
  3. You’ll meet other book lovers. I don’t want to meet book lovers. I may possibly have some interest in meeting people who have interests similar to mine, but insofar as books cover every topic known to man, this is no more likely to happen at a book fair then at Starbucks.
  4. It increases literacy/awareness of books. No. Nobody wanders randomly into the book fair (ESPECIALLY NOW THAT THEY CHARGE ADMISSION) and suddenly realizes what books have to offer. And, nobody says “I heard about this big book fair happening, let me go check that out” and suddenly becomes a big reader.

The fair is probably great as an industry get-together, similar to what lots of industries have. It’s terrific for would-be writers, and for those who get a warm fuzzy feeling when they hold that special book in their hand and flip through those beautiful pages. But for anyone who’s interest in books doesn’t extend beyond the words, sentences, paragraphs, knowledge, ideas, and perspectives they contain, what is there to be gained from a “fair”?

* Or the largest?

Update: Thanks to Steve for helping me hash out some of these ideas a little bit. Obviously they’re not hashed out adequately by any stretch, so, to answer robotkid, yes: I’m fishing for someone to convince me that I’m wrong.

Update: Ha ha — the book fair build a new website, but to see what’s actually going on, you go to this page and download a 16 megabyte PDF. Nice work guys. Also, your navigation is all in graphics (with no Alt tags!), so it’s invisible to screen readers and search engines. That’s ok, right — the visually impaired don’t use books, do they? MKH still has plenty to be embarrassed about.

Update: Sweet Jesus — I just opened the PDF and it turns out to be graphical reproductions of the fair’s program — again with no machine-readable text. Barely human-readable, in fact.

Update: I just spent 20 minutes surfing the site and PDF looking for the answer to ONE question — is the fair charging admission like they started last year? — and couldn’t find the answer.

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  1. robotkid    Thu Nov 8, 10:17 PM #  

    hmm…sounds like u r fishing for comments, if u dont like it that’s fine…its ur blog and ur opinion ;)



  2. dreaming    Thu Nov 8, 10:44 PM #  

    i wd tend to agree that the book fair is less than meets the eye. authors are not rock stars, after all. i really don’t need to ‘see’ the writer of a book.

    in fact, the only thing i would less like to do than attend an admission-charged book fair is attend a ‘reading’ by an author. zzzzz.

    they are writers, not actors. as such, they haven’t a clue how to ‘perform’ whatever it is they have written.

    however, my rantings won’t stop book fairs or readings. to each, his/her own.



  3. alesh    Thu Nov 8, 11:13 PM #  

    robotkid~ added an update just for you.

    dreaming~ my post was informed in part by thinking just like yours, and a particular interview I heard with an author awhile back where he was falling over himself apologizing for not being interesting enough…

    I went to see Bret Easton Ellis talk once. It was interesting enough, and there’s a list of 5-10 authors that I’d go see in a heartbeat if they were speaking at the fair, because I have a really special interest in their work. But for anyone else, wouldn’t I be better off spending that time reading their books?

    But let’s say you’re odd, and you particularly enjoy hearing authors speak about their work — you enjoy the meta-writing, as it were — wouldn’t you be better off trolling, say Diane Rehm’s archives (just to pick one example), then some random book fair?



  4. Franklin    Fri Nov 9, 01:09 AM #  

    I saw Will Eisner at the Miami Book Fair only a year or two before he died. Dan Savage gave a great talk the same year. Good new books are often steeply discounted, good used books can be had, and then there’s the signings. Because of the MBF I have a signed copy of Eisner’s Fagin the Jew, and a signed copy of The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin. It’s really the only major intellectual event on the city’s calendar. Go one time.



  5. Edwin Sirman    Fri Nov 9, 07:10 AM #  

    I consider myself a bibliophile. Even though I grew up in Miami I only attended the Miami Book Fair once, last year, and I was only able to spend time walking around the vendor’s booths. I tried to look up the schedule of author’s talks, but my attendance was rather last-minute and, sadly, it was rather frustrated trying to figure it out. I recently moved from Austin, Texas, home to one of the largest book fairs after Miami and LA.

    I attended the Texas Book Festival for two years, with surprising results. Two years ago I made the effort to hear only one author’s interview, Salman Rushdie (I made it to the front of the auditorium too). He’s a formidable speaker, and among topics, he spoke about how the Tsunami affected his home on the eastern shore of India, and areas devastated along the coast. He also gave a rich picture in explaining how Muslim fundamentalism has trumped moderates around Pakistan over the last couple decades, with a sense of deep understanding that I’ve rarely heard before or since.

