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Midrand: A place to visit before you die?

Notorious for never-ending traffic jams, very little in the line of scenery and a heavy industrial presence, Midrand has never been on my "places to visit before I die" list.

Having been persuaded that Metz Press should have a stand at the Gallagher Estate Hobby-X, I wondered if this might change ...

Setting up was the normal chaos and dirt with nothing coming from the back of a courier truck going particularly well with a crisp white top. Well organised and well attended, the show itself was great. We saw all the old faithfuls and made wonderful new contacts. Great ideas came our way and we basked in the complements on our books and our stand.

I do find these shows emotionally exhausting, though. I was never really bad at maths, but I never liked it either. There is a reason why I became a publisher – so that I could work with words, not numbers. The biggest stress at every show is handling the cash register and the credit card machine. No matter how many times I am shown exactly how to work them, something ALWAYS happens to me that was not covered by the instructions and is not in the manual either. So when (not if) something goes wrong, I break out in a cold sweat, my mind goes blank and the person being held up by my poor relationship with machines gets that “hmmm, cheating again ... probably trying to clone my credit card ... not particularly bright, is she” look on her face.

Sometimes the problem is sorted out fairly painlessly (on the surface, the inner trauma remains forever), and we can move on to the next purchase. But every now and again the till turns into something from a Hitchcock film and performs transactions that have nothing to do with what I timidly ask it to. It opens the drawer at will, quite scary if you are standing right in front of it, it scans products without scanning them, it clears itself so I start worrying I may have to return to the office with no record of sales, it stops printing receipts ... and when I am ready to run, everything returns to normal. Without me doing anything differently.

Needles to say, the funny business does not happen when the stand is fairly empty. It waits for long queues and impatient shoppers before it pounces.

After four days of this I will happily edit ten manuscripts in record time, do their indexes, proofread ten more and do photo selection with the grumpiest author and the most pedantic book designer.

Still we go, and we keep on going. Meeting the crafters, seeing what is happening in this vibrant industry and getting excited about things that may begin to feel like routine, make it all worthwhile.

Did I change my mind about Midrand? Any educated guesses?

Written by: Metz Press - 18 September 2012
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