Why do people go to book fairs when they can just order books online? Actually, why are they still buying physical copies when they can immediately buy the electronic version? Because book fairs are the best way to discover new books, authors and generally have a great time.
In essence, book fairs arrive as part trade-fair and part shopping opportunity with a lot of other fun things thrown in the mix. Publishers and authors promote their new releases and offer the public an opportunity to view their latest works in a single space. It is a book store on steroids.
Navigating a book fair can be overwhelming for the newbie, and even seasoned visitors need to have some sort of plan to make the most of their visit. And with the upcoming Kuwait International Book Fair, we are letting you in on some of our favorite hacks and secrets to maximizing your time there.
We may have gotten a little help from our friends at That Al Salasil. They began operation in 1972 and are one of Kuwait’s biggest and oldest publishers and distributors. They are veterans of the Kuwait International Book Fair held at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds in Mishref and know their way around it. Every year, they work with a lot of local and international authors. And this year alone, they published sixty books in different genres from novels, non-fiction, poetry to children’s books.
Book fairs are a great way to meet your favorite authors. Book signings and talks are often scheduled, so make sure to check the website and calendar so you can meet and greet your literary heros. There are often readings, events and other things you might enjoy doing, so check for those too. Keep an eye on your favorite writers’ and publishers’ social media accounts to find out when and where they will be popping up.
Make a list the new way
Speaking of planning, a list comes in very handy, so you make sure you grab all the books you want to without forgetting any. You could always go old school and use pen and paper, or you could use GoodReads. The app is very useful for cataloging books you have read and want to read. The smartest option is the barcode scanner. So, you could easily scan the books as you browse and maybe decide later. Our list this year already includes Taleb Al Refai’s collection of short stories, Dark Grey; Reem Al Maei’s A Kuwaiti Woman In New York and lots more from That Al Salasil.
Wear the right shoes
Your cute stilettos should sit this one out. Fairs are quite large and your step-count will be substantial, make sure that your shoes are comfortable.
Bring an open mind
We all get stuck in our ways and stick to our preferred genres. But it is always fun and exciting to branch out. If that feels way out of your comfort zone try a genre-bender. If you love reading history, try historical fiction.
Most vendors and publishers will take cash or a debit card (That Al Salasil accepts both), but it’s always preferable to err on the side of caution. And you will definitely need a couple of dinars in change for snacks. PS. There’s an ATM machine right outside Hall Six.
No one ever says that fair food is the best food. Which is true, except for KDD’s soft serve. We love that stuff, it is childhood in a cone and the Kuwait International Fairground is one of the rare places where you can always find it.
Talk to people
Reading is a solitary activity. But most readers love discussing what they have enjoyed or gripe about what they didn’t. Don’t be afraid of asking the people around if they have read a book or what they think. Find out what they’re buying and share your list with them. Who knows? You might end up making a friend and adding a book or two to your shopping bag.
Go more than once
Don’t worry if you can’t get it all done in one day. Go again! Entry is free and all that walking around and buying book is great for your brain and body.
Find That Al Salasil’s booth at The Kuwait International Book Fair in Hall Six at the Mishref fairgrounds starting from the 14th-24th of November. Follow That Al Salasil on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat @thatalsalasil for the latest updates.
Featured image courtesy of That Al Salasil.