    The following year I decided I would take advantage of the author’s talks more seriously, and I invested the weekend into exploring as many of the discussions as I could, just to see what I stumbled upon solely based upon the description of the talk. One ivy league economist gave a good, yet unmemorable lecture. Another lecture blew me away and bore into my memory. The book is called Three Cups of Tea. The author, Greg Mortenson, an American, has been living in Afghanistan for over 15 years, with the sole mission of building secular schools in the remotest areas of Afghanistan to educate boys and girls. His efforts have allowed remote villages that would otherwise become targets for fundamentalist madrases that basically only educate boys into the extremist position, and keep girls from education all together. His advocacy of women’s education is part of a larger, validated movement for richer countries to invest in primary education in desperate areas to prevent the type of fundamentalist insanity that puts the world on edge. He’s just the guy on the ground making it happen, and this pre-dates 9/11 by a decade.

    I love the surprise, and thematic presence, a book fair can provide. Books can be documents and memoirs from individuals. It’s not that this information is unavailable, but if you’re engaging with someone that’s really living this experience in another part of the world it can open the eyes that much wider. And, if the author is an adept speaker on top of that the experience goes further than the book itself.

    Personally, I don’t read as much fiction as I used to, but I’ve expanded into a larger variety of topics. Every year there are hundreds of published books, and my time to read leisurely is getting sparse. And considering that dozens of books I’ve read seem to be outside the mainstream radar of the critical engine it makes me wonder about the state of criticism on the larger scale. Look, there’s plenty of crap, pulp, and cheap paper at a book festival. But you’ve got to have a bit of a thrift-store frame of mind; faith that someone out there has a gem that resonates with you. But, you’ve got to actually attend to see if it’s in Miami or not.



  6. A Friend    Fri Nov 9, 08:34 AM #  

    You should go because it is fun! There are lots of booths with wacky used books and there are also roasted nut vendors, which you can only get at fairs in Miami.

    If both of those rather goofy reasons do not convince you, then you should go simply because you’re starting to sound like a typical internet crank, making pronouncements based on personal opinion and a displaying an obvious lack of information or experience. Don’t let it happen to you! I’m sure you can stop the transformation; it’s not too late.

    Granted, the bookfair PDF and webiste could be responsible for your lack of information, but you’ve NEVER BEEN and you’re smacking the book fair around? What kind of cred would you grant a random blowhard under the same circumstances?



  7. mkh    Fri Nov 9, 08:35 AM #  

    Alesh, regarding your point 2: Ever heard of serendipity? The primary failure of cataloging systems is that you have to know what you are looking for before you can go and find it. Sure, I can browse through the Book Review archives if I want, but I see going to the Fair as the same thing in a public setting.

    Two years ago, if memory serves, I attended a godawful early Sunday morning discussion by science writers. One had written a book on the science of hurricanes, one wrote a lovely book about the planets, and one about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The last author, Simon Winchester, was a marvelous speaker who brought fresh insight to the weeks-old Katrina disaster. I had basically wandered in to get out of the humidity, and left enlightened (and laden with new books).

    Fairs aren’t for everyone, and I admit that the more curmudgeonly folks won’t find it to their taste. But those willing to give it a chance and see who a little randomness might bring onto their reading table will be pleased.

    Aside one: Their site is an embarrassment and a disaster, and I’ve spoken with Mitchell Kaplan about it before. I always dread needing to go there; it’s a huge missed opportunity.

    Aside two: I was at that Eisner appearance, too, Franklin, and have my own signed copies of Fagin The Jew. It’s a shame how few people were in attendance. Eisner never received the wide recognition he deserved. It’s more than a little ironic that his choice of medium — one he largely created! — kept him in a literary ghetto.



  8. mkh    Fri Nov 9, 08:41 AM #  

    Oh, as to the size of the fair, unless something new has sprung up this year, this is the largest in the US, and second largest in the world, after a German fair (Essen? Maybe).



  9. CL Jahn    Fri Nov 9, 08:52 AM #  

    Yeah, it’s a pretty lousy website.

    But The Rock Bottom Remainders are playing! Not many chances to listen to the Rock Bottom Remainders play.



