Yes, people. A gold mine of information too, but mostly people, and for me, my visit on Tuesday was definitely a day well spent. But did it work as a trade show?
My first planned port of call was the SPCK stand down in the Esher Hall, but one of my first encounters was with Steve Briars, Exhibition Director, who happened to be standing by the Info Desk when I arrived. Unfortunately someone else dragged him away before we had a chance to chat, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him and the rest of the team for an event that, for me personally, worked much better than I’d expected.
Heading down into the Esher Hall I was delighted to discover the Just Cards Direct stand. I spent a while chatting with Anne Horrobin, who told me all about the project’s card-making work providing employment for impoverished communities in Africa.
Well worth supporting and a win-win-win deal on a superb range of cards. We’d exchanged emails before and it was good to meet the person behind the messages. Watch this space for a special guest appearance from Anne next week.
After that it was a whirlwind trip of friendly faces (kept bumping into other members of the BA Christian Booksellers Group Committee) and encouraging feedback on my blogging here and at SPCK/SSG combined with frustrations at poor signage (Steve, please take note) and not enough time to catch up with everyone I’d hoped to.
Eventually, however, I made it to the SPCK stand, where it was a particular pleasure to meet Raymond Witty, who very kindly treated me to a coffee and flapjack. Raymond is one of the victims of the ongoing SPCK/SSG Bookshops saga (new to the story? Start here), former manager of the Carlisle shop, but now employed as a sales rep by SPCK publishing. Take heart all ye booksellers who’ve been worrying about the apparent demise of the CPR sales force!
Onwards and upwards through the maze until I stumbled into the CBC area to touch base with the mob from Authentic Media (best goody bag of them all), the Booksellers Association, Clem Jackson & Co from Christian Marketplace, STL, Torch Trust for the Blind (free counterstand with bookmarks), Zondervan and so many others that I’ve lost track.
Time for a breather with coffee and cakes with a fantastic view across Sandown Park up in Grandstand Box 1 with Steve Chalke courtesy of Zondervan (invitation only: my thanks to Ian Matthews). Steve gave us a brief intro (is 20 minutes brief? These days I’m only used to 10 minute sermons and 140 character tweets) to his new project, Apprentice: Walking the Way of Christ. As well as a book there’s a full set of small group study materials in the form of a DVD and Participants Guide. Steve’s basic premise seemed to be that people don’t learn by being talked at: we need to be engaged and involved; but that didn’t seem to stop him talking at us. Oops: nuff said. Look out for the Apprentice Tour coming up in September.
Unfortunately the timing of this session clashed with the BA CBG ‘Trade Forum’ sessions which, I’m told, were very poorly attended with only about 25 or so people present for Krish Kandiah‘s Keynote Address.
Coffee with Steve Mitchell helped to clear the air with respect to some of my recent posts about STL and I take this opportunity to offer my unreserved apologies to Steve and the STL blog team for any misunderstandings that may have arisen. Rest assured guys: we’re on the same side and I want to see STL succeed in its mission as much as you do. There’s an open invitation to you all to respond to any of the issues raised here: please do feel welcome to join in, and please remember that guest posts addressing specific topics or simply introducing yourselves are always very welcome.
Last but not least: the balloons were out for a very enjoyable champagne reception with Hodder to celebrate 30 years of the NIV. Ian Metcalfe, Wendy Grisham and Keith Danby joined forces to extol the virtues of what Keith hailed as “the most read and most trusted” Bible version. Most read: probably. Most trusted? Sorry to be a party pooper guys, but here’s an excerpt from Tom Wright’s latest book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, pp.35-36:
When the New International Version was published in 1980 [sic], I was one of those who hailed it with delight. I believed its own claim about itself, that it was determined to translate exactly what was there, and inject no extra paraphrasing or interpretative glosses. […] Disillusion set in over the next two years, as I lectured verse by verse through several of Paul’s letters, not least Galatians and Romans. Again and again, with the Greek text in front of me and the NIV beside it, I discovered that the translators had had another principle, considerably higher than the stated one: to make sure that Paul should say what the broadly Protestant and evangelical tradition said he said. […] if a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about. […] those blown along by this wind may well come to forget that they are reading a visibly and demonstrably flawed translation…
If you haven’t read Justification yet, do go pick up copy: it’s worth every penny. Wright writes magnificently, and it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve rarely enjoyed reading theology as much as I enjoyed this book.
Back to CBC, however: did it work? Like the proverbial curate’s egg, it was good in parts. Free admission for all retailers, for starters, is not to be sneezed at. But the mixed array of trade and consumer stands did cause confusion, especially as exhibitors did not appear to have been briefed about retailers’ different coloured badges. Several times I found myself being presented with standard consumer patter about products followed by prospective suppliers looking bemused and a complete change of tune when I asked about trade terms:
“Oh, are you a bookseller? Sorry — how are we supposed to know?”
“We’re wearing pink badges with a CBC09 logo,” I explained, “Joe Public are wearing white badges.”
Check out the #CBC09 twitter stream for behind the scenes conversations as the event happened. The comments thread on an earlier post brings in an interesting conversation with one publisher who wasn’t there, Lion Hudson, whilst Geoff Wallace (Maranatha, Uxbridge) and Melanie Carroll (Unicorn Tree Books, Lincoln) have each left some useful observations in their comments on my post CBC/CRE: If you can’t be there, follow the event stream #CBC09 #CRE09.
I close with a quote from Melanie’s comments:
I was in one way or another majoratively sidelined for the end user, my customer. Just like in piggy in the middle I was left standing bemusedly whilst I watched the ball being tossed out and over my head and tried desperately to work out how to catch it and get back in the game.