Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Philadelphia Free Library Book Festival

Last Saturday I attended an outdoor event where the entertainers were jugglers, singers, story tellers and magicians, there was even face painting for the children and the best part was that it was free. Now if you guessed that I went to a carnival or circus then you would be wrong, it was the Free Library Book Festival, that's right a book festival. Thousands of people from all over the area flocked to the two day event. Mixed throughout the crowds were families pushing baby stroller's, couples walking their dogs and a few bicyclist. Everyone had a great time, well almost everyone, did I mention that this was a book festival?

In spite of the top notch organizational skills of the Free Library the over whelming majority of the attendees seemed content to browse rather than buy. Anyone who still believes that we are not in a recession should have been there on Saturday, people seemed genuinely interested in the books but did not have the money to purchase them. A few creative authors even offered cookies or candy as an enticement to lure would be buyers over to their booths, (we always pass out free bookmarks) but it didn't seem to matter. As an author I have attended several book fairs and book festivals over the years so I have to thank the Free Library for the professional way that the authors were taken care of from start to finish. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would have to give them a 9.

I believe that my book sales did well despite where my booth was and the status of the economy, but it was hard to watch the other book exhibitors spend time explaining what their book was about and not make many sales. They spent a lot of time giving their spiel only to have the potential buyer tell them they didn't have any money.If I could offer just one suggestion for next years book festival it would be to ramp up the star power. A couple of nationally known writers with TV show or film credentials could only make a good fair even better and maybe bring in more festival goers that can actually afford to buy a book or two. Or to even heavily promote the authors who've already signed on to attend.

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