Vendors who'd been there many years said the crowds were down this year. That may be so, but there were plenty of people strolling through, especially Saturday afternoon. And why not--we had three straight days of outstanding weather--sunny, blue sky, low humidity, temps in the upper 70's, low 80's.
We learned a little about Landstrike too. Turns out it's a big hit with teen boys, some of whom evidently were in disaster mode due to the release of the mega-disaster movie "2012." We had plenty of interest from all ages, races, creeds and sexes, but the teen boys were drawn to our booth like flies to honey.
Our favorite was a sixth grade Latino boy who dragged his mom all the way back from the fair exit, as they were leaving, so he could purchase the book. When it turned out mom didn't have any cash--and so had to call dad to come over as well--the boy started reading the book while waiting. By the time the transaction was done, he was well into chapter one and looked like he'd be reading it every step of the way as his family left the fair.
We were pleased to see so many boys interested because it's a difficult group to get to read anything!
So, if you've got a teen boy on your holiday gift list, and he's a reader of action-adventure books, consider Landstrike (the paperback is available on Amazon.com and BN.com for about $15).
[We also found that quite a few adults preferred to download the book to their Kindle readers--they took our card, and sure enough we had a nice little spike in Kindle downloads over the weekend.]
Overall, we enjoyed the fair. Our neighbors, all selling their books, were a terrific group, and helped each other out when they could.
One downer, however, was the five Author Solutions ("ASs") booths around the corner from us. Author Solutions is the parent for a group of self-publishing companies, including our publisher, Xlibris. As we discussed in a prior post, Xlibris (and other ASs companies) pushed some of their authors into ridiculous packages, costing $4000-$10,000, in which they were required to purchase a couple hundred books and then give them away at the fair.
Not only were these packages huge rip-offs for the authors, but they pissed off just about every other legitimate seller at the fair. Many fairgoers suddenly thought they were going to get free books from everyone! Unfortunately, for the most part you got what you paid for at the ASs booths--we picked up some of the free books, and while a couple were not too bad, several were completely unreadable.
If the Miami Book Fair is going to attract quality exhibitors in the future, it will need to make a choice: ban ASs's free book scam that rips off unsuspecting authors, or turn the whole thing into a freebie fest and just forget about the fair's reputation.