Recently, circumstances forced me to do a major reduction of my home library. It's hard for me to hold a decrepit paperback in my hand and say firmly to myself, "I read this forty years ago. Yes, I enjoyed it, but it's unlikely I will ever read it again. I need to release it into the wilds." So I have taken box after box after box of books to donate to the local second hand book store.
It wasn't just the fiction that I needed to reduce. With many a pang, I needed to thin my reference books to a reasonable level. Even when I know I can easily find a similar reference book in my local library (I much prefer print to internet searches for information) it's still hard to let them go.
Then I came to my travel books. Over the years, as I've visited conventions in different countries, I've acquired quite a few guide books to various places. I think I"ve visited London more than any other city, so I have quite a few guides in all sorts of hand sizes and form. But as I was thumbing through my book of London Walks, and then the set of handy cards that one can put into one's purse, and maps of Paris and tourist guide to Rome, my thoughts turned to the process of getting to those wonderful places.
I thought about airports. Security lines. The long flight across the US from Washington state to some east coast airport, often with multiple stops, and then the longer flight across the Atlantic, and then passport check and scannning the crowd to try to find whoever has been sent to meet me. And what came to me was more of a realization than a decision.
I'm not sure I can do those long cramped flights anymore. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would arrive in Italy or the Netherlands or France or Croatia in a state of total and grumpy exhaustion.
Not the image i want to project at a convention or festival.
In the last year, with reluctance, I've turned down some wonderful invitations to conventions in Europe. I've felt very wistful about that. I hope to make a virtual appearance at some of them, but it's not the same as meeting readers face to face and chatting and signing books.
I'd still like to do some US conventions, ones that I can drive to in a day or three, pacing myself so I don't arrive tired and cranky. I will confess that the gigantic conventions with thousands of people and movie stars and television actors and vast rooms of merchandise do not appeal to me as much as the smaller conventions that still focus on books and writers and illustrators. It seems to me there are not as many of those as there used to be, but some still exist. There is Potlatch-sf, a literary convention that migrates from Seattle to Portland and the Bay Area. Armadillo con. Foolscap. I'm sure there are more that I simply haven't heard about.
So if you know of an sf/fantasy convention within the US or Canada that still focuses on books and stories, I'd love to hear about it.