I have this love/hate relationship with book fairs. On the one hand they’re fantastic places to browse among books, get more stock and maybe meet some fellow book lovers. On the other hand they’re fabulous places to browse among books, pick up kilos of books, stretch my arms and spend too much money. I tend to go to these things with two thoughts in mind: the first is obvious, find more stock; but the second is to add to my already groaning bookshelves. I have far too many books, not all mine, but a fair few are and I don’t need to add to the weight.
I’ll digress for a moment and tell you the story about a library in America which was rebuilt at a massive cost. They put a lot of thought into it, it was a beautiful library and started sinking once they got all the books into it. They forgot to add the weight of the thousands of books in their collection to their calculations when working on their foundations so this fabulous library is sinking into the soil at a small rate each year. I’m not saying this will happen to my house, I’m just digressing and letting you come to your own conclusions.
Coming back to the book fairs, I’ll just get you to imagine a large room such as a church hall and fill it with tables upon tables which are filled to groaning with books, books and more books. Often the prices are very cheap and you can get decent books for a dollar or two, sometimes they’re sold by the inch and sometimes by the weight. At times you can get good bargains near the end and get books by the bag.
Here’s the other kind of book fair. It’s the one the publishing professionals attend and this year it’s in Hong Kong. They have all sorts of events happening there such as story-telling, author led-seminars, book sales and industry exhibits. It’s going to be massive, they’re talking about close to a million people in attendance and this year they’re going to be focussing on the digital market. As you probably know by now ebooks are the in-thing and it looks like they’re here to stay. Isaac Asimov was talking about them in his Foundation series which I read when I was in my teens so the idea has been around for at least 30 years (if you ask I’ll only admit to being 18). There has been a problem getting support for Chinese characters by certain ebook readers but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time before they realise that’s their biggest market and fix this issue.