From Thursday to Monday we were at our stand at the Turin Book Fair... it was painful for our feet and spectacular for our hearts 😍 A special thank you to those of you who could make it and an extra special thank you to Estel, Enrica, Anna, Alizé, Francesca, Umberto and Matteo Ufocinque who were with us in the front line.
On the last day Matteo told Pierpaolo (who reads us): «We received so many inputs in such a short time that we’re struggling to process them». We’re going to try anyway, and as the protagonist of The Great Beauty, Jep Gambardella would say, these are in no particular order.
🦊🦊🦊 First the nice things
- Meeting you in person was moving. Some of you saw us and stopped to say «I have those! I use Intùiti!» or «Ah, this is genius!» (we gloated so much 😂). Some of you left us completely speechless: a girl told us that Fabula changed her life and helped her finish a novel on which she had been stuck for months, and a guy told us that he thinks what we do is so important not only on a creative but also on a human level. We are known to be chatty, but we really didn’t know what to say (to the point that we forgot their names): we were moved. Thank you ❤️
- We sold a lot of copies of Mario! There was an ongoing joke between Matteo and Enrica (she made fun of him saying that no one would buy it and, everytime someone did Matteo would whisper to her «Take that!» 😂). The very first one to get it was Cristian, who reads us here and has already sent his positive comments: thank you, you were a good luck charm!
🦊🦊🦊 Our goal
We went to the Turin Fair, which is the most important in Italy, because we wanted “to exist”. Independent Publisher is often synonymous with a small publisher with little resources (in an industry that constantly cries poor); on top of that if you also only sell online, oh dear, the perception is terrible. That’s why we got a 24 square meters stand that, to be blunt, means: «We exist, we’re practical, and what we do generates profit».
Bottomline, it was a brand awareness investment and we think it worked: we talked to some industry professionals who we already knew and they completely changed their attitude towards us. It’s not about vanity; it is pure practicality: we need new partnerships, collaborations and we can save time if we don’t have to explain to our interlocutors that we know what we’re doing, that there's a market for it and that it works.
🍝🍝🍝 Final outcome
We’ll publish a couple of numbers for transparency because we think it could be useful for whoever works (or wishes to work) in this field.
Expenses: about 6500€.
- 2200€ for the stand;
- 1700€ for fixtures and fittings (walls with graphics, electricity, carpet);
- 800€ furniture (we bought everything at Ikea, and we can reuse all of it);
- 800€ vendors (essential!),
- About 1000€ miscellaneous (credit card reader, van, tote bags, business cards etc.)
Proceeds: 7600€ direct sales.
Considerations: it went really well. We made enough to cover the costs and we had the chance to present our products to more than five thousand people and we were seen by part of the one hundred and fifty thousand visitors that came to the fair during the five days. Brand awareness for free 🍒
🐈🐈🐈 Thoughts on the Fair
It is an event built to sell to the final customer. Medium to small publishers put out an overabundance of titles on their tables (it’s worth it: if they sell directly to the customer they don’t have to give out 60% to the distributor); same thing goes for the big (Mondadori, Feltrinelli) who build actual bookstores in which thousands of people crowd to buy the same titles they could find in any of their locations. By observing this phenomenon we can understand the logic behind the current distribution that asks publishers for a continuous flow of new titles.
In short, the retail style is the same of a regular library and of the Long Tail: you showcase a lot of products and you try to sell using the “pull” logic (you wait for the customer to read the back cover and choose the book to buy).
For this reason, out of the four pavilions, the Oval, even if it’s the most pleasant architecturally, it is also the least loved by publishers because it’s further away from the main entrance hence less crowded. That’s where we were 😂, right at the back, and to be frank it worked perfectly: unlike the others, we had to explain our product (to each and every person who approached the stand we would say «Hi! Are you familiar with our tools?») so we found beneficial a lesser turnout.
👉 We missed a networking space. There was a private lounge on the upper floor at the Oval pavilion (where Matteo got in thanks to his nerve) and it sort of had the same feeling of the Griboedov in The Master and Margarita: you could only get in by invite and you observe the pavilion from up top drinking coffee and wine offered by sponsors. A pity: we would have loved to have a space thought for professionals that could get to know each other. We compensated by putting together bags full of our products to gift to the stands we liked, like new neighbours that just moved in 😂
🌈 Takeaway: try to mingle as much as possible
Shake hands, see the eyes widen or smile, hear jokes fly, it’s not like talking on the phone or reading an email. We realized that we want more human contact, with those who know and use our products and with our colleagues (editors, writers, illustrators, entrepreneurs etc.) so we can discuss and work together to better understand today’s mechanisms and ride them or change them. Many have asked us «Do you have an office in Turin where I can come see you?» and we had to bite our tongues because we all work from home. We saw a 450 square meters place, right across the river Dora, where we could create a meeting place for creatives and we thought of «Casa Sefirot» but maybe it’s too soon... we’ll see 😉
Matteo and Andrea
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