You’ll want comfortable shoes. You will be walking around a lot, looking at everything, and your feet are supposed to be a help, not a hindrance. Give some attention to the rest of your outfit as well: yes, there’s air conditioning, but it is summer and, as mentioned, you’re going to be on the move. The number of places to sit down is limited (chairs sell nothing) and space is at a premium. So, again, think of your comfort when you dress.
For once, I am not telling you how to conduct yourself at our Book Fair. These are just some random bits of advice I bring back to you from my annual experiment in industrial espionage. Once again, I managed to find my way out to the Chicago Comicon. I don’t know whether I felt more sorry for the folks who dressed in Game of Thrones attire (bulky and multi-layered) or those who went for full authenticity in superhero suits (scanty and skintight. I believe one or two of them wouldn’t have DARED sit down.)
I attend this show for a number of reasons (no points to whoever just hollered, “Yeah, you mentioned two when you said scanty and skintight!’) I like to keep up to date on what’s new in protective bags for collectibles. (And to remind myself that ten year-olds at comic book shows know how to handle something in a comic book bag even if adults at the Book Fair do not.) It was at a Comicon eons ago that I found out about the Lucite cases in use in Collectibles every year at the Newberry, for example. And I like to look at how displays are handled, with an eye to what the Book Fair will look like in ten or so years, when WE need a space about the size of three football fields. (I do NOT think we can safely apply the technology used in those twelve foot high T-shirt booths. Someone with a long hook reaches up to fetch the shirt you like from the top row. Can’t see how that would work with books.)
Those costumes I mentioned are part of my studies as well. (Quiet, you in the back row.) It helps keep me up to date on what the trends are in pop culture. Last year, for example, there must have been seventy or eighty Harley Quinns wandering around. These were still numerous, obviously vying to show off the biggest…hammer, but they weren’t as dominant as last year. I didn’t see anything that had taken over the show. Lots of Game of Thrones outfits, as mentioned, but also plenty of Harry Potters and Lord of the Rings characters. Gandalf was apparently regretting the weight of his costume: I don’t know that the Japanese fan he was using made him the more authentic. And I saw a Hobbit, complete with curly hair on head AND feet. (He was about six feet tall, but he always had a sandwich in one hand, so at least he was in character.)
Beetlejuice and the Ghostbusters were well represented, but I think I also saw the Berenstain Bears. No Paddington this year, and I didn’t see anyone dressing as Winnie the Pooh in honor of the Christopher Robin movie. But Raggedy Ann was accounted for, as well as two people dressed as slices of bread, one girl dressed as a teacup, and a regiment of Civil War belles complete with crinolines and parasols (as bulky in their own way as all those Game of Thrones outfits.) Even if the characters from books were there mainly because of the movie versions, I think books were well-represented, and I did not see as many characters I just couldn’t place. (Saw three people dressed as tennis players, carrying rackets and boxes of breakfast cereal. This looks like an anime reference to me; let me know.)
Yes, I did my usual note-taking on DVD prices and comic book prices and things of more obvious Book Fair importance. You may see the result of all that next July. For now, just remember the advice on attire. (And be grateful that at least at the Newberry, you don’t have to worry about what someone thinks of your costume as they follow you up an escalator. If those of you in the back can’t stop snickering, you will have to go sit in the squirreling section.)