Following last week’s gridlock over signing up for tables at this year’s Small Press Expo, organizers have announced that they’ll be expanding the show floor to include the ENTIRE ballroom at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center. Althugh it seems like a logical development, the announcement makes it clear that attendance must stay commensurate with floor size and this is an experiment:

At last weekend’s meeting of the SPX Executive Committee, after much discussion – and taking into account the feedback we’ve received from exhibitors, both large and small – we unanimously agreed to expand the number of tables for SPX 2013.

We have contacted the hotel and reserved THE FULL BALLROOM. This expansion means opening the exhibitor floor to accommodate as many of our table orders as possible. The new space will allow us to increase the table count from last year’s 210 tables to approximately 280.

With any expansion to the SPX festival, like last year’s addition of new tables, our top priority has been growing the number of exhibitors in balance with our ability to draw attendees. Exhibitors at SPX generally do great business and we don’t want that to change.

So, to be clear, this will be an experiment – and an acknowledgement that we let our community down last weekend. This expansion may not be a permanent move for SPX, but we’ll do our utmost to make sure that this year’s show is the best – and best attended – yet.

As to whether the expansion is permanent will be dependent upon how well you exhibitors do in terms of sales and the resultant feedback we get about this expansion after the show. 

Even with the expanded show floor, not everyone who tried to get a table will be able to get one, the note continues. Confirmations are being sent out, and there will be a waitlist.


  1. “2012 was another terrific year for the show. Attendance was over 3,000 attendees and exhibitors, along with dozens of printers, distributors, retailers, and other industry professionals.
    There were over 500 people registered as exhibitors and we sold over 200 exhibitor tables. ”

    3.000 attendees, after 20 years of existence.

    I think SPX might need to rethink their marketing and programming strategies.

    Are there off-site events the week before in the DC area (Kramer Books? Politics and Prose? Libraries?)
    Is there outreach to universities and high schools, encouraging students to attend (and possibly exhibit)?
    How much local press coverage is there? Do any television stations cover the event?

    How many librarians attended?
    Oh, wait… it’s a flat registration at the door, so SPX doesn’t collect any data attendee which can be mined later. They don’t know who attends the show. They don’t know where attendees travel from. They don’t know how many teens or kids attend.

    From a public safety viewpoint, they don’t have any idea how many people might show up. What happens if Neil Gaiman is attending, and there are 5000 people queued up since Midnight? How do you process them all in a timely manner? What if people travelling from afar, staying at the Marriott, can’t get a ticket?

    SPX needs to organize itself better.
    Since table registration funds the show, and is the focal point, it needs to be opened a year in advance. Then, if the demand is there, a larger venue can be selected for the following year. (Hilton, DCCC ballroom)

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