For the cost of $300, it can buy you a table in the Small Press Pavilion. But the cost of tabling rises every year given the already limited floor space at the San Diego Convention Center, even with the new expansion that was added a few years ago. Four years ago, the cheapest price of a table was only $150.
The obvious advantages of having a small press table are plenty. The foremost is the exposure for your comic and gaining potential new readers.
Two exhibitor passes are included (two four-day passes can cost up to $130, depending on how early you register). In the long run, it means a place to stash stuff. No electrical outlet is included but there’s plenty of space under the table and behind the chairs for potential purchases. No need to lug around a big box purchase all day long.
Also access to the hall is extended to exhibitors. Doors are opened early for set up every day and exhibitors can stay long after attendees are dismissed at the end of the day.
Yet there are disadvantages. There is that need to sell enough items to pay for the cost of the table. Table prices rises every year and with that is the pressure to sell even more merchandise for many exhibitors. Sometimes selling one dollar buttons and booklets aren’t enough.
The flipside of extended hall hours for exhibitors is also a curse. Exhibitors are expected to man their tables during the entire course of the convention. This means having the table ready before the doors open and until after attendees leave. Besides potential theft of products on your table, convention promoters often make rounds to see that tables are manned and set up. Rumor has it that if promoters see a table not manned, they may not allow that exhibitor to “table” next time.
Leaving the table to attend a panel or walk around the floor is impossible unless the co-exhibitor doesn’t mind manning the table alone.
Hours are long and, for many, activity comes in cycles. There are the early morning bursts followed by long lulls. People can be waiting to speak to the creator or buy a book, leaving the exhibitor too busy to take a bite of lunch. There are also stretches of time left alone that is good for people watching and doodling.
One intangible that cannot be underestimated is the long-term friendships you make with both your fans and fellow exhibiting creators. In many ways, that’s worth more than what’s in your cashbox at the end of Sunday. In the long run, exhibiting outweighs not having a table.