Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scranton's "Pages and Places" Book Expo

I always enjoy killing my one weekend day off in a blur of bookish things. Usually, I'm heading out to Bethlehem every other month for their big library basement sale, or Allentown for the Fall AAUW book sale. It's not often that truly big book events find their way out by my neck of the woods.

I've known about the Scranton "Pages and Places" Book Expo since last year - though its first appearance was the year before that - but at the time I just didn't feel the draw. This year, however, I thought I would take the 30 minute drive out there and take a peek.

Were there Pages? Yes. Yes there were. An average amount of books - both fiction and non-fiction - mostly about local events and history, by local authors it would seem.

Were there Places? Uhm... sure. Ok. You could say that places were brought to you, I suppose. But you really didn't go places, unless you count crossing the street as "going places"...

Was it truly a Book Expo? Sadly, I didn't think so. It was an incredibly small event. I wish I could say it was small in a cozy way, but really, it wasn't. Only a handful of publishers were on display outside - Harper Collins being the only one I'd even heard of - though perhaps that had something to do with the weather? It was chilly and gray and the clouds were moments away from drenching the handful of passerby's meandering in the square. And I know that Harper has a warehouse somewhere in the belly of Scranton so it was really only a hop, skip, and jump from the expo to their front door.

I wish it had been more like the Brooklyn Book Festival... with hundreds of vendors, and endless free panels to attend featuring larger named authors. Perhaps they are building up to that? Sloooooowly?

The Book Expo also boasted a Civil War street fair, sure to entertain the entire family with things like face painting, sidewalk chalk art, and activities for the little ones. There was a guy juggling balls, and some ladies dressed up in period costumes, and a blanket laid out in the grass with the instruments, games, and utensils they used back during the war. While I thought it was meh at best, my little guy found a way to kill some time by drawing Spongebob and Patrick, snubbing all of the other arts and crafts they had on offer.

The highlight of the entire event was sneaking across the street to the Northern Light Expresso Bar, snagging a hot drink, and meeting Laura Ellen Scott - author of the newly released Death Wishing! We had been talking about "Pages and Places" on Twitter the night before and exchanged numbers, and I was very much looking forward to chatting with her about her book, and the website she created as an extension of the novel, Wish Tank (if you scroll down to wish #12, you'll see mine!!!) .

She was extremely warm and wonderful, and gave me some insight into how and why she wrote the book. We also discussed the workshops she teaches, and Stephen King, and Steve Himmer... and she replaced my arc copy of her novel with the published paperback and signed it for me.

When Laura headed out to one of the expo's ticketed workshops, I decided to split. And not a moment too soon, either. As I was driving out of Scranton, big fat raindrops began spattering across my windshield.

Do I think I would go back to Scranton's "Pages and Places" Book Expo next year? Most likely not. Though I could be persuaded to return if there was another opportunity to hang out with an author or two.... it is just around the corner, after all.

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