Gothenburg Book Fair

i-fa3e01e82271d2e0d5c449ad58d3f900-bokmassa lores.jpg

I visited the Gothenburg Book Fair for the first time because of my new book. The Academy of Letters needed people to put on the Researcher's Square stage, and conveniently one of their staff had just published a book with them - me. When the local organiser saw me she did a double take because I was way younger than she had come to expect from the Academy.

The book fair, as I understand it, exists to let publishers and writers communicate with each other and their customers, and also to entertain and inform these customers. The main convention hall is packed with display booths and throngs of people. Often someone in the booth, preferably a celebrity, talks to the standers-by on a mike, and so the din is pretty awful. Giving my 15-minute stage presentation felt like I was at a cattle market, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the audience reacted as if they heard what I said and found it interesting. (You have no idea how much audience love you can get just by not reading from a script.) I also had ample time to check out the booths of those few organisations that interest me and talk to acquaintances, and spent most of today handing out leaflets for the Swedish Skeptics. My voice, already shaky from a cold, is in shreds.

Largely, I felt about the book fair like I feel about the magazine racks at news agents. Sooo much stuff that I don't give a damn about or feel actively hostile towards. In fact, I find that the whole Swedish-language media business is of little interest to me, which made it all the more incomprehensible how the reading public adores a lot of these writers and journalists and broadcasters. There was just any number of these strictly Swedish celebs around, people on bar stools in booths that I am aware of but do not give a flipping shit about. I don't know if their books are any good and I am not tempted to find out because they treat themes of no interest to me. So the best moments of my Gothenburg stay were time spent with my skeptical peeps and other friends.

Thinking about it though, I realise that the reason that I'm so down on the Swedish media is that I can't help receiving them to some extent full-spectrum, indiscriminately. I would hate the UK media if I lived in the UK and the US media if I lived there. It's just that with them, from here, I can partake selectively. The great majority of Anglophone media products, that would leave me bored or angry, never cross my horizon.

More like this

I am glad you found a lot of interested people, I hope many of them buy the book.
Did you network with anyone who is into gaming, Tolkien or Lovecraft?

Bookstores always present the problem of finding the good stuff hidden among crap, and a book fair must magnify this problem a hundredfold.

On the subject of celebrities at the book fair, punk rock icon Nina Hagen is there on account of her biography. Apparently she found God -literally- during an LSD trip when she was 17. I would have mocked anyone else making that statement, but this is just Nina Hagen being herself.
Also, she is now bigger than pope Ratzinger, who has only communicated with God through intermediaries...

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 24 Sep 2011 #permalink

Nothing more inbred than Kultur Sverige. I agree that some British and US culture is also that way, but the solution I have found is not to own a TV. That way you can filter out the vast marojity of crap and stream anything interesting that you've missed online.

Birger, no gaming or Tolkien, but several mentions of Lovecraft, for instance at the Vertigo publishing house's booth. Though they mostly sold written porn.

Nick, the TV I see passively from my desk over the shoulders of my wife & daughter is awful. I particularly hate the talent show judges.

The cover for Vertigo's Lovecraft collection was designed by none other than the great venerable Professor Anka. I think he nailed it nicely!

Indeed! I also admired his cover art for one of Anastasia Wahl's smutty Klitty mysteries, with a phallic rocket.

Kitty? Is this the same that is called "Nancy Drew" over in`Merica? Those fifties book covers were not very subtle in their symbolism.

While the celebs attract all the media attention real Swedish news like the example below will pass under the radar (I read news about cancer- and Alzheimer's research because of its wide public health impact)
"New treatment discovered for severe form of skin cancer"

"Anka"...I am tempted to mention an idiot celeb but I will give it a pass.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 26 Sep 2011 #permalink

So you're describing your performance at a media event for your new book without linking to it on amazon? A for integrity, F for marketing ;).

Look at that! It's actually on Amazon! But they only link to Eddy Ltd who distribute the book anyway. Click the book cover in the side bar to order.