Oh, just one more thing. My wonderful hubby volunteered to come along and video for me. This was an amazing thing for him to since he usually finds these types of events painfully boring and will avoid them at all costs. I have to be honest though - he's not a great videographer. He recorded the entire session on our video camera by sitting it on a chair for the duration. He also used our digital camera to record a few clips for me to post on my blog. Those clips are a bit ... um ... bumpy.... Hopefully none of you come away with a headache!
The panel was titled Read Street: The Changing Landscape of Book Reviews and Coverage of the Literary Arts. The three panelists were Dave Rosenthal and Nancy Johnston, The Baltimore Sun’s “Read Street” Bloggers, and myself. We were introduced by Gregg Wilhelm, executive director of The CityLit Project (you can read more about this great organization here).
Video 1 begins with Gregg finishing his intro and continues with Dave discussing The Sun's new blog, Read Street. I'm on the far left, Nancy is in the center.
Poor Nancy, her microphone wouldn't stay up. The video ends just as Dave begins explaining the decline of advertising money available to newspapers today. In our Q&A time at the end one audience member brought this subject up again. He wanted to know why publishers weren't pushing for more coverage of their books by purchasing advertising space. Dave's response was (basically) that advertisers go where the return-on-investment is, and they just aren't seeing it in printed media.
The second video begins with Dave introducing me and continues with me speaking about my blog. There is quite a bit of noise in several parts because delivery trucks (aka golf carts) were passing by our tent. The video ends just as Nancy begins to talk - sorry Nancy!
In our Q&A later one man mentioned that he was "not comfortable with all this personal opinion" that blogs seem to be all about; he preferred reading the professional reviews because he feels they are not personally biased. I responded that of course he has that option, it's all a matter of preference. I further explained that as a consistent blog reader I get a feel for each blogger's taste in books and who I can rely on to recommend books that I like. Dave came back to this topic later, saying that getting reviews from blogs is a lot like getting book recommendations from your neighbors - some you just shrug off because they really don't know your taste and others you trust to recommend really great books.
Here's one more video for you - it's me talking about the amazing blogging community and the variety of people who read my blog (you!). I got myself a bit confused though, and I'm going to correct that error here. I mention that I have a reader in South Korea but she does NOT get most of her books from family members. That's another blogger, and I can't for the life of me remember who of you it is ... oops. [Update: Thanks to her comment I now remember that this is the blogger whose family brings her books!]
Again it cuts off just as Nancy starts to talk. You can tell hubby was focused only on what I had to say! The point Nancy was making is that Read Street is all about the community; she and Dave want input from their readers regarding the topics they should be blogging about.
One the whole the panel went very well. There were just two things that I wasn't happy with.
First, the turnout was low and not widely varied. Honestly, I expected a small group simply because the weather was crazy all weekend - most people didn't want to risk the rain (it ended up being a gorgeous morning though). But I had hoped that some more "tech-savvy" people would be there. In my opinion, the title of the panel drew a specific group of people. The majority of the audience were there to hear about the newspaper itself and were unfamiliar with blogging. That made it difficult to connect with them in my opinion. For those of you who have blogs, you know how it is trying to explain what you do to non-bloggers! Although is seemed that most people were open to learning about blogging, I can't tell if they "got it" or not.
Second, there was one audience member who dominated the Q&A with some rather angry remarks. He was adamantly against a newspaper allowing comments on a blog without verifying the identity of those commenting first. Basically he was questioning the integrity of The Baltimore Sun for even allowing comments on their blog. I respect the right of each person to his/her own opinion, but I would have preferred if this particular person had shown some of that respect to the other panelists as well. Another audience member did try to engage this guy in a conversation by making an opposing point, but the helpful guy was basically slammed by the angry guy. Yeah, there will always be ONE person who messes it up for everyone. I thought that Dave and Nancy handled the situation in the best way possible.
A few other things to note ...
- Throughout the weekend I gave my card (with my blog name) to each of the authors I met, letting them know that I'd be posting video from their talk on my blog. They were all grateful for the extra publicity.
- After giving my card to one author, I was approached by the woman in charge of that particular tent. She wanted a card as well and wanted to talk further about my blog. She's the head of a literary organization here in Maryland and may want me to speak at her tent at next year's festival; the panel topic would be new ways for authors to promote their work. We'll see if she contacts me.
- After our panel, Dave met someone from the Baltimore Chapter of the Maryland Writers Alliance who asked the three of us (Dave, Nancy, and I) to speak at their meeting later this month. Nancy's job at the newspaper is an evening thing so she can't make it, but Dave and I will be there. It's set for Oct. 27th and the topic is basically the same as at the book festival - declining in-print reviews and the growth of blogging.