Another successful Kerrytown Bookfest – a crowd estimated at 4,000, big time attendance at the panels, good sales by the vendors…a hit…
But yet despite all the outer trappings of success I still have a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Most of it is probably because of the fact that the boyscout troops that were supposed to help us didn’t show up at set up or, even more critically, at tear down when we are all already dead tired. But that’s happened before in the past and even then, bone weary and sore, I still had a glow of success, something I just ain’t feeling right now.
I could do a USA today style think piece on the death of civility, my personal Joe Wilson, Serena and Kanye being that fat black lady who punched me repeatedly in the back shrieking I can’t see! I can’t see! as I stepped to the speakers table to tell the food superstars panel that they were already ten minutes into the next panel’s time. Although that charming citizen was the most violent, I certainly got disrespected many times that day for the sin of attempting to keep everybody happy. Jane and Michael Sterns themselves were delightful people and very good sports, but by in large the food crowd made me really appreciate the mystery lovers I usually deal with. My theory is that the foodies are stuck at the oral level of development and can’t help behaving in a passive aggressive infantile manner. Even though the panel was clearly over, the public still couldn’t help bawling out their questions or even just their random memories of the bacon fat and zwieback of their youth, behavior that continued in the book signing line, the people who’d been forced to wait due to it unable to stop themselves from repeating the very same behavior. I felt like a maitre d’ in an extremely fancy restaurant who is suddenly besieged by the entire social register, each swell expecting the best table in the house. And no tips, either.
Another thing that bummed my bliss is that a lot of my motivation in the past has been to be part of a better book festival that the other one in town. That’s not necessarily a negative thing – a healthy rivalry inspires both parties to greater heights – though I’ve always thought they considered us beneath their notice, that is until we opened a can of whip ass on them. I always so enjoyed the pained expressions on their faces as they saw all the people, vendors and writers that turned out for our event. But they didn’t even drop by this year, and it definitely seems like the war’s over and we’ve won – despite all their advantages in funding, publicity and fancy backers (of course, two of their main props, The Shaman Drum and The Ann Arbor News are no more) they’ve really become a non-factor, struggling to get a quarter of the attendance we do and failing to get any authors anybody wants to see and not promoting the ones they manage to get. Their whole publicity platform this year was based on the necessity of downsizing while we just keep growing. I recognize the pettiness of my desire to outdo them, but it’s still kind of a letdown, as I’ve always been more comfortable as an underdog.
Jeffery Deaver and Some Fat Guy
The best thing by far was getting to hang with and hear Jeffery Deaver who is not only a mega-best selling author, but also a very smart and way cool guy. Getting to know the authors has always been the thing that made it all worthwhile for us, and Jeff is really a guy worth getting to know, as are his books which I have been devouring.
So ANYWAY, as the muscles become less sore and the bruises fade, things seem better than they did not so long ago. Counting the profits also tends to brighten the mood. Usually we don’t make that much at the Bookfest and it’s always more important to us that the event is a success than if our store makes money, BUT thanks to the Sterns and their devoted fans we did do pretty darn well this year, which always makes back breaking work and the indignities of dealing with the public a lot more palatable, if you will. I don’t really want to think about it now, but yeah, as I slowly get the old UBU mojo back, I’m sure this ass will be hitched up to the cart again next year…