I have a confession to make, and some of you might want to disown me after reading it. I know it’s weird, especially considering my level of excitement toward certain books. I mean have you SEEN the Twitter flailing? The furious Goodreads updates? I go nuts over some books, and want to give my favorite authors some seriously creepy internet hugs. But (here it comes) I just don’t get excited over author events.
I know at least some of you are gaping at your screen open-mouthed, trying to figure out what’s wrong with me now. Right? Right. (If you figure it out, let me know!)
Before you click away for fear of my obvious madness spreading to you, let me explain. New Orleans is a great place to live. There’s tons of great food, enthusiastic music, mixed culture, and the people are generally friendly. The heat and humidity that press on us year round is the only thing that really sucks. No wait, so does the lack of acceptable author events.
I’m on email lists for all the independent bookstores here, just so I can be informed about author events that may be going on. For the most part (something like 90%+), events here involve local authors, or at least authors writing about locally-interesting topics. Overall I think this is great. Local stores are supporting local authors, and their art, giving our community a chance to grow. But personally, I have little to no interest in the books that are being featured at these events. I don’t know if I have rotten luck, or if Louisana authors are just not for me. The few local reads I’ve tried out have been a disaster, to put it mildly. (Some took me weeks to get through, and I was only able to finish because I needed to send feedback for an ARC. >_<) Supposing I were to come across one I’d like to attend, I probably couldn’t anyway because of the scheduling issues. For some reason most author events hosted at the more active of these shops happen in the middle of the day during weekdays, or super early on weekends (when I’m at work). It really makes me wonder how good of a turnout they can be getting, at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. Even for people on non-conventional schedules like I am, that’s a difficult time of day to get to a busy part of downtown (with super limited parking, I might add).
Since beginning my book blog last summer I may have seen two events for YA authors, and neither of them were someone I’d heard of before. One was actually an author Kelley warned me away from, since she had read her work before and was underwhelmed. There was one author event I thought I might like to go to – ONCE – and now I can’t even remember who it was. I dismissed it as even being a possibility as soon as I looked up the details. Not only was it in the busiest part of tourist headquarters downtown (odd to begin with), it was in a bar. That’s right – no books here, just booze and a mic + small stage. On top of immediately discluding anyone under legal drinking age, there was a somewhat exorbitant cover charge (something like $50). This included a pre-signed book I may or may not have even wanted, and absolutely no chance to meet with or talk to the author, or get anything else signed. There would be a short reading from his book, sitting in some dingy tourist attraction, with the smell of who even knows what floating around rather than the clean and aged smell of well-kept bookstores.
I guess if it happened to be my favorite author ever, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But when viewed as essentially paying for a single book and someone reading a chapter of it to me, it’s ridiculously expensive. For someone on a cook’s salary and also putting myself through college (ART college, at that. Do you know how expensive art supplies get?! Also I need my fancy cheese. And books. And and and…), I just don’t have excess funds to throw around like that, especially on something that sounds so unenjoyable. After months of looking and hoping to find some fun author event to go to, that one finally made me give up the search.
Then, a couple weeks ago during the Grand Opening of Oh, the Books! I found out about a big book con held here in New Orleans every year – RT Booklovers Convention. (Thank you, Sarah J!) I hadn’t started my book blog this time last year, so I wouldn’t have heard about it through the community grapevine yet. I began to get excited, thinking there might be at least one or two authors I’d like to meet at a huge convention. Right? Sure enough, there are eleven flippin’ pages full of authors attending this con, lots of which are YA authors, some of whom I recognize and would love to meet. Most, if not all, of them are even signing at this Giant Book Fair event. A day pass for Saturday includes the fair plus a few workshops, all for $55. Weighing that single-author don’t-talk-to-me-here’s-your-book-my-assistant-probably-forge-signed event of $50ish against a slew of amazing YA and other authors PLUS more awesome things for $55? That’s not even a fair contest. The day is a terrible time for me, since Saturdays are my busiest and we’re in the punch of spring right now… but by the time mid-May rolls around I just may be able to swing going. I think I can ration myself on fancy cheeses and new tubes of paint for a while, if it means getting to meet some amazingly creative souls that will actually be happy about me – and everyone else – being there.
Aside from the prospect of RT Booklovers Convention, I have to wonder… are author events like this everywhere? Am I just a scrooge, not wanting to spend more money on bookish things, on top of buying books? How does everyone else manage to go to all these big book events? Do I just live in a rotten city for being a book nerd?