For Toronto’s Word on the Street, Andrea Wayne Von Koningslow (Bing and Chutney) and I sat at the CANSCAIP booth while two new young writers stood in front drawing people in. One was a “selfie” with two picture books. They seemed well enough written–I didn’t read the whole story–but perhaps suffered from too much text for the usual picture book demograph–something a traditional publisher likely wouldn’t touch.
She talked about author visits and selling rubber bands with “I love to read on it” while I silently cringed. I enjoy visiting schools and getting kids excited about reading and writing, granted no buttons or elastics to sell with this message on it. And I don’t mind autographing and selling books but find it difficult to push this too much.
This writer also pointed out that none of us linked our websites to direct sales. I love all bookstores, linking to one, especially a giant that other writers are in dispute with, seems problematic. Still do traditionally published writers market enough?
I’ll let you decide.
In the attention competition, reading has been slipping of late not I think because of video games, television or music but because of the increased use of social media, Facebook, Twitter, tumblir, instagram, Youtube and Younameit. I know I can spend great amounts of time watching short cat and dog videos and many, many more people seem to enjoy viewing Charlie Bit My Finger or Crazy Nast@#$$ Badger. The ironic thing about these pastimes is that they should attract only the monied because you need an expensive device and an Internet supplier to partake of them. Reading is free with a library card and arguably provides more professional entertainment, enrichment and relaxation. Also when I attend a literary festival that’s admission free, often only the privileged intelligentsia (writers’ and librarian’s kids, Waldorf students, home schoolers) attend.
This is where Telling Tale differentiates itself. By providing free bussing, access to Westfield Village buildings, story tellers, musicians, author presentations and talks, it’s been able to attract 7,000 visitors in 2014. All kinds of people. One young mom told it was her third year coming. She couldn’t afford to buy a book but her daughter enjoyed an autographed bookmark and I encouraged her to visit the library to borrow the book that matched her souvenir.
I also love that there’s a book table where kids can just pick up someone’s previously loved book for free.
Weather has cooperated. Big names such as Denis Lee attract the bigger crowds and line ups. But I get a chance to connect with readers both new and old, face to face. To show them the fun behind writing and research. And reading!
And people do buy books.
Thank you Susan Jasper for your vision and dedication to making Telling Tales possible…and such a wonderful success. Thank you to all the dedicated volunteers you’ve attracted year in and year out. It’s such a privilege (and so much fun) to present here.