Thursday, 28 June 2012

Farewall my summer love...(a letter to the Edinburgh Book Festival)

Dear ebf

Your letter arrived this morning. It remains unopened. I am trying to be strong and I fear that if I even glance at it I will crumble.

Yes, I'm afraid it's over. I won't be spending my summer holidays with you this year.

Hey, we've had six fantastic summers together. I have some great memories. I can still recall the thrill of being first in the queue for my first ever Iain Banks event (and then getting a seat in the front row!). And I still feel pretty smug at having pulled off the same feat several times since! And of hearing Neil Gaiman read from one of his books for the first time. And seeing Alasdair Gray (and awesome supporting cast) in full flight performing Fleck. I could go on.


It's not you, it's me. Well OK, it's mostly me. But a little bit you. I've made a significant investment of time (and money) into our relationship over the years. Not that I regret any of it. But I've changed quite a bit over those six years. And you haven't. Not really. And maybe you shouldn't.

In those six years, I've seen the internet (and social media in particular) breaking down barriers and hierarchies. I've been introduced to unconferences and hacks and jams and the like. Truely interactive events. The result being that I just don't get very much out of the traditional book festival format anymore. I want to have a conversation. I'm just not willing to pay to sit passively and listen for an hour and then maybe get the opportunity to ask a question. However unrealistically, I expect a more frictionless interaction with my favourite authors these days. Fortunately, many are willing to interact with the likes of me on social media.

So, I guess I've just outgrown you. But the final straw? Well, you have to admit you had some significant personal hygiene issues last year. The lingering odour was getting to be a bit embarrassing. Not pleasant to be around at all.

There's no-one else in case you're wondering. I have no intention of flirting with the likes of Aye Write, or Word, or the Borders Book Festival. I am swearing off your kind entirely.

I do hope we can part on good terms. You are good - probably the best - at what you do. It's just that what you do, doesn't do it for me anymore.

I wish you all the best for the future.



Anonymous said...

Another excellent post, Lesley. The whole one-sided thing where "famous people" want to talk *at* folk rather than interact with their audience will be history soon, I believe. Too many missed opportunities from those who simply haven't haven't bothered to keep up with the power of social media and the shift in the balance of social power.

Anonymous said...

Lesley - aw! I'm sad for you. I still enjoy the Festival and am now worried I shouldn't :) On a more positive note, can you recommend any authors to follow/interact with on social media? I find both Ian Rankin and Sandy McCall-Smith good on Twitter in their own different ways. All the best - Roger

Lel said...

Don't be sad Roger...we'd grown apart and it was time to move on :)I was actually quite relieved not to have to do the annual scrum for tickets...

As for authors on Twitter...well, I don't think you can do much better than Mr Rankin. He was a very good sport when I berated him about libraries at one point :) Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) is usually pretty good at engaging, but it's probably increasingly difficult for him as he's up to almost 2 million followers. Cory Doctorow (@Doctorow) is always interesting (and often controversial) but his is quite a niche area. Margaret Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) is worth a follow.