Sunday, August 31, 2008

Decatur Book Festival

I have a confession to make. Even though I live right outside Atlanta, and am very involved in science fiction fandom;, Farmerphile, Farmercon...I have never been to DragonCon. The reason is my real job. Most of the year it is a normal 40 to 50 hours a week, but in football season, it is a wearying 70 hours a week, with a big chunk of them on the weekends. DragonCon falling on the opening weekend of college football is a problem.

I did however manage to get some hours off yesterday (Saturday August 30th) to go to the Decatur Book Festival. Normally I just go in the afternoon when I'm done working, but this year I wanted to see a panel with Kevin J. Anderson, John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell and Cherie Priest that started at 11:15. The panel was really well done, for seemingly being off the cuff for the most part. There were lots of laughs.

After the panel there was a book signing where things seemed to be going well, since the dealer was running out of books by all of the authors (I got one of the last hardcovers of Zoe's Tale). The strangest part of the day came when I finally got to the end of the line and John Scalzi says to me, "You look familiar," and then Cherie Priest agrees with him. I suppose it could have been from me stalking them in the hallway downstairs before the panel (just kidding, but I did see them down there). But my best guess is that when I emailed John a couple of weeks ago asking if he would like to contribute an article to Farmerphile, he may have taken a few minutes to check out more of the site than just the Farmerphile page and saw the pictures from Farmercon90. I gave him a copy of issue #11, just as a way of saying thank you for getting back to me, even though he said he wasn't familiar enough with Phil's work to write a good article for me.

I then told Tobias Buckell that Chris Carey said "Hello," and gave him a copy of issue #13 which contains an interview with Chris and an excerpt from The Song of Kwasin, a novel that Phil Farmer started and Chris Carey completed. Tobias seemed glad to hear of Chris, said he was "good people" but that they hadn't really kept in touch much, although he did know Chris was working on this book.

After the signing I hit the Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers Association dealer's room, usually the best part of the weekend for me. This year however I managed to escape their clutches with my money still in my pocket. I was tempted to buy a signed copy of The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, but it was $60 and I was pretty sure I could find it cheaper online. I did see a hardcover first printing of The Green Odyssey, but at $3000, I'll just have to keep saying hi to it each year as I've been doing for several years now. Although I think it was only $1500, four or five years ago. I also met a man who does book restoration and custom binding. I am thinking about having him redo a really beat up ex-library copy I have of The Green Odyssey.

I did buy one other book, but it was outside at one of the many dealer's tents. Most of the dealers are publishers, but this was from a local bookstore, Eagle Eye Books, which has a lot of signed stock on their shelves. I picked up a signed copy of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox for cover price. Since Colfer lives in Ireland I figured I wouldn't come across too many of his books signed anytime soon, and my kids really like his stuff. We've done a lot of it on tape during the long car rides to my in-laws in St. Louis, to Florida, etc... He is probably my favorite YA author right now, although I don't read (or listen to) that many YA books.

Now in its third year the Decatur Book Festival keeps getting a little bigger and a little better. Being the same weekend as Dragoncon, hopefully they will continue to attract more science fiction authors who can come to town for both events.

Perhaps in answer to the Decatur Book Festival, last year Gwinnett County (where I live), launched the Gwinnett Reading Festival. It will be held in October but unfortunately all of the information currently online is from last year's event.


Sophia said...

Dear Mike,
I am a book restorer and thought I would say Hi since I have a great fondness for SF myself. I caught your blog by searching for words of book repair and the like. My website is Have fun book shopping! ~Sophia

Mike said...

Nice to meet you. If I may say so, I think you have chosen a very noble profession and I wish you all the best. And yes, I always have fun book shopping!

Win Scott Eckert said...

Mike, great blog! Just as you have never been to DragonCon, for some reason, despite my own involvement in genre reading and writing, I also have never gotten involved in local fandom. I think it's because almost everything I've done has been post-internet. Anyway, that's all changing this year as I will be attending MileHiCon 40.

Keep up the great posts!

CPC said...

Thanks for relaying my regards!

It's heartening to hear about local book fests sprouting up.