This past weekend I attended the SC Book Festival in Columbia, SC, and wanted to share my thoughts on this event.
Held at the Convention Center, the event is very well done. It’s professional, clean, and well staffed. There were always people roaming the aisle. Situated on the first row by the entrance was a big plus - more traffic than the other aisles. They had an artist’s corner and an upstairs area with events for kids. Some of the vendors kept to themselves, but many were friendly and nice. Met some great people this weekend.
According to previous attendees, attendance was way down, and so were sales. (Most stated they only sold 30-50% of what they sold last year.) A lot of this had to do with timing - the festival is usually held in February. Mid-May meant more outdoor activities, nicer weather, and college was already out for the year. I think the great rise in eBooks had a lot to do with it, too. Fewer people are buying physical books.
The rest is the usual that one sees at any book event. People who walk through so fast, you wonder why they even came if they weren’t planning to actually stop and look. Half of the crowd was senior citizens, and they made a beeline for the Carolina history stuff. A few obnoxious authors. There’s the mass of writers who attend just to pump authors and publishers for information without buying any books. (Gotta love those people!) And two days standing (because you don’t dare sit - you have to engage passerbys and hand out bookmarks) is really draining. It also reminded me my why I normally don’t pay to attend events - it’s just not worth it. I felt bad for the self-published authors sitting there with one or two books - they lost big time.
Will I attend the SC Book Festival again? No. The EBook trend means even less attendees next year. The event was almost too formal, too. And of course, there’s the cost. That’s why I love the Book ‘Em events. More casual, a friendly environment, and no cost to authors or publishers.
And if you missed my announcement on Monday about the first ever NC Book ‘Em, click HERE.
What’s everyone else’s feeling about book festivals? Do you attend ones that require several hundred dollars for a booth? If you go as a reader, do you actually BUY books?