An Update on Summer Possibilities
By Bruce McKinney
We now live in the internet age. This is the same age that just ten years ago was called the television age, which wrested the title from the "age of print" in the 1960s. The "age of information" of course scoffs at all these distinctions which it points out is just putting data in one pocket or another of the pants they have been wearing from the beginning of time. Where there is information there are continuing and generally always improving ways to organize it.
These "ages" though do not go easily into the night. They have their advocates and lovers who will, in the case of books, as well surrender an arm as give up their relationship to print. Print advocates do not exactly rage [to paraphrase D. H. Lawrence] but neither do they meekly accept that which comes next, Googlefication. They like the printed word in its many iterations and are prepared to seek it out at shows even if the frequency of such events decline and the distance between them increases. I'm speaking of course about book fairs, book shows, and their cousins once removed - storytelling fairs which provide the narrative without any wear and tear on the eyes.
Come summer, true believers are gassing up their Packards and Desotos and setting out - sometimes over great distances - across plains, up mountains, crossing a dozen zipcodes and more, to find groups, meetings and associations of the like-minded for whom the internet is a way to find a book fair, not a way to read a book. For these souls books and the printed word is a shared and sharing experience. For them, these fairs are the necessary proof, the needed evidence and reconfirmation that others share the same feelings, interests and needs. "I am not alone" is the unstated mantra of this receding generation that loves books but finds itself ever more distant from the new media, the new style, the new everything.
If the distances and periods between events increase so be it.
Fifty years hence those today under twenty will make similar journeys. They will bring their ancient iPhones and Blackberries, travel to mountaintops to commune with others for whom historical memory is clearer than the plan for tonight's dinner. They too will lament change and remember that things were better in the past. Their grandchildren will ask their Moms "why is Grampa so happy?" It will be hard to explain but understandable to the lucky group who feel the urge to be there, among friends, connecting with information in ways that resonate for them, they the Civil War reenactors of the 21st century information wars.
If you need to scratch a literary itch there are 23 events this summer in Japan, North America and Europe. You may buy nothing but gas and lunch but find communities of people who share your relationship to the printed word.
Here is a list of events this summer in disparate places such as Tokyo [where you can see antiquarian material of all descriptions] all the way to Vermont from where you can see Ben & Jerry’s.
Book fairs really are the magic of possibilities.
This list is in alphabetical order. For a list in date order click here.
Barnes & Noble Book Store
765 Rt. 17 South
Paramus, New Jersey
Aug 28 and 29
Book & Paper Advertising Show
17th & Chew Streets
Jul 31 to Aug 1st
Edinburgh International Book Festival
phone: 44 131 228 5444
Aug 15 to 31st
Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference
Jul 19 to 23
Festival at the Edge
July 17 to 19
Folk Humor, Storytelling and Cowboy Gathering
Mountain View, AR
Aug 7 and 8
Harlem Book Fair
New York, NY (W. 135th St.)
For more information http://www.qbr.com
Iowa Storytelling Festival
Clear Lake, IA
phone: 641-357-6134(Jean Casey)
July 24 and 25