  10. mkh    Fri Nov 9, 09:07 AM #  

    Ah, but CL! You can buy a CD to hear them play any time you like! Thrill to the sounds of famous writers embarrassing themselves in the privacy of your own home by ordering your copy of Stranger Than Fiction now!



  11. Steve    Fri Nov 9, 09:07 AM #  

    CL: I think they’re playing Tobacco Road this weekend, in fact.

    Alesh: As we discussed yesterday, until you actually rise from your buttocks and visit the fair, there’s quite little to say that might mean anything.

    Personally, I enjoy the hell out of book fairs in part because it’s sensually pleasurable to see, feel, smell, and just stand among so many books in one place. You may call this fetishistic if you like (I’ve been called worse). As wonderful as it is to peruse my favorite authors’ works on websites, nothing compares to pawing through a pile of 3-dimensional works IRL and browsing the pages.

    And mkh’s point about serendipity is dead on target. I’ve attended fairs and wandered into stores with nothing particular in mind, and staggered out loaded down with stuff I never heard of but so totally enticing I couldn’t resist.

    That noted, like everything else, book fairs aren’t for everybody. You wouldn’t catch me dead at an auto race or a college football contest, by millions build their lives around them. Think we’d be a different culture if book fairs attracted that kind of following?



  12. alesh    Fri Nov 9, 09:09 AM #  

    To all~ I’ll go when one of the few authors that I particularly love is speaking, and I’m sure I’ll stay and I won’t think it was a waste of time. But for this year I’m going to find something better to do with my $5. Being out in the world is for DOING things, not for discovering things to do while sitting at home.

    Franklin~ The signed books would be the fetishism I was talking about. Not interested.

    Edwin~ Book TV, Ted Talks, Lectures @ Google . . . all provide the same opportunity, except that you can tune in to EXACTLY What you want to see, and shut it off if it gets boring.

    Friend~ Roasted nuts? Yeah, THERE’s a reason to go.

    MKH~ I’m with Steven Berlin Johnson on the serendipity thing — i can get it better elsewhere.

    CL~ If the RBR are your thing, I’d think Tobacco Road’s 95th anniversary (tonight!) would be a much better venue to see them at. That’s just me.



  13. Steve    Fri Nov 9, 09:53 AM #  

    Being out in the world is for DOING things, not for discovering things to do while sitting at home.

    This rivals your “truth that throws some meat to the dogs” for sheer unintelligibilizationism.



  14. l'elk!    Fri Nov 9, 10:12 AM #  

    i go to the book fair ever year and i think i’ve only bought a book once. im very particular about the subjects i read and i like to spend the time to research the best possible option’s before i make any purchases. i do enjoy seeing all the old obscure books some of the collectors have but they are ridiculously over-priced. you’d have better luck buying one on ebay or from a garage sale.



  15. dreaming    Fri Nov 9, 10:14 AM #  

    …..personally, I enjoy the hell out of book fairs in part because it’s sensually pleasurable to see, feel, smell, and just stand among so many books in one place. You may call this fetishistic if you like (I’ve been called worse). As wonderful as it is to peruse my favorite authors’ works on websites, nothing compares to pawing through a pile of 3-dimensional works IRL and browsing the pages……

    and this is different from hanging out at, ahem, what we call a ‘library’ and/or borders/barnes&noble/books&books….exactly how? aside from the fact that you evidently have to pay to get in and pay to park before you get in?



  16. Chris    Fri Nov 9, 10:17 AM #  

    If anything, it is a chance to come out into the community, enjoy the incredible weather, and while you are at, browse some books for sale.



  17. mkh    Fri Nov 9, 10:23 AM #  

    You know “better” is a subjective qualitative assessment, Alesh. How do you know you can find a “better” source of serendipity until you try this one? Johnson isn’t wrong, in that the web can be a marvelous source of serendipity, but why the insistence that it is the only viable source? Why limit yourself?

    Do you ever go to bookstores or record stores, Alesh, or do you use Amazon and iTunes exclusively? You you hang out with friends and catch up, or do you obsess over Twitter/Pownce/Utterz/whatever? Do you sit in front of your webcam and drink while chatting with friends across town about your day?

    I love the web. At this point there are more bits than blood in my veins. Still, the real world has more to offer than just a photo opportunity for Flickr. One of the things it can offer is serendipity.



