Saturday, February 2, 2013

Honoring Local Authors: San Diego

Me and a defenseless sign that could not run away

Last night (1 February 2013), I attended a reception at the San Diego Public Library. The occasion was the 47th Annual Local Authors Exhibit, recognizing those who had had books published (including e-books) during 2012. I was in good company, as there were some 330 authors, representing more than 400 books. The display is open to the public 1 February 2013 - 3 March 2013, and the Library is located at 820 E Street, downtown San Diego.

Yes, there it is, the real reason everyone was see
a copy of Paws & Claws: A Three Dog Mystery.
The range of books was nothing short of amazing -- fiction of all sorts, memoirs, biography, satire, history, science, cookbooks, children's and Young Adult, self-help, health, religion & spirituality, geography, crafts, animals, literature, poetry, and politics. The writers themselves were just as varied, of all races, religions, creeds, and classes. Experience ranged from the professional with dozens of best-sellers under his belt, to the first-time author. The youngest of the group was a lad of just 9 years, and the oldest was...well, the truth is, as long as it wasn't me I'm just fine with any geezer who wants to claim that title. Though I am not much of a schmoozer, I did get a chance to talk with a great many people in attendance, and like all authors they were more than happy to talk about their creations, very much like proud mamas and papas attending the school play, and seeing their own child as the best of the lot.

G. George, the author of Another Job, and me, standing in front of
a promotional banner for his book outside the Library.
One of the beaming writers was G. George, who wrote the spiritual novel Another Job, the story of a family who suffers through the sort of trials and tribulations that afflicted the Biblical Job, a man whose faith in God was tested sorely, who not only had to suffer the ills tossed him by the Devil, but also the best intentions of his friends. G is a good example of the writer who believes in himself and his book, and is not shy about promoting both. Outside the Library he erected a very large promotional screen and displayed some posters, and was passing out some very well-designed book-markers to everyone as we waited in line to be processed in. No matter what you think of his book (and it seems great to me from what I've read so far) it's hard to argue with such enthusiasm and confidence. G's book is available in hardcover, softcover, and as an e-book, from your local bookstore (if you still have one near you) and the current Goliath of booksellers, Amazon.

Most books were displayed flat in  floor cases

The Pros
Some of the books were spotlighted in smaller cases

Someone mentioned "free food" and authors came running; the only thing that would have caused a bigger rush is if someone had said "free booze"
The medal

More display cases, and the authors in line to be awarded their medals.

The most interesting aspect of the evening to me was the increase in the number of writers present and books written over years past. When I was still with the Friends of the Library and was responsible for writing the checks (neither the City nor the Library uses tax money for this), the number of books submitted was well under two hundred, and had decreased from the previous year. Not being involved with the planning of this year's event I was caught unawares, and was a little shocked, by the increase. What's the reason for it? Well, it's certainly not the economy -- moribund is much too optimistic a description of current conditions, and at least 40% of the population is unemployed. And it can't be because of a surfeit of bookstores -- Borders bit the dust, as did Waldenbooks, and Barnes & Noble just announced they're closing at least 60 stores. Are people reading more? I know that people who had given up reading are now getting back into the habit, and mostly because of e-books. And self-publishing is now easier and more economical (especially on Amazon's Create-Space platform) and is not considered such a banal act of vanity as it once was. Then there's social media, which can spread information about a new book just as fast as friends, and friend-of-friends-of-friends, can click "like." Even well-established authors find it beneficial (even necessary) to have a Facebook page. Regular readers know I have often decried the rise of electronic publishing, considering it a factor in the end of civilization as we know it; while my Luddite heart still tells me I am right, it also seems to be whispering, "It may not be all that bad after all."

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