guest post The Seattle Book Fair, The Kings of Leon and Bob Dylan

I shipped about 400 lbs via UPS. I flew with one suitcase, and my black bag with 3 civil war photo albums in it, and I hand-carried a Ralph Steadman portfolio (wrapped in paper). I was in Seattle before noon the day before setup. Setup was all day Friday (the 13th). The hall was at Seattle Center, by the Space Needle and Key Arena, and close to the Frank Ghery designed Experience Music Project. At 8am we got in and were set up by noon. I had good pre-fair sales. (I heard one, first time exhibitor spend 75k during setup). Some bookseller whiners were complaing “can’t find anything to buy…” But my motto is, ANYBODY can BUY, but…….can you SELL? After setup was the book fair dinner sponsored by the book club of Washington, with guest speak Nick Basbanes. It was held at a fancy, downtown steakhouse. This is always a nice event that has a great turnout and is very important to the fair. However, I donated my ticket, and instead, walked about 50 feet from the book fair site and claimed my seat on the floor by the stage for the Bob Dylan concert at Key Arena. Opening for Dylan was a new group THE KINGS OF LEON. At 7:30 sharp out they came. About an hour later, after the band switch, the MAN and his band, Bob Dylan, casually walked onstage, and started with MAGGIE’S FARM and I knew it would be a great night. I have seen him 8 times now, and he was never better. STRONG. I hear he is boxing, working out and staying in shape (he is 65 years old). He showed it on this night. After two hours, and a long encore, the show was over, and we made our way out to the street (with 15,000 others) as two big tour buses whispered by with Dylan and his band, on to his next gig.

The Seattle book fair opened on Saturday October 14 (10-7) and the line was long, the longest I can remember. There were 92 dealers in 79 booths, with 6 book art booths. The fair promoters, Louis Collins and Dave Gregor did a splendid job, as always, and the show shined. All the booths were sold out this year. The crowd was steady with only a slowdown around 6 (the fair went until 7) on Saturday. Sunday the fair hours were 11-4, and it was raining until mid-afternoon, but there was a good crowd, even at the end (total attendance just under 2000). My sales were as strong Saturday as they were on Sunday. Like most fairs, most sellers did well but some did not. One dealer told me that when he does fairs, and sets up, and the fair opens, a strange phenomenon happens in that his books become invisible. I must say, after doing 7-8 Seattle fairs in a row, they have been consistently good for me. When the show closed it took two hours to pack up (8 boxes). Monday, I was on a 6:20am flight out of Seattle to Houston, on my way home, where I got caught in a 7-hour rain delay (they had 16 inches of rain in two days) and finally arrived home at 1am. I had 3 books in my suitcase I had sold that required mailing. Sure, I was a little tired, but it was well worth the effort and I am looking forward to next year in Seattle. I wonder if the Bobster will be there again?

Ed Smith @ Ed Smith Books
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida


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