Today I visited two ends of the book lover’s spectrum. I began my morning in Decatur, Georgia, with a stroll through the Decatur Book Festival. The streets are blocked off to allow all pedestrian traffic, there are rows of tents and open air stalls, and it’s very much a street fair of books. There were many families out walking in the sunshine, and I passed a YA panel that was very lively and noisy. It was early in the day and the crowds were just arriving. People were selling catfish and fries, book marks, jewelry, and more books. There was a small town feel to it that was very pleasant and calming.
I wandered Decatur for a bit, enjoyed a sammitch at the Sammitch Shop, talked to book sellers and readers, bought some books, and then realized it was time to go back to Dragoncon for my autograph session and reading. So off I went, back to downtown Atlanta and Dragoncon. There I signed books for about 90 minutes, with plenty of time to talk to readers as I signed. I love unrushed signings! And the reading was very well attended, with a few hardy souls even standing in the back of the room.
After my events, I had plenty of time to wander Dragoncon again. I ogled costumes, listened to music, bought a Pandora Celtica CD, met up with friends old and new, went to a panel on leather mask making (I’ll have a few new tricks next time I try to stamp book marks), saw more puppets, art, books and T shirts and generally had a lively time with a very different slice of the book buying public.
I had a completely new experience, that is, standing in a long queue for the opportunity to get on an escalator! The hordes of people at the convention were mind boggling to me. I know that San Diego Comic Con was actually larger in terms of attendees, but Dragoncon really packed us in! And the energy was all good. Other than one small child who was very briefly lost and distressed, I really didn’t witness anyone in a cranky mood.
My final thought when I finally returned to my quiet Decatur hotel for the night. Here are two arts festivals, about 20 minutes apart, bringing together people in a good natured mob scene, and both pumping up the economies of the cities they are in. Nice to think that books, comics, movies and zombies can do that!