  18. dana    Fri Nov 9, 10:53 AM #  

    people dress up in furry animal suits. i met my roommate as a reading dog before we went to college in sarasota together.

    worth it



  19. alesh    Fri Nov 9, 11:53 AM #  

    Steve~ Yes, getting out and DOING something. Personally, I’ll be at the Fushu Daiko show, for example.

    mkh~ I don’t limit myself. I get subjected to serendipity at the book store and the library. It’s not bad, but by good-find ratio is much better on the internet. Also: trying to determine whether a book is good by picking it up and flipping through it and reading a couple of passages is an exercise in frustration for me. I’d much rather hear (or read) from someone who’s read it.

    dana~ That’s actually the best reason I can think of for going — the possibility of meeting interesting people, and the spectacle aspect. A similar argument could be deployed for the attraction of Steve’s proverbial auto races and college football games, but your point is well taken.



  20. A Friend    Fri Nov 9, 12:05 PM #  

    People in animal costumes are a better reason to go than roasted nuts? Whaaaaa??



  21. Lolo    Fri Nov 9, 01:57 PM #  

    Of all the things for a literary person to grumble about in Miami, is the Book Fair really one of them? It’s a homegrown cultural institution that’s gained worldwide recognition and at the very, very least gets locals talking about books and perhaps even reading them.

    Why you go is the same reason people still come to Sweat Records even though Amazon.com has infinitely more music – it’s fun, it’s colorful, it’s local, it’s something different from the norm, and there’s way too much norm around.

    I’ve gone to the Book Fair countless times since I was a little kid and every year have come away pleased as punch to have put down my $5 for the cause. $5 is half a drink at most clubs and nothing to complain about at all for a day out, especially when say, weak stuff like Santa’s Enchanted Forest is $21.96, Parrot Jungle is $27.95, and the Seaquarium is $29.95, not including tax of course…

    Besides, the weather is freaking beautiful, go to the Book Fair!



  22. mkh    Fri Nov 9, 05:42 PM #  

    I’d much rather hear (or read) from someone who’s read it.

    As opposed to speaking with the person who wrote it, and having a conversation with a room full of people who’ve read it?

    Hey, it don’t make me no nevermind if you don’t want to go, Alesh. It just seemed an odd topic for a rant on a culture blog. Discouraging people from supporting the literary community in South Florida just seems like a poor choice of targets. The organization and execution of the event are fair game, as is the selection of authors, but its very existence? Odd.



  23. C L Jahn    Sat Nov 10, 10:03 AM #  

    mkh-
    listening to a cd instead of a live concert is sort of like having sex with a magazine instead of a woman. Sure, you can get off on both, but nothing beats the real thing.

    Steve-
    Just ANOTHER reason to go to Tobacco Road. screw the book fair; Remainders AND booze? That’s a winning combination!



  24. A.T.    Sat Nov 10, 10:14 AM #  

    Alesh: Why then bother attending performances? One could always get the recordings. How about the “live” component that we keep missing. Attending a presentation of a writer you admire (and I’ve seen many through the years) can be pretty rewarding. Try it.



  25. I was there    Sat Nov 10, 10:41 AM #  

    Allen Ginsberg
    Hunter S Thompson
    Ken Kesey
    Art Spielgman

    These are just a few of the authors I’ve met, heard speak and spoken with at the bookfair.

    Ginsberg signed my copy of Howl, Thompson had the audiance in stitches, Ken Kesey invited me out to visit his Creamery in Oregon [and I did]….The book fair has long held a place of high regard in my mind, and I love browsing the Antiquarian Book section.

    Goodbye Norman Mailer



  26. alesh    Sat Nov 10, 10:57 AM #  

    Anonymous Friend~ i SAID the nuts sounded good!!

    Lolo~ Show me, with the $5 admission, a SINGLE local who becomes a regular reader after attending the book fair. The recognition for Miami’s fine, but it’s recognition from the book industry. If I were part of the industry (or an aspiring writer) of course my attitude would be different. I’ll be outside, but I’ll be doing something else.

    MKH~ I’m not attacking the existence of the fair. I’m pointing out why I chose not to attend this year. (btw, you’ve got two different threads about this going with me at once, which is a little confusing, but I’ll answer the artfair comparison over there).

