Krakow book fair 2015
Hello, and welcome to my report from the 19th annual Krakow book fair, one of the most important of its kind in Europe!
I was invited to attend as an author (of Typical Errors in English) to the fair at which I would be present to also sign copies of my book. My time was from 1600-1700 on Saturday afternoon, 24th October.
One thing I should mention is how much the event has grown. I can remember, many years ago, how this fair took place in some building off (or was it on?) Rakowicka Street in the city. It then moved to Bronowice before settling down for a few years somewhere off ul. Centralna near Nowa Huta. Indeed, I was there (but as a visitor) last year. It had grown even then, but I came away kind of feeling that it was still not displaying the kind of books that everybody would be interested in. Indeed, I got the impression that much of it was focussed on guides, dictionaries, school books and educational stuff, plus an awful lot of very serious stuff.
This year the event took place at the newly-built Krakow Expo, not far from the newly-built Krakow Arena, a few kilometres away from the newly-built International Congress Centre. The city has spent a fair fortune recently.
I decided to give myself plenty of time to travel there, and, well, it's a good job I did. I planned to use a well-known shopping centre car park and walk the 800 metres or so to get there. On this occasion I brought my son to get a feeling of the whole event. We survived the roadworks on Opolska Street (where there were two kilometre jams in one direction - we took a few other roads to avoid it) and the Krakow Half-marathon, an event this year staged very inconveniently on a Saturday (presumably because of the general election). Earlier, I had been in town and witnessed some of the impatience and frustrations of public transport users to work out what was running, what was not, and what was inaccessible thanks to the road closures all over the centre of the city.
When we arrived at the shopping centre, we discovered that an awful lot of people basically had the same idea, to the point that there were queues to get in. Thankfully, we placed ourselves well into the car park and, as it turned out, not too far away from the road leading up to the centre. There were plenty of people going to and from the Expo building.
Now I had my author's VIP pass to get me into the centre, but I had to join the queues to get in because I still had to pay for my son. Thankfully, this queue was moving quickly; this was one thing that the organisers had certainly expected. We were inside with half-an-hour to spare. I have to say that the event must have been twice the size of last year, and was split into two large areas, and this year they seem to have most (if not all) subjects covered. Unfortunately I did not have the time to completely explore the place as I had to go and find where I needed to go. Thankfully, I had my stand number and it was quite easy to find where I was going to be sitting at my table.
I introduced myself to Hatteria, the book distributors who had a stall there, and used some of the remaining time to take my son to visit a few of the nearly stalls (where he got a TinTin book and I got a game for my younger son).
With ten minutes to spare, I settled down at my table where three of my books were laid out in front of me. My son took a place behind me, and I was handed two pens ready for signing. I met a few other people, and was informed that I had one person who had waited four hours for me to be there! Wojtech, I never imagined that you would be my first 'fan'. That's enthusiasm.
And business was quite good. As well as signing books, I even offered some freshly-drawn cartoons as freebies. Two happy girls even had their photographs taken with me. One old student even turned up; Kasia and her work colleague had, in fact, contributed a couple of jokes to the book, so it was nice to see her again. My son was also keeping a count of the books sold (no, we didn't sell hundreds - that would have been physically impossible). We did most business in the first half an hour I was there, and I was kept reasonably busy.
Afterwards, it was time to go as I had to get my son back. Clearly Hatteria were well-pleased with the way things had gone as they were hoping I was only disappearing to take a break.
So the event was fun - it was nice to be a 'star', the one who became, on a small scale anyway, the head of attention. It was also very encouraging, leading me to seriously think about a new and improved edition of the book sooner rather than later. But if I'm invited next year, I'll try to be there.
Finally, I'd like to thank Hatteria for allowing me to use their table. And of course, Tertium, for their support.