Book Fair Australia 2023

Suzie Eisfelder

I was planning on writing last week. I had it all planned out. Drive from Sydney during the day and then in the evening write for you lot. It was an excellent plan, sadly, my body had different ideas. I was too tired to think. And that leads me nicely to what I did last weekend to make me too tired to think.

I’ve been pushing myself much too hard and felt I needed a full break. Get away from home, by myself, and have some time doing things I love. I’ve had this idea in my head for months and finally I booked everything during August so I couldn’t back out, or change my mind, or even change the goal posts as I’m wont to do. I bought a ticket for Book Fair Australia 2023.

Having decided I didn’t want to share my premises with anyone I booked a BnB, and then booked a motel going to Sydney and another going back to Melbourne. It was going to be a real break for me, not one where I’d have to drive all day and arrive at my destination in the dark. With less than a week to leaving time I discovered my BnB had been cancelled. Apparently it had been double booked. Not by my host but by the booking site. I found a hotel a little further away and managed to get my money back from the BnB. My room at the hotel was very small, but I had Ibises outside my window, real Ibises! And all the staff were lovely. It worked for me.

Book Fair Australia runs over two days, Saturday and Sunday. If those are the days you work then that’s a problem. The organisers had booked a hall at the Showgrounds in Sydney. They had filled it with stalls, so many stalls. We had new authors, old authors, and also those making book related items. You could also sit down and play D&D. Everything was for sale. Talking to the authors was a delight, I wish I could have bought all the books. If you look at the photo you’ll see the fifteen books I did buy. Most of that was on the Sunday.

I had a plan, you see. It involved walking around absolutely every single stall and checking everything out. I was going to talk to everyone, I think I succeeded in checking out every stall and speaking to most of the people behind each stall. But that was Saturday and it left Sunday to buy everything. Not such a good idea, books are very heavy. I bought two books on Saturday when I was on the home run and the rest on Sunday. Even putting most of them in my day pack gave me issues. Then came the biggest issue, getting back to the hotel room via public transport with all those books. I managed, in the end, but I had something very unhealthy for dinner that night because it was close.

Don’t ask me how much I spent. I have absolutely no idea. I disovered the magic of having a credit card on my phone. What I didn’t realise when I refused receipts is that I wouldn’t be able to look at each transaction once I’d dismissed it from my home screen. I will log into my credit card and look, for the moment I sit in blissful ignorance.

There was also a space marked out for panels and other talks. I intended to sit and watch one or more of these, but my intentions didn’t map out and I wandered the stalls instead. Thanks to the generosity of the organising team and the authors there are three Online Panels you can watch. Will I actually watch them or will my intentions go down the gurgler as I end up involved in every day life. I’ll leave you to guess that one.

Book Fair Australia has a Discord channel. I joined that some time ago and have made friends. It’s odd how I manage to make friends while talking about books. Some of us managed to meet during the weekend, next year we’ll manage to have coffee together.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend. I pushed myself to my limits, taking two days to drive to Sydney, four nights there and then two days to drive back. I enjoyed myself immensely and despite being tired I did actually feel refreshed. I’ve discovered the joys of audio books for a long drive, not so good driving around major cities though. I find I’m distracted and that could be very bad to be distracted listening to a book while I’m meant to be navigating to somewhere I don’t know so well. Audio books are perfect for the open road when all I need to do is go forward and not watch for the next turn. I listened to Don’t Panic by Neil Gaiman on the way up and most of The Fossil Hunter by Tea Cooper on the way back. Both are good books and I hope to scribble some words about them in due course.

I’ve babbled enough about a great weekend. I do hope to repeat it next year and come back with a lot more books. I’ll have a plan for the books I buy, it will include a budget…potentially.

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