I survived working my first book-fair. While I would like to say that it was shocking and appalling and I was surprised at everything that went on (and though I’m sure that would make for a better read), that would be a lie. I have attended book fairs before. I have been completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to look at. Surprisingly though (at least for me), I found it much calmer to be on the other side of the display case for the first time. While I realize that the Sacramento Book Fair is a more intimate gathering than some of the ABAA fairs, and therefore it’s entirely possible that I sound like a total wanker (I can hear you seasoned booksellers chuckling and muttering “Just you wait, Little Girl” under your breath) I absolutely enjoyed my first fair.
To begin with, load-in, set-up and take-down of the booths was much smoother than I ever imagined any fair to be. Tavistock Books was completely packed and out of the parking lot within an hour of the fair’s completion. And though I can’t say that I sold a million dollars worth of stuff (if I had, I would be in Cancun instead of here writing this, obviously), I felt fairly confident in my ability to answer any questions asked to me. I also very much enjoyed meeting more of my fellow exhibitors and… rifling through all of their stuff. Nothing like smiling at a man in a bowtie with a nervous rush of “Hi, I’d like to buy this Giants Score Card cause my boss will pee himself, my name is Margueritte from Tavistock Books and it’s nice to meet you, how much is it?” all exhaled in one breath. However, no matter how many times I awkwardly asked if it was really and truly okay to put my card in a book and pay for it in a little while (why can’t I do this at Target?), I was greeted with amused and genuine smiles at every turn. I believe Sacramento was the best fair for a novice like me to begin with. The exhibitors were kind people with a mesh of different materials (mainly affordable, to the detriment of my personal bank account). I was able to experience great dinners, hilarious conversation, and one extremely sleepless night (…nerves) – all in one short weekend! When I recently attended CABS, a handful of the teachers highly stressed working book fairs. Now I know why. Not only is it a meeting grounds for like-minded people to share unnatural obsessions with really cool stuff, but it is an absolute pleasure to feel like you belong somewhere.
I had a fabulous time and cannot wait to do it all again.