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post Zoomer mortem

Okay, let’s get this over with: I learned a valuable lesson today. One I should have known, since I’m 64 @#$# years old and surely know myself by now. Where in God’s name did I get the idea that sitting at a booth at a consumer show aimed at elderly people would be worth a considerable investment of time and money? Well, both of my books are just right for this demographic, people 55 and up who remember Beatlemania or might want to write about their lives. So setting up at the Zoomer Show seemed to make sense.

It’ll take me a while to recover. I’m afraid I found it humiliating and unpleasant. Streams of people came by, poked at the book while Michelle and I told them what it was, moved on. They were indeed there for free stuff, and there wasn’t even much of that. People told me how much they loved the Beatles and moved on. One guy harangued me because he had partied with Pink Floyd who were much more fun to party with than the Beatles. When I suggested he might like to write about his fun with Pink Floyd, he replied, “I’m not that hard up for something to do.” And moved on.

I understand now that what’s needed at a vast event like this are huge clear banners explaining exactly what you offer and why people should be interested. I was the only solo person among hundreds of companies. ShelfGenie. The Toronto Symphony. The Canadian Wellness Alliance. ComfyComfy Canada. Low Carb Canada. New Millennium Living Ltd. Vitarock. And … Basic Funerals, the Canadian Transplant Society, Affordable Cremation Options … And Beth Kaplan, Author.

I’m sure it’s a good idea to bring all these offerings together, but I have to tell you, it’s depressing. It seemed to be mostly people wandering around looking for something free to eat. Oh, also getting a free flu shot which I would have done too but the lineup was too long. The highlight of the day was a visit from Anna, Eli and Anna’s friend Matt. I left Michelle in charge and walked around with them, and of course, Eli found fun – some doggies, a big blue car, a fascinating lawn bowling demonstration. And then they left, and after the Beatles tribute band, the Abba tribute band and the BeeGees tribute band, the Fleetwood Mac tribute band had just started when I said to Michelle, Let’s go home. And we packed up.

In six hours we sold eleven books to seven people at a discount price, and at the end, a woman rushed up and said the book she’d bought had been stolen, so I gave her another. I will remember with the greatest pleasure Mari-Ann, who is a huge reader and was thrilled with both books, and the two women roaming together in power wheelchairs, one who wants to write and one who’s a mad Paul Girl, so they each bought a book. It gave me pleasure to meet them, and I thank them for their interest. And I am glad to know I will never do that kind of thing again.

The spider in her lair. My basic decor – card tables, blow ups of the covers, my Beatles t-shirt collection. People tried to buy the t-shirts.

The Beatles tribute band. When the crowd streamed away after the concert, Michelle and I madly handed out flyers about the memoir. Not one of these hundreds bought a book.

The competition selling plaid long johns next door.  And below – my joy, and a big blue car.



2 Responses to “post Zoomer mortem”

  1. theresa says:

    Oh,, Beth, it sounds awful (but it also makes a good story). I had a similar experience years ago when a bunch of "local writers" were offered the opportunity to have a book table in a mall near the prestigious writers festival where none of us had been invited that year. We paid for a table. And it was utterly humiliating. No one bought a thing. And I had to smile and smile and pretend it didn't matter. Never again…

  2. beth says:

    I guess we all have to do it once, Theresa – pretend we're in the real world of retail. And yes, with the Pink Floyd guy I knew right away – here's a story. What made it worse was that when I got home – having lost money and and broken my framed Paul picture which will have to be repaired – when I'd carried the giant pile of stuff into the house, my radio was on and Shelagh Rogers was interviewing Ann-Marie Macdonald. Who can attract a huge fan base just by breathing. It just takes the touch. Mais c'est la vie.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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