Why Don’t Readers Go to Book Fairs?

Stafford Book Fair1

On Saturday I was at the Stafford Book Fair with some of the Penkhull  Press team, Jan Edwards, Peter Coleborn and Jem Shaw. We shared our table with the award winning Alchemy Press and we were all there to sell our books.

Our display looked amazing. Nothing to do with me  as it’s not part of my skill set, but years of experience have made Jan and Peter ace at setting out their books in an enticing and eye-catching way. We were also straight in front of one of the  main entrances, so that anyone coming in to the indoor market couldn’t help but see us. Stafford Book Fair5
So far so good, so very good.

Except that we didn’t sell many books.


Because no one came.

I don’t mean that there was no one there. Shoppers came in and out of the  market, some stopped to browse, others stopped to buy. But there was no one there specifically to look at books.

There were a number of reasons why this might have happened. The publicity wasn’t great for one thing; it was a Saturday in August when a lot of people would have been away; there was another event going on in Stafford etc. etc.

If this lack of interest was a one off then we’d all shrug our shoulders and get on with preparing for the next book fair, but it seems to be fairly universal.

So why don’t readers come?

Is it that we’re all getting out of the habit of physically browsing for books? Or is the very nature of a book fair geared to writers and publishers rather than readers? Should we be offering incentives, freebie books, or competitions to win a walk on role in the next novel? I wish I knew.

All I do know is that there are readers out there who would love “House of Shadows” and “Susssex Tales” and “It Never Was Worthwhile” and “The First Book of Gabriel” and “The Larks”, but we are not reaching them.

Any ideas on how to remedy the situation gratefully received.

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