Book Expo – not a bookshop

Be warned, this is definitely a rant and a rave, I promise to totally lose my top here.

You might remember I was booked in to be a panellist at the Book Expo in Sydney this weekend. I was excited R Us. I’d worked really hard last weekend to get on top of my uni assignments and was on track to finish them last night just in time to drive out early this morning. I had a billet and was planning on picking up enough stuff to sink a battleship, or at least fill the back seat of my car. I had made lots of plans for photos of people, of books and whatever else there was. I even had plans to interview authors and support personnel. My Youtube channel was going to be bursting, Instagram and other social media outlets would have groaned under the weight of all my output and I probably would have gone over my gigabyte internet allowance. My To Be Read Pile would have grown exponentially as I’d even sorted out some spending money.

What happened?

People didn’t buy tickets. It was cancelled. That age old story, you can’t run something if you don’t sell tickets. I have no idea how the organisers are going to refund money or whatever and I truly hope they’re okay. I’ve been involved in conferences where we thought we wouldn’t break even, we made the decision to go ahead and barely managed to pay all our bills. It would be really hard to make that decision to cancel.

Why didn’t people buy tickets?

Apparently you don’t have to pay to enter a bookshop. Who’d a thunk it! Of course you don’t pay to enter a bookshop. But the Book Expo is not a bookshop!! Yes, you can buy books there but there is so, so much more. When you attend a bookshop it’s rare to find the author available to chat with. When you enter a bookshop it’s rare to hear a poetry reading. When you barge into a bookshop it’s rare to be able to buy food and drinks. When you invade a bookshop you don’t get to talk to publishers and other support personnel.

You certainly don’t get to attend talks by those authors or publishers. So I have no idea why they thought this was a bookshop because it’s anything but. And I’m really annoyed they didn’t look at the website and see how much more than a bookshop it really is.

And this year was going to be bigger and better than last year. This year was the Book Bloggers Conference, the first of its kind! And some lectures on getting published and also breakfasts with various VIPS!

It’s far more like Oz Comic Con or AMCExpo than a bookshop. There’s a Melbourne Anarchist Book Fair, a Rare Book Fair, an Art Book Fair, a Scholastic Book Fair. But I can’t find anything linking them all together. Nothing to link up children’s literature with genre fiction, with non-fiction, with artists, with writers, with publishers and most of all with readers.

This sort of thing doesn’t come cheap and you absolutely need to sell tickets in order to be able to run it. They must have been seriously short on sales in order to cancel three days prior. I really feel for the organisers.

Yes, I’m annoyed. However did you guess? Not a bookshop, mumble, mumble, mumble.

3 thoughts on “Book Expo – not a bookshop

  1. Deborah

    When I first heard about the Australian Book Expo I assumed it was ‘the’ premiere event all booksellers went to in order to hear from publishers about upcoming books and the like.

    Did it used to be more popular? Or has the writing been on the wall? I gathered the big publishers hadn’t been supporting it…

    It’s a sad self-fulfilling prophecy thingy – if people are going then authors and publishers will want to attend; and if big authors and publishers are going, people will want to attend!

    1. mattling

      Was that the advertising that made you think that? Or was it an assumption you made?

      There’s only been two of them. As a reader and blogger I assumed it was for readers who wanted to get to know authors.

      It’s always hard to get something started, especially something like this which might be seen as a niche topic. While reading is more accepted than it used to be when I was young it’s still not really trendy…yet. When I first heard about it I was already considering whether I had the energy to try and organise it myself, the organiser was a few months ahead of me. I see it as an event that is a ‘must’ in Australia and that will happen in time.

      If it’s for booksellers to hear from publishers then it would be a different event to what I imagined but still something we need. They have them all over the world but I’ve never heard of one here.

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