Successful Events - Exhibitors Booth

Booths and Tables Can Be More than Books on Tables

Successful Events – Exhibitors Booths

Exhibitors at Book Fairs and Expos who do not meet their expectations on sales and people browsing will often blame position or people flow throughout the floorplan. No doubt these are important and will affect sales but of even more importance is something to make people stop at your booth.

If your table and booth looks like every other, why should they stop?

The basics are, presentation, colour and movement.  You need a “STOPLIGHT” eye catcher.


We do and we will also judge the book by table presentation at a book fair/expo.

This point could not have been hammered home any more strongly than last year while walking around Book Expo Australia and I heard the following conversation.

Woman 1 – Ok I think we have been to everyone.

Woman 2 – No I think we missed those over there.

Woman 1 – Did we (looking over) Hmm I’m tired and I’ve spent all my money

Woman 2 – Mmmm me too. The tables don’t look much… Mmm Ok I’m ready to go.

Am I making this up? I assure you I’m not, this was a real conversation. I stood behind them and looked across to the four tables that they indicated they had not seen. All the tables had cloths to the floor and looked neat, the authors were seated behind their tables. Two had pull up banners showing book covers and titles and the others had (small) posters up behind on the walls.

If I was tired and out of money would I have walked the width between where I was and there? Maybe, but there was no call for action to walk there and that is what each author or exhibitor needs, a call to come over, stop and look.

Look at your table presentation. Most exhibitions will give you a basic trestle table.

1/ Cover it – to the floor on all sides. This will make it look neat and you can hide things under it. A double or queen size flat sheet is easy to travel with and cheap.

2/ Add different heights with simple card board boxes etc and cover them with a second contrasting coloured sheet. You can use some of the boxes to open to the back so you have a small office. These differing heights can be used to display books standing up and brochures to greater effect. If you are travelling from interstate look at the boxes you can buy from the post office these usually are constructed in sturdy cardboard and can travel flat.

3/ The cloth across the front of your table can be used to announce your name, hang posters or more. You instantly have created a billboard that can be as colourful as you like.

4/ Posters should start at A3, anything smaller will be lost in the vastness of an Expo/Fair. Aisles are at least 2 metres wide. Who other than teens can read an A4 poster through busy aisles?  Twenty copies arranges in a pretty pattern DOESN’T make the information easier to read it is just as tiny twenty times over.  Poster sizes are poster sizes for a reason, this is the minimum size for easy reading at a distance!

At an event or Expo all the booths are built from the same material by a specialist. All backing boards look the same. Make yours stand out. Use large posters with bright primary colours to make a splash. If your book cover is pastel coloured border it with slashes of primary colour using cardboard or crepe paper.


Don’t think small, you are in a large hall with many, many authors. You need to stand out, go for long strips of colour on your backing board not one sheet of cardboard. Use a roll of crepe paper from top to bottom to make stripes and lines.

Pull up banners are great. If you book cover is all pastels what can you do to make it brighter and more eye catching? How can you add ‘action’ to it?

People automatically think pullup banners + cover = great exposure. Are you marketing your book or you as an author? Can the banner be more about you? Could it have a riddle or a question on it? Could it have a book quote? Could it just ask a question?


Meet your new, favourite author here!!

You will instantly qualifier ever person who stops, they will be interested in your genre.

I will admit I barely glance at pull-up banners now as I know I will see a book cover and title and not much else and, this will be replicated on the table and in the poster on the wall behind.

This is especially true for people with one book.


So your table looks interesting and your use of colour and posters have people pausing at your table and picking up your books.

Now you need to engage them in conversation and talk about your writing without being pushy and also give them the opportunity to leave without feeling guilty if your book is not their thing.

First consider why you are at the Fair/Expo. It should not be to sell books. (Sales should be a secondary goal)

Your goal is to gain exposure, market your brand (you the author) and to gain ways to contact people and promote your books directly.

Basically gain email addresses, subscribers on your website/blog, “likes” on your Facebook page and twitter followers, in that order!

You need to have an interactive component on your table that people enter by leaving their email address and it needs to more than a raffle as no-one, and I mean no-one, enters those anymore. We all know that raffles are just a way to gain your email address to bombard you with spam.

Think interactive fun!

Back to your banner, make it a silhouette of a male or female and ask people to write on personality and characteristics for a new character to win a prize in your next novel.

Have a lock picking competition if you write crime.

Have a murder clue competition.

Have a… “what happens next” competition with words or photo’s?

Have a photo competition with a photo frame and caption.

There are many ideas that can be done in a small space that can be tied into a book in some way.

Offer a percent off retail price for months following the Event that can only be obtained by email.

Email out receipts for purchases.

Email out chapter samples for up-coming books.

Email out a free short story.

Have a look at the images below which I have taken from events around the world. Which tables look attractive, professional? Which ones makes you feel that the author has taken care to introduce, imagination and creativity in presenting their table? What is your feeling about the books they will be presenting? I agree some are obviously single individuals and some are from larger companies, but each person could with small changes made a huge difference n the perception of their table and perhaps the results they achieved on the day.

Sample TableSample TableSample TableSample Table
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One last point,  discuss this with the event organiser because;

  • There may be insurance issues
  • There may be space issues – banners for example may not be able to be placed in front of tables or beside it for both safety and insurance issues. Be sure you have paid for the space to have one.
  • Raffles and chance competitions fall under many states Betting and Gambling Laws. Be sure you comply

As an event organiser I try to accommodate all reasonable requests and this can only make the Expo more vibrant and successful but each exhibitor must stay within their space and not impinge on others, nor must they block fire exits or aisles (same fire issues).

Everyone can have a successful and worthwhile show with on flowing positive results if planning is done ahead and clear goals and possible achievements are set. Just remember how you react to being asked to enter competitions and games of chance and adjust what you will do accordingly.













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