So, now that I’ve talked about some of the activities that are free to do at the convention, it’s time to talk about MONEY. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the Dealer’s Room, that haven of all things geeky, that emptier of wallets, that tempting siren call that lures you away from your tuition/car/food money nine times out of ten.
If you’re like me, then, no matter what your financial status, no matter how many books you have sitting on your shelf at home waiting to be read, no matter how many pretty things already adorn your closet… you’re going to be out two hundred dollars by the end of the con. Some people manage to resist this, and, Lord knows, this year I really, really have to be one of them, but they are not the norm, Ooooh no.
Why is this, you say? Why do normally sensible people empty their wallets at the mere mention of the Dealers’ Room? The answer is simple: the Dealers’ Room has an array of unique and tempting items related to various fandoms that, under most circumstances, you would a) have to order off the internet, sight unseen, and pay oodles of shipping just to try, or b) never have heard about because the dealer either only does cons or is too small a company to appear readily on your search engine. Cons are such convenient shopping places for rare or indie fan wares that I routinely budget as much shopping money as I have (and exceed it by sixty dollars, usually).
But, all crazy spending habits aside, there’s something else that’s more important to me about the Dealers’ Room than the awesome stuff I can get there: the fact that it’s mostly provided by independent business people, from Canada, who are getting to make a living doing what they love. Now, I know some cons are more commercial, but at Polaris, Ad Astra, and even, to a certain extent, Anime North, I see a democracy of vendors that I just don’t get anywhere else. I get exposure to new people whose work I want to see, who wouldn’t have shown up on my radar if I’d just been looking on the internet or relying on major news sources.
And, of course, this is especially important for authors. The fact that most fan-run conventions remain open to indie authors and publishers is one of the most wonderful, empowering aspects of conventions, for me, because it means that not only are we going to conventions to celebrate something that we love, we are also preserving the grassroots fan traditions that made this fandom great in the first place, the awesome power of readers that turned J.R.R. Tolkien from an underground campus trend into a worldwide phenomenon. So many times in our current media moment we are told what we should be reading and enjoying from big corporations that may not even represent our interests or what we really want to read about, but conventions allow a small sliver of time in the year when readers are truly offered a chance to vote for what they really want out of books, by supporting the authors, mainstream or indie, that they really enjoy. Here are a few of the authors that I have picked up on in Dealers’ Rooms, that I have really enjoyed.
And that, dear friends, is the end of my ode to the Dealers’ Room. As a post-script to some of my other author friends, I should note that there are several books still sitting on my shelf from last con, that I have shamefully neglected due to my rampant book-buying habits, that I really need to dive into and appreciate. I think I will probably read those soon, and do a post series on con readings. What do you think? Tell me in the comments!
Tomorrow: Friends! (Romans! Countrymen!)