Monday, April 06, 2009

CBE - Disaster?

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her first espionage thriller, Dead Reckoning, will be released through Abingdon Press (Spring 2010). An active member of ACFW, Ronie serves as the Book of the Year coordinator and volunteers in various ways with ACFW. She also teaches creative writing at her local homeschool co-op. Visit Ronie at her website or her blog

You've heard it. I've heard it. "Christian Book Expo was a disaster."


I'm not even part of their staff and it hurts to hear those words. Christian Book Expo (held March 19-22, 2009) was designed to be the largest Christian book fair ever - with over 150 events including book signings, mini seminars, and and workshops. In the aftermath, many are voicing their thoughts about the CBE held in Dallas, and it's just not good. If you're interested, check out a couple of intelligent blogs that discussed this first-time event: Chip MacGregor's blog or Michael Hyatt's blog.

As I told my agent, Steve Laube, I can't go as far as calling it a disaster. Maybe it's the eternal optimist in me. Maybe it's the part of me that never wants anyone's feelings hurt. I don't know. But I saw a lot of things that were done right. Mark Kuyper had a very professional set up there at the Dallas Convention Center. The booths were well stocked with great product. Big names walked the carpeted floors. Vendors who normally don't have much exposure had the opportunity.

Unfortunately, as you can see from the photo of the WaterBrook/Multnomah booth (taken Saturday afternoon, at what "should" have been a high-traffic period), the event just didn't draw the crowds.

Working at the ACFW booth proved fascinating. I met many industry professionals and talked with them about the industry and about CBE, about what they saw that worked, what didn't. Some said they'd try again next year. Some won't.

Personally, I think CBE had an uphill battle: the economy (one in which consumsers aren't I won't rehash the cost analysis), the location (Hey, I live in the D/FW metroplex and know my way around...and I "hate" downtown), and this being the first year, the birth year for CBE.

All that aside, I applaud the effort. Something new was tried, and although there is a lingering sadness over its perceived failure, I think the opportunity still exists to break the barrier between authors/publishing houses and the readers. I sincerely hope ECPA doesn't abandon the concept, and I hope (for my selfish sake) that they keep it in the Dallas area since it's centrally located (okay, well, at least for us Texans it is).

I mean, where else can you see/hear/meet top industry names like Liz Curtis Higgs, Lee Strobel, Colleen, the list stretched to the Gulf and back. Then, top that with booksigngins by many, many authors (you can see me with one of my faves--MaryLu Tyndall and also another photo of Cara Putman and Colleen Coble).

Did you attend? What were your thoughts? I know that if they come back next year (please, please, please come back next year!!!!!), I will be there!


Dayle James Arceneaux said...

I live 8 hrs away and I really considered going. If it were any closer I would have.

I had assumed with a city the size of Dallas, there would have been large crowds.

Mary DeMuth said...

I assumed that too, Dayle, and I live here. Here are my reasons why it didn't attract many:


Inez said...

Oh dear - any book expo that isn't as good as expected is quite sad. I hope things get better soon!

Ronie Kendig said...

Yes, there were a lot of reasons why it lagged. I am really hoping they give it a go next year--with some changes. A lot of influential people in the industry had comments on it.