    AT~ The live music comparison is precisely wrong: for music, live is the primary medium, recorded is secondary. For literature, obviously the primary medium is words on a page. I’m not sure a guy talking about his book is even a secondary medium. Attending a presentation by a writer you admire CAN be rewarding. It can also be a drag. I used to be a Bret Easton Ellis fan, and once attended a reading by him at Lincoln B&B. It was sort of lame. Some great authors are also great speakers, but it’s really neither here or there.

    I was there~ For you those guys were writers you particularly admired. As I said, if anyone I felt that way about was at the fair, I’d be there. But the autograph thing is a bit sycophant.



  27. A.T.    Sat Nov 10, 01:16 PM #  

    Well, I guess there’s not much else to argue.



  28. christina    Sat Nov 10, 11:38 PM #  

    I’m with Lolo! I went to the book fair for the first time ten years ago and wandered into Adrienne Rich reading from her poems, and she’s since become one of my favorite poets. Until now I’ve loved this blog, and the whole book fair ranting seems strange and disappointing from someone’s whose opinions I’ve otherwise admired and enjoyed reading. sounds personal.



  29. mkh    Sun Nov 11, 09:25 AM #  

    Last comment, Alesh, so you don’t think I’m trying to deliberately confuse you. Your topic title wasn’t “Why I will not attend the Book Fair,” was it? “What’s the point of a book fair?” as a title, and your explanation of why (in your opinion) fairs don’t make sense, sounds less like a personal choice than questioning their very existence. If I somehow misinterpreted your words, I apologize.



  30. A Friend    Sun Nov 11, 11:48 AM #  

    Oh, okay. Phew! I mean, I thought you were going crazy.

    So, Mr. Public Figure (that means you, Alesh), seeing as how you have disappointed your audience, maybe even shocked them with your naysaying attitude, do you suppose a public apology, or some sort of recanting is in order? You know, so that we can trust you again . . .

    [It’s become pretty obvious, hasn’t it, that yours is the bookfair-going audience and not the autoshow-going audience—I mean, haha! “Steroidal lifeless American ass”! What a kneeslapper! Whew, the funny.]



  31. alesh    Sun Nov 11, 03:48 PM #  

    mkh~

    I see your point… I guess it was intended to be a little of both, but I sure wasn’t trying to irritate anyone. The idea was, ‘I don’t get it with this book fair concept, can somebody explain it to me?’

    Many have tried, and have done a pretty good job of summing up all that’s good about the book fair. Maybe not enough to convince me to go, but close. Maybe I’ll go next year and have a great time.

    “Friend”~

    Public apology for what? Thinking going to the fair is a waste of time? Even if I’m wrong I don’t see how I can apologize for thinking it. (And, show of hands, how many of the pro-fairers here actually went?) I’m not inciting violence here, or even telling anyone else they shouldn’t go to the fair.

    Also, I think you’re confusing disagreement with disappointment. Are you disappointed when you don’t agree with 100% of what I think?



  32. crumbs    Sun Nov 11, 09:40 PM #  

    So, I thought you were being a little silly for not thinking the book fair would be enjoyable, but then I rethought my own reasons I enjoy the book fair:
    1. People watching
    2. Free Starbucks samples – you just have to wait until there is a crowd and then they don’t notice that you’ve taken enough to equal a venti.
    3. The table of college literary journals where it’s $2 for one or $5 for as many as you could carry without a bag.
    4. My son really digs the walking & wandering Clifford the Big Red Dog.
    5. We get to ride the Metrorail & movers.

    I guess I just like fairs. But number 3 was pretty cool.



  33. Rick    Sun Nov 11, 10:32 PM #  

    I’m not inciting violence here, or even telling anyone else they shouldn’t go to the fair.

    No, you’re simply telling them why their opinion for liking the book fair is wrong.

    Why should anyone take offense at that?

    .



  34. alesh    Mon Nov 12, 06:43 AM #  

    Crumbs~

    That’s a pretty great list. I’m not sure what “the walking & wandering Clifford the Big Red Dog” is, but I get the feeling the pleasure is entirely analogous to going to the Swap Shop. #3 is sort of like “buying stuff you don’t need and will probably never use because it’s cheap sort of cool.” I could actually dig it from that perspective, although the “only major intellectual event in a cultural wasteland” stuff makes that a bit difficult. Still, thanks for sharing.



  35. Philistine    Mon Nov 12, 10:42 AM #  

    “I’ve never been, and I don’t intend to go this year.” But that won’t stop you from saying all the things you know about it. Nothing like knowing with out experience. That pretty rampant these days.



