is hosted in Berkeley what appears to be the first weekend in June. Last year I was off somewhere. Probably on a ship. And missed the event. George had made sure that I knew the dates of the event this year.
He, of course, was interested in attending several lectures related to authors (of history/politics/the like). I was for staying as far away from any and all crowded room with someone speaking. I go to professional meetings. I enjoy them for both the scientific update and spending time with colleagues. I enjoy going to Science Fiction conventions – mostly for seeing people, wearing strange costumes and spending time in the Dealer’s Room. Not so much for either readings or panels. The discussions have been the same for the last several decades.
Where was I? Oh yes – wandering into Berkeley via Shattuck and walking past booth after booth of small presses. They are easy to spot. Mostly trade size paperbacks with unimaginative titles, similar covers obviously computer generated and back copy which leaves you saying “huh?” It isn’t that there are not a lot of great ideas and stories, it is rather than the lack of outside competent help leads to less than an inviting product. Given $10, I’ll purchase 5-10 eBooks and probably discover an author or two whose follow on books I will buy. Given $7.99-12.99 for an unknown author’s small press book – no. I will miss some good authors perhaps. But I will avoid the lack of professionalism.
Off Soap Box. I sail by most of the stands, except for those run by the local and regional book stores. Here the stands are segregated by type. The Teens are in one section, the children’s related books in another. There is an area occupied by those with publications related to Spiritual Matters and a different one for the Radicals. The Maker’s have little that is interesting and all of it seems to involve deconstructing books to create mats, coasters, earrings… I liked the Chicago Book Fair I attended much better. Yes, it is a big city, but there were “real publishers” along with all the small presses and a lot of interesting things to use with books/writing on offer.
By 1130 I am about completely over the place. I have gone through the free book structures and scored two books I don’t think I have. The herds of people limited my ability to see and my small bag kept me restrained in what I was able to carry. George heads, disappointed that I am not joining him to an 1145 lecture by an author about the Spanish Civil War. I head to Indian Spice and get a veg burrito (don’t ask) followed by a slow meander back along Shattuck then up the hill to home.