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Neil Gaiman not doing book tours isn’t the end of the world

January 3, 2013

Neil Gaiman has decided to stop doing book signing tours, which I’m really all right with. When he does them  thousands of people show up and I think it must be exhausting for pretty much everyone involved. It’s tiring for him, for the people waiting in line, and for the people who have to work the event in whatever bookstore may happen to host him.

I’ve worked many book signings in my time, and the large ones are major productions. The vast majority of author events are not nearly that large though. They’re local authors, or first time authors, or generally people not named Neil Gaiman. So while I’ve heard it suggested that this is another sign that book signings are ripe to become a thing of the past, I’m here to say that this isn’t case at all.

You see, the kind of author tour that Neil Gaiman is ending for himself is the kind where people line up and wait to have him sign the book in front of them say a 10 second Hello and Thanks and then move on the the next person in line. What he likely will still do in the future are the sorts of events that he did on his American Gods 10th Anniversary tour. I was able to attend one of these events in Seattle, and it was great. Everyone who wanted a signed book got one, and we got to sit and listen to him speak for an hour. No 7 hour lines, no standing in the cold, just a pleasant evening with a favorite author.

Of course, we didn’t get to meet him personally, but so what? You don’t really get to meet him personally  at a tour book signing either. You just get to see him up close for a few seconds and walk away with a signed book. But the best part of author signings isn’t really the signed book anyway. You can find those anywhere. The best part is getting to learn about an author you enjoy in a more personal way. With smaller crowds for less popular or newer authors, the book store book signing is a great way to do this. For authors like Neil Gaiman, however, it’s a terrible way.

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