One of the premier events in the Washington, D.C., literary year is the annual National Press Club Book Fair and Authors' Night. In addition to being an enjoyable social event, the Book Fair raises money for the Club’s Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library and the SEED Foundation, which educates at-risk youth. Eighty or ninety authors sit behind a table stacked with their books and make themselves available to chat with Club members and the public strolling by. The books on display are selected by a committee of the Club, and all have all been published within the calendar year. There are books from a broad range of genres, including business, history, politics, food, children’s, lifestyle, literature, memoir, and sports.
I’ve been a member of the Club for years, and I attend the Book Fair whenever I can, but this was my first time “behind the table.” It was a delightful time. I got to rub elbows with fellow authors Ron Suskind, Ann Coulter, Jim Lehrer, John Farrell, Joe Lieberman, and dozens of others. My publisher, Potomac Books, sent a stand-up foam board of the cover of my newest book, World in the Balance, and Barnes & Noble supplied stacks of books for me to sell and sign. I was in good company, surrounded by Laurence Bergreen (Columbus: The FourVoyages), Stanley Weintraub (Pearl Harbor Christmas), and Marvin Kalb (Haunting Legacy).
Not having had the publicity or the renown of some of the other authors, I expected the space in front of my table to be relatively calm, but I was mistaken. Shoppers, many looking for holiday presents, stopped by in a fairly continuous stream, sharing stories, asking questions, and happy to buy. Some bought multiple copies; four was my record. I signed books eagerly and wished good reading to all.
C-Span sent a crew to tramp the floor between tables, and they interviewed a number of authors, TV camera lights flashing when an author was ready. I was interviewed for a few minutes, although I have yet to see any results.