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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Web Cache Indicates AWP Did Announce That Their Book Fair Was Open to the Seattle Book-Buying Public

Posted by on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Yesterday, I told you the Association of Writers and Writing Programs announced that, bucking tradition, their enormous book fair would not be open to the public when the conference comes to Seattle next week, citing "Seattle tax reasons" as the cause. The Seattle book-buying public is very upset about this news, of course, but a lot of AWP exhibitors are upset, too. On social media, many of them have said that Saturdays, when the AWP book fair is open to the public, is their most profitable day by far. When I spoke with AWP director of conferences Christian Teresi, he said that AWP "never said the book fair was going to be open to the public." He asserted, "we’re not backtracking. We’ve always taken that on a case-by-case basis based on the municipalities we’re visiting. We’ve always announced publicly when we were able to make the book fair public."

Last night, Twitter user Patricia Lockwood found some information that seems to indicate that AWP did announce that the book fair was going to be public. Using the Wayback Machine, she searched the AWP archives to find a version of their "Bookfair Exhibitor FAQs" which was cached on April 24th, 2013. In no uncertain terms, the FAQ announces that the book fair will be open to the public:

Q: Is the Bookfair open to the public?
A: The bookfair is open to the public, free of charge, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.on Saturday, March 1. On Thursday, February 27 and Friday, February 28, only registered conference attendees and exhibitors may attend. Security guards will be posted at all bookfair entrances.

Here's the tweet:

Slog tipper Jason brought this to my attention, and he points out that when you look around in the AWP cache, "you'll notice someone there amended the FAQ [in the cache from] last August to remove the claim that the free public day would take place March 1 in Seattle." That could indicate that AWP knew that they would not be opening the book fair to the public for more than a half-year before today's announcement.

I called Christian Teresi for comment, but he has not gotten back to me. I'll update this post when he does. [UPDATE 2:17 PM: Teresi did get back to me; I've instead written a separate post.]

In other book fair news, the delightfully dogged Edward Champion spoke with a board member of AWP's executive committee. Champion discovered that the board learned that AWP's book fair would be closed to the public the same way we did—with yesterday's tweet. The board member said it came down to a vendor tax, that "Vendors wouldn't be taxed if all purchases were by members." The board had a meeting last night to discuss the issue. All of Champion's tweets are embedded after the jump.

Here's BuzzFeed's story on the AWP Book Fair mess, which includes some interview with exhibitors. I'll have more on this story as it develops.


Comments (6) RSS

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seandr 1
Thanks, Paul, for getting to the bottom of this riveting story.
Posted by seandr on February 18, 2014 at 11:26 AM · Report this
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 18, 2014 at 11:45 AM · Report this
bitchslap 4
So we're not invited to the circle jerk.
Posted by bitchslap on February 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM · Report this
Am I the only one interested in this story? =(
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 18, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Yet somehow they will sell passes to non-members and, I guess, collect taxes from them. Doesn't that mean they'd be doing this "tax non-members" dance already ? I'm confused.……
2014 Tax Information
General Guidelines
AWP bookfair exhibitors are responsible for complying with all applicable federal, state, and municipal regulations governing sales tax and collection, and, when required, for remitting sales tax in a timely manner.

Posted by ChefJoe on February 18, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
I have been very ticked about this issue. As a writer, I want to attend the book fair to see what publishers are out there and what they are doing, and I would inevitably purchase my weight in books, too. But I guess I won't be allowed, unless I pay the $120 for craft talks I'm not interested in attending. Also, I work, and Thursday is the only day I can attend. I would be happy to pay a reasonable fee to attend the fair portion... but I guess, along with the rest of Seattle, I will be left out in the rain. Really?
Posted by Cindyaw on February 25, 2014 at 11:05 AM · Report this

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