The Dealers room.
There was much grumpiness in relation to the dealers room. I had a bit of a pre-con grump here and angriest kindly did all he could to sort it out behind the scenes. In so doing, unfortunately, I discovered more issues that I was until then unaware. And I appreciate all he did to try and fix these things but ... they caused a lot of personal upset, general small press table upset and general hucksters upset. And in the interests of next year I think we should discuss em.
Early on I learned there was not to be a dealers room at Swancon. Given the number of tables that ended up trading throughout the con and the fact that it was a Natcon this year, I cannot understand why there was not a dealers room. Presses come to a con, particularly Natcon, specifically to trade and in the hopes of doing the main trade for the year. They become less that impressed when it feels like at every turn their ability to optimise their sales seem to be being deliberately limited. Some examples, I guess:
- at the exceedingly last minute I discovered I was supposed to find and collect an envelope that would tell us our roster for the weekend. We didn't get to have the same space and same set up every day and for one day we were supposed to be upstairs trading. Except, even though I did manage to find my envelope and locate that Sunday we were upstairs ... the space was double booked for that slot. (I gotta be honest, the whole thing was such a farce by this point).
- we were not allowed to keep our space for the full con. We were also told to be set up by 9am and packed up by 5pm. We were the only table that did this. This meant that we had to find somewhere to store all our boxes and other things every day or else pack our car each night and unpack it in the morning. Thank you to Alex and Lucy and Edwina who let us store 10 boxes and 15 bags every night in their hotel rooms. It would have been so much worse without you. And also thank you to all those people who helped us pack and carry boxes up and and down the lifts and to and from cars - Tehani did most of it, but also Russ, Liz, Alex, Kathryn, Dirk, Rob and Simon and whoever else I forgot. My apologies if I did forget you, it was all so flustered and rushed. On top of this ... getting in and set up by 9am nearly very well killed me. We didn't get home before 2am each night and had to debrief and check email of course. Then get up at 7.30 to be in at the hotel by 8.30. I was like a walking zombie by the end. If I stood still too long I would start to drop off.
- I had asked if we would be able to bring posters for advertisements and was told we could not. So I didn't bother to print any up. However, obviously Harper Collins were not told this and for the first day of the con we got to have our table in front of their wall of posters and field questions all day long about their books. And that we weren't selling them
- there was no Dealer Room. I mentioned this already. Instead we got to loiter in an in between room that led to the main panel rooms. On the first day that meant standing all day in front of a vent or draught that brought the icy winds of Antarctica. It also meant that we got knocked around by the doors to the panel rooms constantly opening and closing and generally got in the way. However, I think my absolute favourite moment was when someone came out from inside the panel room and told us to be quiet because we were being too noisy. Here's a suggestion for next year: Have a dealers room.
I'm not going to go into the rest but I think it would be fair to say that most, if not all the hucksters, felt screwed around and talked down too and unwanted. Hucksters form an important component to a con - please don't exclude us or make us feel like a hindrance. Many complained of slow trade and I really do believe it was for many of the reasons above. If it's no longer worthwhile to trade, they/we won't come and what's a SF con without books and merchandise?