Jeebus, its getting so you can’t even throw a SMALL press show without melting servers and frustrated tweets.
Table registration for this year’s Small Press Expo went live yesterday at noon, EDT. And it seems that the servers promptly crashed due to the overwhelming demand. While we missed the actual event due to a brunch obligation, it’s pretty easy to follow the trail of the tweets:
I stopped drawing my comic so I could look at a new comic online called “database error”. Ahhh. #SPXanxiety.
— dtamblyn (@dtamblyn) March 17, 2013
Has ANYONE successfully paid for a @spxcomics table yet? I haven’t even gotten the main page to load since noon.
— Alisa Harris (@CookingUpComics) March 17, 2013
This is getting intense, you guys. #spxcrash
— AtomicBooks (@atomicbooks) March 17, 2013
— Amy Chu (@AmyChu) March 17, 2013
Ok guys, we’re going to call it.Even with all the problems you guys sold out the show in minutes. I cannot apologize enough for the issues
— The Small Press Expo (@SPXcomics) March 17, 2013
It’ll be a weird spx w/out fantagraphics, i heard Gary Groth got pissed & gave up after 45 min of beachballs at checkout.
— SACK ZOTO (@zacksoto) March 17, 2013
All the tables sold out despite the glitches within an hour. The SPX executive team sent out a letter of apology later in the day which read in part:
After literally weeks of testing and refinement and getting the software to run perfectly, (we SWEAR it works, REALLY!), it came to being let own because our ISP refused to help us.
Last week, after describing the flood of people that would hit this morning, they told us to upgrade the account and they would move our web site to a bigger server that would allow more connections, CPU and memory.
Which we did.
Then, when faced with still sub-par response time, they told us to upgrade to their better caching service.
Which we did.
But when the tsunami wave of people wanting tables hit at about 11:50AM today, the site immediately collapsed anyway.
Our host then steadfastly refused to help us by upping our service, even briefly, to help us process your requests.
We were appalled.
While certain legacy tables — the big publishers at the show — are grandfathered in to tables, as you can see from the above, a lot of people were wishing and hoping for a table and got denied. The show added more space last year, but demand keeps growing. Even indie comics are big business now. Is it time to scale back these “golden tickets to kiss One Direction and pat San Lee on the back will go on sale at 1:01 pm Tuesday” type announcements? Maybe, but there doesn’t seem to be any other way to put these much-desired elements on sale either.
The Small Press Expo will be held September 14-15 in North Bethesda, MD. It isn’t a juried show—hence the excitement to buy a table—but now it’s kind of a lottery.
UPDATE: here’s Roger Langridge’s recreation of the registration experience:
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.