Today, I was at the Word on the Street Fair, in Vancouver. This day-long celebration of reading and writing was born in Toronto over twenty years ago, but has since expanded to other Canadian cities. Each year, all cities hold the event on the same day.
This was my sixth year at the fair and I never grow tired of it. This event is not just about selling books—although that’s a bonus—it’s about meeting friends, new and old, and discussing books, conventions, writers, and publishers, and all other writing-related things. It’s about sharing the love of reading with strangers.
The fair hasn’t changed much over the years and still has plenty to offer everyone: kids’ tents, a tent for poets to read aloud, and two more for novelists and nonfiction writers. One thing I’ve noticed since first attending in 1996 was the growth of graphic novels and comic books. I don’t remember them being much of a presence back then, but these writers now fill one very large room.
Technology has also changed the event a little. This year, Margaret Atwood was reading live from Toronto, yet Vancouver fans could participate in a question and answer session. They also could have their copies of her latest, The Year of the Flood, signed by Atwood using LongPen technology.
It was good to see colleagues again. Many of them travelled a fair distance to get there, but I think all would agree it was worth it. We sold some books, promoted Crime Writers of Canada (you do know there is such an organization don’t you?) caught up on each others’ lives, and exchanged smiles with tons of people on a gorgeous sunny day. What more could one ask for?
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