  36. alesh    Mon Nov 12, 11:09 AM #  

    Not as rampant as posting a comment without reading the preceding conversation though, eh?

    So, does anybody have pictures or stories from the fair?



  37. mkh    Mon Nov 12, 01:59 PM #  

    I should have some stories tomorrow. Last night’s Fanless and Maria/Manola birthday celebration has delayed things a bit.



  38. Brad-A    Mon Nov 12, 03:14 PM #  

    Why go the reasons are numerous. Sure you can read reviews all over the place but will that open you up to new or niche books you didn’t know existed. Not unless you search endlessly.

    If book reading is such a solitary activity why are there so many book clubs?

    Some of the stands actually had the author or publisher there and the can give you deeper insight into a book giving you a deeper connection.

    Also the event had a lot of other cultural activities live bands and such.

    On of the stands that stood out in a cool way for me was the group of published authors from Miami Dade college. it gives you more insight into what locals are writing about and studying.

    I think this critic may have been worth while if he had gone and had more legitimate criticism.



  39. Gus    Mon Nov 12, 04:36 PM #  

    “So, does anybody have pictures or stories from the fair?

    Here’s a few pics, Alesh.

    I don’t have any stories, but I got some advice: never pick a fight with a bookworm — they’ll just keep writing and writing and eventually wear you out ;)

    I commend you for holding your ground for as long as you have.



  40. theCardinal    Mon Nov 12, 09:13 PM #  

    You make good arguments but I disagree on several points.

    1. Meeting authors is a crapshoot. Some actually provide perspective into the process and the works they are promoting but many rehash what is already in their book. So if meeting writers isn’t your thing then fine.

    2. Discovering books…it really does happen. Yes in the age of the internet you can find anything but you don’t stumble upon something like you would in a bookstore or a library. At the bookfair I’ve gone to see one author who happens to be paired up with another and next thing I know I pick up something that had not even remotely interested me before. There are also incredible deals – used books are aplenty and I’ve had publishers literally throw books in my bag as they closed down.

    3. I hate other dorks like me so I keep the iPod on while walking the streets. It’s not that I’m afraid of meeting new people I’m afraid of socializing with the people I know that are definitely there.

    4.It only works if you have kids and you drag them along. My son was ambivalent at first but ended up costing me an arm and a leg as the day progressed…and he’s 3.

    As for the entrance fee – it is necessary. When it was free it was virtually impossible to see the exhibitors. It was uncomfortable to the point that it wasn’t worth it to go. The $5 fee for anyone over 18 is fair and thins out the crowd…even though you still have to fight through certain crowds. I was opposed at first but it turned out to be a marvelous idea. I also think that this is the third not the second year that they do that.

    Seriously I didn’t go to the fair until 5 years ago and I was totally skeptical…I was wrong. Go early in the morning before the crowds do your thing and leave.



  41. DT    Mon Nov 12, 11:55 PM #  

    Book Fair Alternatives:

    Tea Fair
    Politician Fair
    Alternative Medicine Fair (don’t bring your prescription drugs)
    Coffee Fair
    Share Fair

    Even with these fair alternatives, fairs are too specific and dumbed down,….something that the web and blogs provide solutions to. A Book Blog? That’s a hundred times better than some fucking book fair. This is a good alternative:
    http://www.shelfari.com/

    any books that you would recommend, Alesh?



  42. A Friend    Tue Nov 13, 09:12 AM #  

    Well, since comment #28 introduced the word “diappointed”, I figured you’d know I was referring to actual disappointment, not disagreement. I also figured that you’d have comprehended by now that you are an admired public figure and that your readers are reacting with a certain amount of shock which stems not so much from the fact of your opinion, but your attitude surrounding it, which could gently be described as pigheaded. And a little defensive.

    I’m not confusing disappointment with disagreement, but I have in the past confused my casual opinions with deeper convictions, and it has tended to be when I felt that I was being pushed after expressing my opinion. I’ve discovered that I don’t have to vehemently defend everything I casually state.

    You don’t have to accept my advice, or even take it seriously. Instead of separating the attitude from the position (and possibly apologizing for one of them—guess which!), another course of action could be to act both indignant and a smidge righteous.

    It could work.

    Looking ahead, what about the Fairchild Ramble? A bit pricey, but hot damn do I want to buy a bunch of weird plants!