William, over at A Motley Vision, mentioned that the LDSBA (LDS Bookseller's Association) Convention is going on this week. I actually got to attend this a few years back, when “One United Generation” was getting distributed. It was a great time. Lots of fun, and I got to see and meet a lot of cool people.
It’s basically a place where owners of LDS bookstores gather and find authors, publishers, musicians, and creators of LDS-oriented products. They buy their stock for the year, party, hobnob, find out what’s cool and new, and then go home.
The show is closed to the public, meaning that only members of the organization can attend. The only reason I got in was because my distributor got me in. It’s whole purpose is for product creators and distributors to get their wares seen and bought by retailers, who then stock their shelves with it.
This is a pretty common model in industry related trade shows. One of the biggest one that I know of is NAMM (National Association of Music Merchandisers). They have a huge show that draws all kinds of industry people every year. It’s also closed to the public.
AMV was commenting on how the attendance (and value) of the convention is dwindling. Partly, I imagine, due to the fewer and fewer LDS retailers out there. William was speculating that opening it up to the public might be a good idea.
A part of me agrees. I think it would be a lot of fun! I’ve been to some LDS product expos in the past, and I’ve always enjoyed them. I get a kick out of it. I love walking around and seeing what people are coming up with. I like seeing our own popular culture in action. I don’t always like what I see, but I like seeing it happen.
Another part of me has seen the low attendance that these shows tend to draw. Maybe it’s because they’re undercapitalized, and don’t have the budgets to do the heavy advertising. Maybe it’s because they’re usually held here in Utah, and we’re pretty saturated already with LDS products. Maybe it’s because a lot of Mormons see that sort of thing as the over-commercialization of our faith.
I’m not sure what the real reason is. The fact is, that without people coming and shopping, the vendors can’t justify the effort and the expense of setting up a booth. Without vendors, of course, the expos die.
As a creator, a musician, I would love to have the opportunity to present my wares, my CD’s directly to a buying public. Let them choose. I also realize that it makes me a willing participant in the ongoing overcommercialization of my faith. Oh, well… I can’t please everyone. I’m just making tunes that I wanna share, ya know?
Nonetheless, I do like to see situations and events that celebrate our members creating our own popular culture. I do like to see us celebrating our faith and our uniqueness. That doesn’t seem to be too wrong, either…