How to Behave at a Book Fair: Tips on Getting the Most from the Experience

February 2005
by Christine Louise Hohlbaum

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Before I attended my first book fair, I asked around for advice. What should I expect? How should I approach the experience? The best tip I got was: wear comfortable shoes. You will be in constant motion for most of the day. High heels and tight footwear are better left at home. Wear gel insoles if you have them. Your feet will thank you later.

To add to that helpful hint, I attended a few book fairs myself, including this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, where the sights and sounds reminded me of the first day of high school: the halls smell like new books and you ask yourself, Where did all these people come from?

Book fairs are, of course, designed primarily to let booksellers, publishers, and distributors display their wares and make deals. Since prominent authors are often involved, you may see book signings with celebrities. There will be a kick-off meeting and an opening speech by a dignitary the first evening. But the real book fair experience starts the next morning, and whether the fair is large or small, there are several things you can do to maximize your benefits.

What to Do; What Not to Do

Be prepared.

Book fairs provide numerous opportunities to network. Research publishing companies and distributors before you get there. Go to your local library or use the Internet to discover basic facts about current titles, submissions guidelines, and editors’ names. When you get to the book fair, find the publishers that…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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