by Wilfred Bereswill
Talk about being overwhelmed. This weekend was the Greater St. Louis Book Fair. It's held annually to benefit a number of charities in the area. This year it was held in the massive parking garage of one of the area's biggest shopping malls. I have never seen so many books in one place. Admission was charged on Friday and an auction was held. Apparently the highlight was a rare signed copy of Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms.
I was unable to attend Friday, but I swung by on both Saturday and Sunday. I was looking to fill in some holes in my collections, which meant that I was searching tables and tables and tables of hardbacks and paperbacks.
What it made me realize, is that an author is fighting incredible odds to stand out amid the sea of titles out there. If I was having trouble finding Tom Clancy's The Bear And The Dragon, how on earth is a beginning novelist supposed to stand out in that same paper ocean?
Anyway, back to the Fair. After hours of browsing I managed to find a stash of titles that more than doubled my massively huge to be read pile which still includes a number of titles that I got from last year's Bouchercon.
What piqued my fancy? Well, I managed to fill in my Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, John Sanford and Patricia Cornwell quite nicely. In addition, I managed to find some novels from authors I know personally, like John Gilstrap from The Kill Zone blog, Jan Burke (autographed), Tess Gerritsen and Barb D'Amato. I also picked up some fine St. Louis authors, like Ridley Pearson, Bobbi Smith, Jo Heistand, Eileen Dreyer and even picked up an autographed copy of SWF Seeks Same by John Lutz which became the movie Singe White Female. I found a 1st edition of Stephen King's Bag Of Bones. I also picked up some romance books for my lovely wife and some light mysteries for my youngest daughter.
And the amazing thing is... I spent less than $20. Yep. Today was half price day. Paperbacks were a whopping $.50 and most hardbacks were $1.
Oh, I almost forgot. I picked up a 30 year old illustrated book called Play Better Golf by Jack Nicklaus. Then I picked up a 1955 copy of Golf With The Masters. Lastly, I found a 1946 copy of How To Play Golf by Sam Snead. All three of these beauties will be proudly displayed in my den.
I lugged all my treasures to my car and began thinking about the future of publishing. As I said, all the proceeds went to worthwhile charities in the St. Louis area, but when publishing goes mostly digital... You noticed I said when, not if... What will become of book fairs?
So, if you happened to find yourself in a monster book fair, what would you search for?