James Bacon: Free Books at WonderCon
— Not an April Fools Joke

James Bacon: Readers of File 770 will know that I am earnest in my pursuit to let more folks know about the wonderful things going on in the world of science fiction fandom.

I truly feel — and am sure you know my level of commitment to things Fannish — that we need to work to let people who are “our type” of science fiction and fantasy readers know we are here. We need to talk to them about our enthusiasm, I hope shared, for SF/F and introduce them to the brilliant things that are Worldcons and local science fiction activities.

I am leading an initiative — a science fiction outreach initiative — to do this at next year’s WonderCon, a three-day comics celebration in San Francisco that is the Little Brother of San Diego Comic-Con.

We intend to go to a massive comics convention and find the book readers!

Experience from similar events in London has shown that our fans do exist. At London Film and Comic Con and Collectormania we have given away books and seen the results in convention memberships.

We want the book readers. We want to find the potential fans who like books and want to discuss them.

34,000 people are expected at WonderCon in San Francisco next April, and we have found a way to attract and talk to the “book readers.” We will be giving away free science fiction and fantasy books.

Some 7,000 books. Six pallet loads.

If you think about it, if you were at any event yourself, and saw free SF/F books, would you be attracted to it, and chat with the folks giving them away? Sure you would!

As people look for a book our team will be there to chat, recommend a book, and pass along information about Worldcons and SFnal activities. We hope that one-on-one conversation will ignite a latent interest in our sort of hobbies and activities.

We will have a bookmark in each book promoting the next two seated Worldcons and upcoming Worldcon bids and a few local cons and organisations (and a few websites, Mike). We will have maps, flyers, and calendars to illustrate what is going on in our fannish community.

Since we plan to hire and fill two exhibit booths with books, this is a massive undertaking. There will be a lot of work and effort involved in moving books about and getting shelving — hundreds of feet of shelving — and moving pallets around in trucks.

Living in London makes this not-so-easy to coordinate on my own, so Chris Garcia and others in the San Francisco area, and Helen Montgomery in Chicago are on the team. We’d like to see that grow.

This is not hot air, Good Reader, this is something that is happening!

I am hoping that when you read this, you might think of how YOU can help us with this ambitious project. We have had terrific support already from Renovation and Chicon 7. Many other fannish organisations are at this moment discussing this initiative, because we have asked for their financial assistance and general support. Meanwhile, individual fans have expressed their enthusiasm! I was stunned into silence when, out of the blue, we received a large private donation. I am rarely silent. This show of generosity strengthened my resolve that we are trying something worth doing.

But back to you Dear Reader. How can you help? Well, first we need to organise a couple of book drives. Loscon will host our first such drive. Others will soon follow. Watch our soon-to-be-launched website for a listing.

We need second hand and new books. You might know a dealer who has old stock, or a shop that has boxes they don’t expect to sell. Many fans have contemplated a clear out, and now is an occasion to take that action. Your books won’t just be recycled, they will be the outreach to new fans. If you are able to bring books to Loscon, please contact us at the Renovation/Chicon 7 table. For future book drives, keep an eye on our webpage here: http://tinyurl.com/239sszb.

You may have somewhere to gather and store books in the Bay Area or elsewhere in the state. We have storage space for three pallets so far, but we need more. Please let us know.

Maybe you can help us move the donated books — having access to a van or a brother-in-law with a truck. Perhaps you can lend a hand loading a car or even better load YOUR car and bring the books to us.

Can you host a book drive at your local convention? If that interests you, or if you have books to donate, contact Chris Garcia. You can reach him via our email address, [email protected].

We will need volunteers to staff our booth for half-day shifts, on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of April 2011. We need people who are enthusiastic and want to talk about books and our activities, who will engage and be friendly. We are not sales people, but we are well-read and enthusiastic about the genre and our community.

I was asked if we want young people. My answer is:  I would like ALL people who feel young at heart and comfortable, or enjoy talking briefly to hundreds of people about fan activities. The best person at this in London is John Dowd, who last year retired from teaching. Knowledgeable, and young at heart.

So that’s the plan, Good Reader.

Consider this our call for volunteers! It’s not an easy task, and people need to be committed, but if you love SF Fandom and books, and are happy to talk to comics readers, then consider joining us. If you are able to donate, move or store books, please help. And ask your local fan organisation to support this outreach initiative with funding.

Will you help me? Please.

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— Not an April Fools Joke

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