Part of my job at Crazy Wisdom is to work what they call offsites, which usually means a book festival or some other such gathering where we set up a table to sell books and spread the word of our existence. The tea room upstairs had a table set up at the Home Grown Festival in Ann Arbor, for example, and the day after, the book store had a table set up at the Kerrytown Bookfest.
None of us at the store, nor even anyone I spoke to, had heard of the Kerrytown Bookfest, yet this was their 10th year anniversary, and the first year our store had been invited to participate. None of us knew what to expect. I was intrigued at the prospect of both working a book festival, and checking out a book festival no one I encountered had heard of before. The location was the farmers' market, so outside, but covered in case the weather was bad. It wasn't, though. Chilly enough that I was grateful for my hoodie, but sunny and pleasant otherwise.
I arrived at the store early that morning, and we pulled all of our stuff over in a wagon, since Kerrytown is only a few blocks away. We set up our table, crowded with books, and I was shown how to take credit card orders with one of those metal card impression thingies. The last time I had to use one was during the Great and Mysterious Blackout of 2011. So having had experience, I felt pretty good about the day. There was a calculator for people who had cash, and a handwritten receipt pad with pretty clear tags about what I was to fill out.
The Kerrytown Bookfest wasn't just about books, at least from the vendor's side. It was about networking. We had a few local authors come to our table and ask how to get our store to carry their books. There was also a fellow from the University of Michigan's writing department who was spreading the word about a book and writing festival he's trying to get going (more about that as information comes to me).
On the little breaks I took to wander around and get something to eat and drink, I encountered a number of people - attendees and fellow vendors - who knew our store and were excited to see us represented at the festival. But it wasn't just a bunch of local bookstores out to showcase their wares, there were rare and used bookstores that had traveled from far off cities that I had never heard of (okay, probably not that far off considering Michigan isn't that large of a state), and more than a few craft vendors. I marveled over the creations of one woman who was crocheting adorable little monsters, aliens, and other creatures. I'm pretty sure one was an ood from Doctor Who! Another woman had knitted stuffed animals that could be turned inside out to become another animal, including an egg that turned into a bird and vice-versa.
For lunch I bought a made-to-order duck sandwich from the little lunch counter inside the Kerrytown shops and a caramel latte from Sweetwaters located across from the lunch counter. Sweetwaters might be my favorite Ann Arbor-local coffee shop, but it's a tough choice. Roos Roast is very delicious, though their shop is tiny and their offerings limited.
I didn't end up buying anything other than sustenance at the bookfest, but I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It's another one of those things I can't believe I got paid for. It affirmed for me that the book world is where I belong and where I love to be. Speaking with local authors was heartening and gave my hopes of more solid publications a boost. (Magazines and anthologies are all well and good, but I am selfish and want a book all to myself!)