Over the course of the week I will be doing some short wrap up posts about the bookish year that was 2014. Today’s topic is the book signings that I physically worked at this year. This isn’t intended as an in-depth chat on the signings, but rather a short analysis wrap up of what they were like as a whole.
I’m lucky enough that my store is a big book trading store that sees a variety of authors come and go with signings. In the past I’ve been lucky enough to work at a book signing with authors such as Matthew Reilly, Julie Goodwin, Michelle Bridges, Andy Allen and Dr. Karl and a variety of others. All of them target adults as their readership and all of the signings have been a success in the past. What stood this year apart however was the diversity in authors that I got to meet and hand-sell books with, because this year we had children’s author Andy Griffiths, ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard, our yearly local and Australia’s favourite pop scientist Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, and three time Gold Paralympian Kurt Fearnley. All of which were extremely different book signings to host, but a lot of fun!
The biggest signing of the year: Andy Girffiths!
Our first signing was towards the middle of the year when Andy Griffiths came to the store the week of his launch for the 52 Storey Treehouse. I remember reading his books back when I was in school and was even fortunate enough to have him come to my primary school. I can still remember how much of a big deal that was back then! So when they announced that he was coming I was a bit excited (despite not having read his books for years!) and although I expected it to be a big signing, I never expected it to be as big as it was.
The first people hopped in line ten minutes after I started work for the day (three hours before he was expected in store) and that pretty much predicted how long the line would be. You read that right by the way, a three hour wait with a four-book-per-person-rule-in-place. The line was HUGE. It was a lot of fun though and I will never forget how adorable it was to see all the kids reading in line. At one stage they even stepped out of the line (and left their parents stranded) as all the kids armed with their books spread out through Intimate apparel and read. It was magical and something I’m not likely to forget in a while.
Andy was a trooper though and stayed virtually until close and promised to meet every single person in the line.
The most high profile signing: Julia Gillard
When I found out that Julia Gillard was coming in store I though they were joking. But following the two sold out talks in the area (as held by MacLeans Booksellers), there was clearly a huge number of people who were interested in Julia’s Biography. That said, there were a number of rude human beings who were also not so supportive of the day, but thankfully they stayed away while she was in store.
No matter what your political views are or how you feel about her time in power, it was still amazing to meet not only an ex-Prime Minister, but the first Female Prime Minister this country has ever had. As you can see from the pictures, I may have gotten a little star struck and made a fool of myself (I’m laying on the table for heavens above, but I promise you this wasn’t the most awkward photo taken that day); I’ve never spoken or met a PM before and it was just an unreal experience overall.
The hilarious ritual that is Dr. Karl
For as long as I’ve worked in the book department, we’ve had yearly signings with Dr. Karl and although I’m not big on science, it’s one of the things I look forward to the most with my job. Dr Karl is a straight forward man who insists on making science not only fun, but accessible to everyone. He is one of the kindest and most friendly beings I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet and like so many other people, I’m just in awe of his brain.
I do advise you however that if you ever go to ones of his signings make sure you take a camera! In the past Dr. Karl has favoured four poses that he will try and take with every single fan who approaches him. The first is the classic smile and wave, followed closely by the hand shake, bunny ears and finally the normal smile. This year Dr. Karl added in Charlie’s Angels to the mix as well. You can’t help but smile when this gentle giant (and he is a giant) is around.
My favourite signing of the year: Kurt Fearnley!
This was very much a last minute signing as far as I was concerned. In fact I didn’t find out about it until I was setting up for Dr. Karl in the morning (Sunday) that he was coming in on Wednesday! It was a difficult signing to promote because we received no advertising material (there wasn’t enough time) and the stress surroundings the arrival of the books (they arrived fifteen minutes before Kurt did!).
Pushing The Limits was one of our biggest selling sports biographies this year, and I’m a little ashamed to admit that as customer after customer asked for the book I had no clue who he was. I wasn’t aware that he was a local or what he’d done. But I could find the book. That is when we had it in stock, which was wasn’t often. For every delivery of this book, we’d sell out in a day or two at the most, it was simply that popular. However by sheer luck when I found out about the signing we had one copy left in stock, so I brought the book that day and read it the following night. It was amazing and I was in awe of not only what Kurt Fearnley has achieved in his lifetime, but the way that he approaches it all. Having devoured the book, I did everything in my power to promote the signing (including LONG PA speeches about what Kurt had achieved and what the book was about) and you know what it worked. This signing, despite having only 24 hours to promote it (from when I got time details etc) was an extremely successful signing. Although the line was never huge, it was consistent and it gave Kurt a break to chat with myself and my helper Nancy. I can honestly say I’ve never met another person as humble, as friendly and even as inspiring as Kurt.
And that dear readers was the four signings that I worked on this year and a little bit about the events themselves. I love working at the signings, but once they are under way its usually absolute chaos (in a good way), and I am usually happy and relieved when they end a matter of hours later. The joy of meeting so many different people both authors and readers a like who have similar likes and tastes is second to none though.