28 June 2005

Book Expo, thou hast slain me!

Spent all day yesterday at Book Expo, down at the Toronto Convention Centre. Didn't have to, but I did. What a grotesque experience -- although it allegedly had something to do with books and writing and stuff, I felt like an alien. It all seemed to have no relation to my life as a writer.

I went down at about 11 a.m. to do a signing at the Anvil Press table and a sort of closed-circuit radio interview. A few friends ended up in the lineup for free, signed books, so that made me happy, and some owners of independent bookstores, too, which was cool, but what really got me was the string of about five employees from the same Scarborough Chapters outlet. I really gave them a rough time -- made them display some evidence that they knew who I was and didn't just want any free book being given out. Bugged them to try to sell my books, and then pointed to the last one of them in line and said she was the manager. So when she got to me, I asked her if her store stocked my book and if they were going to push it. She shrugged, and said, "I dunno, ask those guys." Dennis Bolen, who was signing beside me, said, "Those guys said you were the manager." She said, "Yeah, but I dunno." So I took the book back from her without signing it and went on to the next person. This "manager" was incensed. She was being denied her free book! After signing a couple of other folks' books, I did sign this teenybopper manager's book and told her to enjoy it. Through gritted teeth.

Can I refuse to give a free book to someone at Book Expo? I'll have to find out next time, if there is a next time. Anyway, I hope the Chapters gang likes the two nasty mentions of their store in my book -- especially the one where I wonder whether "they don't stock Jews" when I can't find my book in a London, Ont., branch.

Had a nice visit with Dan, the manager of the Book Shelf in Guelph. He's a neat guy. And bumped into the effervescent Sheree Fitch, who I haven't seen since the Banff/Calgary Wordfest in 2003. They've invited her back for this year, but not me. Sigh. Kitty from Brick Books was the only continuously cheerful person I saw at the Expo. I did see Ian Samuels, WordFest's artistic director, and the main reason I hung around for four hours after my signing was that he suggested we'd go for drinks at the end of the day.

At the end of the day he was nowhere to be found. At the end of the day I felt like my soul had been sucked out my body through my nostrils. At the end of the day I felt precipitously close to depression. I went home and slept a lot.

Over and out.


At July 01, 2005 5:28 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I'm a librarian and not a writer, I felt similarly depressed (and exhausted) at the end of the Book Expo day, Stuart. I'm not used to the business of books. The interest in free stuff and the fact that most people only wanted to meet "big name" or "cute" writers made me want to puke.

Wish we'd had more of a chance to chat.

Lisa xo


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