Eastercon: twilight of the booksellers

Brian from Porcupine Books is making this his last con. He’s turning 65 and has had it with the schlepping. After Worldcon he was thinking of selling up, but now he’s planning to carry on online.
“I imagine the driving back and forth gets old.”
“Not so much the driving as the loading and unloading, and the alphabetizing.”
“At least if they’re all at home you know where they are.”

Another bookseller told the Follycon committee member who came asking that he was skipping Eastercon next year. “It costs so much for the hotel room and everything, and we’re not selling. We’ve sold one row of paperbacks (or less? not sure I heard correctly) and one hardback. We’ve sold as much over the Internet this weekend as we have at the con. I agree, a con without booksellers isn’t the same, but nobody’s buying. Nobody’s buying. Those people over there selling hats are doing good business. I was just saying, maybe we should switch to selling hats.”

So even readercentric cons will become like Nine Worlds, where the dealer room was Forbidden Planet, hats, cosplay ears, and Genkigear T-shirts.

I bought some paperbacks from each stall, with misgivings as a) my already acquired and queued reading probably exceeds my remaining lifetime reading time; b) my eyes can’t really cope with small print on browning paper anymore, especially if the prose is less than sparkling; 3) my flat is small and I may have to move soon so I really need to keep a leash on the book habit. This is another generational thing where I’m lagging my generation and lining up with the millennials: I live in about 42 sq m, badly laid out. I may never live anywhere larger. I just can’t afford the rent to live in a house-sized library the way my parents did. I will live in a reading room, with half the collection on a Kindle or pdf, and count myself lucky to be able to keep the books that I do. I browsed the new books and Kindled some of them. Sorry, dealers. Perhaps the book part of the dealers’ room needs to be more of a shop window for authors and publishers.

Posted on by Diana ben-Aaron
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