Monday, 16 April 2012

The Great Exhibition

I can't say that I have ever been a fan of trade fairs. I worked at one at Earl's Court once, representing an importer of Italian crockery and novelty goods. My best friend at the time, Brad, was behind me with a display of fancy Italian leather wallets. We have both moved on to better things. All I remember from that event, (apart from being poor and hating it and thinking – as I have thought about every job I have ever had – that I was far too good to be there) is taking a call from my other best friend on my mobile phone and hearing that she had miscarried a child, and Brad and I crying and ignoring all the customers. Looking back, I was not too good for the job but not quite good enough. That goes for all the other jobs, too. I only really like writing, and that's not a job. It's something I do sometimes that keeps me from looking at the internet.

The other trade fair I went to was the exhibition in 1999 in the Millennium Dome in London (now the O2 arena, a venue for concerts). It wasn't supposed to be a trade fair. I had rather hoped it would be like the Great Exhibition of 1851, and despite the bad reports in the press, I insisted on going because I wanted to see Ron Mueck's Giant Boy. The Giant Boy was great. But the exhibition had none of the flair or inventiveness of any of the brilliant free museums and art galleries we have in London. It was just like a trade fair.

So... Book Expo America in New York is a trade fair. I went last year and wrote about it on my blog here, here, here and here. The Javits Convention Center is as bleak and disturbing as Earl's Court, only much bigger. There is no weather inside that place. There's no light, no dark; no day, no night. It's like Huis Clos except with more than just two people to annoy you. But I did enjoy the socialising and parties that went with the conference (and I was very grateful to be invited to attend, in case anyone who issued that invitation should read this).

Consequently I have decided to give the London Book Fair a whirl this year. I shan't be live tweeting it as I don't have a fancy phone: I update my Twitter account from my computer. But I might blog it, if it's fun. I'm heading to the Amazon Publishing cocktail party on Monday night so here's hoping.