The first Chandler’s Ford Book Fair was on Saturday, 28th October 2017 between 10 am and 12 noon at the Age Concern Centre in Brownhill Road. I hope it will be the beginning of many Book Fairs here.
Many of us miss The Arcade Bookshop which had been our lovely independent book store for decades. Those behind the Fair hoped it would provide a place for local people to browse and buy books with the bonus they were written by regional writers (and many of them local to Chandler’s Ford specifically).
Image Credit: Photos were taken by Janet Williams and Allison Symes
The weather was very good for an autumn day which in turn helped turnout.
I can’t cover every author who was there in a post like this (as there were far too many writers to do so but that is a very nice issue to have! The pictures can share a lot of this and I hope they convey just what a huge range of books and authors there were for this event. The standard, I feel, was very high. If you are browsing for books, you want choice, and plenty of it, especially for present buying, and you certainly had that there).
What I can do is share a few thoughts as to what happened at the Book Fair, to invite writers taking part in this to add further thoughts into the comments box below, and to share a few photos, all of which will give a “flavour” as to how the Fair went.
As with the Hiltingbury Extravaganza back in September, there was some surprise expressed at the number of writers in the area (not just Chandler’s Ford) but also at the wide variety of books available for sale. So this is definitely a word that needs to be spread!
There was everything from YA fantasy, children’s fiction, short story collections, flash fiction collections, non-fiction, and science fiction. Writers often have props to go with their books on their stalls and with that in mind, best prop of the day, I felt, easily went to Heather Chamberlain for her marvellous puppet dog, Woofbot, who is one of the stars of her Happy Bottom books. (Happy Bottom is in Dorset incidentally and a few of the writers at the Fair came up from that very attractive part of the world – Swanage and Wareham especially). Woofbot went down very well with the younger visitors.
Amongst the writers, I also recognised a few regular visitors to the Winchester Writers’ Festival! It was great to have Jane from our marvellous library at the Fair giving out information leaflets and so on.
It was good to meet up with Martin Kyrle again as he was in the non-fiction area with his book, Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway book. He has also written volumes on the local political history of the Liberal Democrats in our area, which he also had with him. There is a follow-up to the railway book to come at some point.
I am pleased, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, to see non-fiction books more widely celebrated and using many fiction techniques to grab their readers. No more lists of dull dates but instead stories, illustrating the facts, and often beautiful photos to show other worlds to those unlikely to get there.
(Must confess I am unlikely to take a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway any time soon but books like this mean I can experience a little of that world as writers like Martin bring that world to me in book form). Also with non-fiction now, there is barely a subject not covered somewhere. So do dip your reading “toes” into non-fiction books. (Many fiction writers often use books like this to inspire their ideas for their made-up worlds. Terry Pratchett was a past master at this).
To my great delight, there was a flash fiction corner too. I was one half of that but the other half was Damon Wakes. I was also one of the answers to a quiz question. The ladies behind Secret Lives and More Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford had set a quiz for youngsters to do and a look of intent concentration was seen on all those who were having a go at this!
There was a steady stream of visitors all morning, people took literature, postcards etc, and books were sold! Result!
In between visitors to the tables, the writers got to chat to each other, exchanging useful information and tips. Networking can take place even in middle of a book fair!
Tables were covered in a wide variety of ways, there were several props (including Halloween themed balloons) and banners.
What was nice was being able to engage with those who came to visit my table. I held several discussions with people about flash fiction and read a couple of examples, and hope I’ve planted a seed by which they may recall my book later on.
Every writer taking part in the Book Fair had similar discussions with those who stopped buy to browse through their books. Hopefully there will be more sales from all of this later. (And if there are, thank you on behalf of all writers taking part in the Fair!). Whatever you write, with events like this, part of our work is to explain what we do and why, who our work is aimed at and to be ready for questions from potential readers.
So a big thank you to the organisers of the Fair and to all those who came. We hope to see you all again another time.
So what do Book Fairs like this achieve?
1. Individual authors – and the group as a whole – all raise their profile.
2. We provide a place for local people to buy books written by local writers.
3. We, briefly, plug the gap left by having no independent book shop.
4. We show the community what writing talent there is in the area.
We also bring our books to you in a way even a bookshop cannot as amongst those taking part were many self published authors and those published by the small presses. The bookshops (particularly the bigger ones) would not necessarily have room for us. At best we could hope for would be a local shop presence. So another reason to hope we have more Book Fairs!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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