Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Trip to the Christian Book Expo - Part 2

Yesterday, I posted about some of the good things about my trip to the Christian Book Expo (CBE). Today, I’m going to say some things about the not so great things. Writing like Yoda, will I be. Actually, no, but it did occur to me that it might be good to lighten things up, since I’m going to be somewhat critical. Humor usually helps. I just wish I could do humor.

For a location, the CBE organizers couldn’t have picked a better place. The Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is in the heart of the Bible belt. There are more megachurches, perhaps more churches, in the metroplex than any other city. If you can’t find people interested in Christian books here, you can’t find then anywhere. Considering that, what I saw at the convention center seems odd. There were a lot of people there, but they weren’t with the Christian Book Expo. They were on the other end of the building. Once I got away from the red coats there, the building seemed like a crypt. There were two problems. One, the venue was too large for the event. Look at the picture above. That’s just the one exhibit hall and the CBE didn’t use half the space available. Two, the organizers did a poor job of promoting the event. I found out about it because all of these publishing industry types started talking about their plans to go to Dallas. Book buyers don’t get information that way. Aside from the opportunity to meet authors, there wasn’t much that the CBE had to offer that a customer couldn’t have gotten at a local bookstore. As much as I dislike Southern Gospel Music, the CBE would have been more of a success if the organizer had scheduled Southern Gospel quartets to sing live in the exhibit hall throughout the day. Get ’em through the door and then try to sell books.

The little rubber wrist bands are for the birds. At first, I didn’t put mine on, but I had to dig it out of the bag. So, I slipped over my hand and it was almost too tight to go on. I managed to get it to my wrist and it was so tight I was afraid it would cut off the circulation in my hand. But I’m sure it fit all the little wristed women just fine.

The exhibit hall had carpet everywhere. Can someone tell me what is wrong with concrete? With the low turnout, the additional noise could have only helped.

I didn’t care much for the tall stack of books. I almost knocked one over in the Thomas Nelson booth. Then I would have been the one hiding behind the bus.

The program left much to be desired. I looked down through the schedule and none of the blurbs told me what to expect if I went to hear one of the authors talk. What I wanted to know was how I would come away changed if I attended the talk. Instead it told me what the book was about. Give me a reason to attend the talk, not a reason to buy the book. If I like the talk, I might buy the book. For that matter, I’ll probably buy the book before the talk.

I hadn’t noticed how much I dislike the covers on Christian books until I walked through the exhibit hall. It’s like Martha Stewart designs them all—with all those pastel colors. I’m sure it didn’t help that I walked through someone’s over abundant perfume and carried it all the way home.

The publishers missed an opportunity by setting their booths up like small book stores. If I could have designed the booths, I would have made them more interactive. The author signings are good, but there should have been more for people to do than to browse books. It’s a little hard for me to tell people, “You should go to the CBE. It’s like a big bookstore with a bunch of authors speaking. O, and you have to pay to get in.”

That’s enough criticism. Let’s just say that the CBE has room for improvement.

No comments :