The Best Thing about Book Fairs

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal


Have you ever been to a book fair or festival or fest? If so, what did you think was the very best thing about the experience? Was it the books? Oh, we do love our books and that’s what is hardest for me at book festivals. I want to buy sackfuls of books when actually I already have sackfuls of books in my to read stack. But you know of course, that I bought some more to add to my collection and wish I’d bought a couple more before I headed home. I don’t know when I would have had time to read them or where I would have put them – my bookshelves are overflowing now – but I would have had them. So without books, there would be no reason for a book festival. 

Here I am with author, Travis Thrasher after buying one of his books. Travis has piles and piles of books. All with beautiful covers and enticing stories that make readers anxious to pick one of his books up to carry it home. Besides he’s such fun to talk to. That’s another of those very best things about a book festival. Getting to talk to the writers who penned or keyed in that favorite story! Getting to know what’s going on with other writers. Travis had a busy year. His wife gave birth to twin girls who are now seven months old. They also have a four year old girl. So what did Travis do? He wrote four books last year. That’s getting it done. I think he must have given up sleep.

Then I met and talked to and got my picture with Jean Auel of The Clan of the Cave Bear fame. Posted that picture on Facebook right away. She has a new book out that was an instant number one bestseller all over the world. She said it took her fourteen years to write it. Everybody writes differently. Everybody tells a different story in a different way.

Then there are the readers you meet. They have to be one of the very best things about a book festival. It’s such fun to have a reader come by and say they’ve read all my books or they love my books or they have a sister/friend/mother/grandmother who loves my books. I sometimes want to tell them that they might like the story too if they’d give it a chance, but I don’t. I smile and act pleased. Well, I don’t have to act. I am pleased. I like grandmas and mothers and sisters and friends.

Now and again, a librarian will come by and say my books are in demand at their library or off their bookmobile. I love libraries and the people who work there, so that’s another best thing. Of course one of the best fun things is seeing the babies. Babies who will be getting a book and loving the crackly sound of the pages when they try to put it in their mouths. And little kids and not so little kids. All there looking for a book to read. Another Harry Potter book or a Lightning Thief. And sometimes they find one. Once a long time ago at a different book fest and while I was writing Young Adult novels, a girl bought one of my books, went and found a reading nook and came back around before the end of the day to tell me she’d finished the book and liked it. I still sort of remember what she looked like. I was just happy she wasn’t coming back to my table to make a return. So readers are fun. No book fest can succeed without readers.

And volunteers. Those people who give up a day or two of their lives to unpack books and pack them back up if they don’t sell. Those people who make the panel presentations work. Those people who bring you lunch or a drink of tea or water to help you keep your smile going. And that doesn’t even take into account the organizers and people on the book fest committee who must make the hard decisions about who to invite and where to let them sit. I saw the main lady in charge of the book fest last Saturday as I was leaving. She was still smiling. She’d probably heard a few dozen complaints and handled even more problems throughout the day, but she was smiling. Maybe because the day was over and all us authors were on the way out the door. 🙂

So the very best thing about Book Festivals is that they celebrate books and give you a chance to rub shoulders with readers and writers and let you carry home some great reading material. So do you like to go to book festivals? For sure, I enjoy being on the writer’s side of the table. And I always carry home some books too – in spite of my groaning bookshelves.