Book fairs are dangerous

Do you ever get carried away in bookshops or at bookfairs, and buy far more than you’d planned?

Is it consumerism, or bibliophilia? I like to think that, because books are objects of learning, my book-buying binges are a positive thing. But am I deceiving myself? Am I really no different from those people breaking down the doors of Primark in the Boxing Day sales?

Anyway, you can see what I bought at Saturday’s book fair, part of the Bim Literary Festival at Queens Park in Bridgetown, Barbados. Some were signed by the author, like Winston Farrell’s Bustin’ the Blues and Courttia Newland’s short-story collection Music for the Off-key.

Both were writers I’d heard performing the night before at Bim Rock Variations, and as I liked their work I was happy to buy something and have a chance to chat briefly with them.

I also picked up another book by Kendel Hippolyte, Birthright, but although I saw him around the place I never got a chance to ask him to sign it. It’s a shame because the inscription he put in the front of the other book I bought from him the day before was the nicest I’ve ever seen:

The lover of the word completes the circle which the poet started.

It makes me feel very uncreative for the way I usually sign copies of my novel:

Best wishes

There was a full programme of events, but it was more relaxed than the three-hour poetry marathon the night before. It was a sunny afternoon in the park, and I moved around from tent to tent, listening to readings, chatting to authors and stall-holders, and, of course, buying more books!

I was too relaxed to take notes on what I was listening to, so I won’t go into a detailed breakdown of all the events, but here are some images of it. The authors you see in the photos are Glenville Lovell, Karen Lord, Austin Yearwood and Kerry Belgrave.

This was the final event of Bim Literary Festival 2012, for me at least. I skipped the readings by Derek Walcott, as I was all Walcotted out after a previous encounter. There was also an event in the countryside on Sunday, but I don’t have a car here and it would have been hard to get to by public transport.

In any case, three days were enough for me, and I feel as if I have a better idea now of the literary scene here in Barbados. A lazy afternoon in the park was a great way to finish it all off. Hope you enjoyed the series of posts on Bim Literary Festival 2012! For a roundup of other posts in the series, click here.

12 thoughts on “Book fairs are dangerous

  1. I get carried away all the time and I guess it’s a bit of everything. Consumerism, addiction, bibliophilia.
    I love Jean Rhys, the rest I don’t really know.
    “Walcotted out”.. 🙂

    1. Yes, I don’t think it’s a bad thing really – just got me wondering. Also when I buy so many at once, the danger is that I buy more books before I’ve read all these, and I end up with a whole shelf of books I’ve never read! I’m trying to avoid that. We’ll see if it works… The Jean Rhys book I’ve been meaning to read for ages! Most of the others are new to me – I’ll try to get around to reviewing some of them on here so you can get an idea of what they’re like.

  2. Hey Andrew, you kept that quiet, didn’t know I’d met a fellow writer! Many thanks for the support anyway, it’s very tough to stop buying books and I’m glad to be one on the pile… Maybe see you at the next Bim Fest…

    1. Hi Courttia, Yeah I kept it quiet! To be honest I was enjoying not being a writer for a day – it was good just to relax and see things from the other side, and not have the pressure of giving a reading or wondering if anyone would buy my books 🙂 Was good to meet you. I was on a panel with Alex Wheatle a while back and he spoke really highly of your writing, so I’d been meaning to read more of your books. Look forward to seeing your new one next spring!

  3. I can certainly relate. I took a trip to New York back in March and bought several books. I’ve read about 75% of them at this point, but obviously I over-consumed. And that was just a result of visiting a new book store, not even a book festival.

    I enjoyed reading this post. Is Barbados a particularly literary place or do your interests and writing just make it seem that way? Excuse my ignorance, I’ve never been there.

    1. Hi Brandon

      Ah, New York has some great book stores – at least it did when I lived there (I dread to think how many of them have gone out of business now). Which one did you go to?

      No, I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly literary place – it just seems that way on this blog at the moment because the festival’s been in town and I’ve been engrossed in it 🙂 I haven’t seen too many other literary events taking place here – doesn’t mean there haven’t been any, but I haven’t been aware of them.

      If you’re interested in reading a good Barbadian novel, I’d recommend In the Castle of My Skin by George Lamming. It’s an old book now but a good one – I reviewed it here.

        1. The Strand is fantastic! Used book stores sometimes have a slightly random collection, but The Strand is so huge that they have everything there. You’re excused the over-consumption. Under the circumstances, it would have been abnormal not to over-consume 🙂

    1. Yes, it seems it happens to many of us. Thanks for linking to Max’s post – he made some good points. I’ve tried various systems myself, but with little success. Still, there are much worse things to be addicted to than books!

  4. That is a nice collection of books you got at the book fair, Andrew! Happy Reading! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them. I used to go on frequent book-buying-binges before. But these days I have stopped doing that. I buy one or two books online sometimes, when I want to read a particular book. I think I have exhausted all my book-buying enthusiasm. It is like reading a favourite passage from a book again and again and after a while, the passage ceases to have its original beauty. I am feeling a bit sad at times about it, but at other times I am happy, because now I will atleast focus on reading the unread books I have rather than buying new ones.

    1. Your approach sounds good, Vishy. I wonder if buying online has made a difference. I think my binges used to be more frequent in the old days too. Part of that was an idea of scarcity – when I saw a book I liked, I bought it because I didn’t know when I would see it again. These days, almost every book is easily available on Amazon or other similar sites, so there’s not that same motivation. Also when I buy online, I tend to be more focused – just go in and order the book I want and sign off. I don’t browse Amazon the same way I’d browse a physical bookshop, and so I don’t make as many impulse purchases. Amazon tries to instigate that by its recommendations and “you might like…” boxes, but it doesn’t work the same, for me anyway.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts as always! I definitely agree that it’s better to focus on reading the books you have, rather than buying new ones!

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