Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reflections on The 2013 Twin Cities Book Festival

The Twin Cities Book Festival on October 12 in St. Paul, Minnesota, was another memorable, successful event. In order to be on time for the opening of the Festival, I left early, at 8:00am, arriving at 9:00am. As I was setting up my table, many other exhibitors were doing the same.

I had paid $80 for a half table, and was assigned table number 12. I had registered my exhibition under the name of Africonexion, a little company I own and run, which publishes my books and coordinates my seminars, workshops, and  presentations. The focus is the challenges and opportunities presented by cultural diversity.

As usual, people started arriving early, and when the doors opened, the exhibition hall became a hive of activity. It was heartwarming to observe so many people moving from table to table, talking with authors, booksellers, and publishers, browsing through books and buying books. 

I hear much about the declining fortunes of the book and the book industry as we know it, but being in an event like this festival makes you forget completely that there is such a decline. The number of publishers alone, and the many many titles on display, is enough to give you second thoughts.

Above all, none of these people seemed despondent. On the contrary, they exuded good cheer and optimism. The large number of readers and book buyers underlined the point, at least for me, that the book is here to stay.

Because I was at my table the whole time, I did not get the opportunity to hear the guest writers and observe other programs which were part of the Festival. But this could not be avoided, and it did not diminish the fullness of my satisfaction.

I met and had conversations with a good number of people, and was pleased to see them browse though my books, giving me an opportunity to talk about my work. I cannot express well enough how humbled I was when the people who bought my books asked that I sign them.

It was another very memorable Festival, thanks to the hard work, diligence, and commitment, of Rain Taxi and the many volunteers who worked hard and cheerfully, throughout the day answering questions and helping anyone who needed help. I look forward the 2014 Festival.

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