A few minutes ago, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs reversed course on its decision to close their book fair to the public. In an e-mail to exhibitors that was forwarded to me, AWP executive director David Fenza writes:
Dear Bookfair Exhibitor,
The bookfair will be open to the public free of charge on Saturday, March 1. This resolution is possible because the City of Seattle Tax Office enabled AWP to pay an aggregate tax on behalf of our exhibitors. This allows the public to attend the bookfair, with no additional fees to our exhibitors. The voices of AWP members, supporters, and exhibitors have been heard and were instrumental in achieving this goal. AWP is grateful to the City of Seattle Tax Office for its responsiveness to our community. We couldn’t be happier with this outcome, and we look forward to seeing all of you in Seattle!
All the Best, David
It's been a tumultuous week for AWP. On Monday, they announced to exhibitors that the book fair wouldn't be open to the public, citing "Seattle tax reasons." Yesterday, AWP director of conferences Christian Teresi informed me that AWP was probably going to reverse their decision within 24 hours, and now they've done it.
This is great news. The fair wouldn't be opening to the public without the vendors, writers, and book-lovers who loudly protested the decision on social media. But Seattle's city government deserves a lot of credit, too. As soon as they opened for business Tuesday morning after the long weekend, I started hearing from city officials who informed me they were looking into the problem and hoping to resolve it. They were fast, responsive, and passionate about making sure that Seattle had full access to these books and publishers.
So, now it's up to you. The AWP book fair, featuring hundreds of small publishers, will be open to the public at the Washington State Convention Center from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm on Saturday, March 1st. It will be the biggest bookstore in Seattle for the one day that it's open. If you care about books, you really should go, browse, and show your support by buying books at the fair. This is a tremendous resource for the city. I want you to go and see all that it has to offer.