The First Christian Book Expo May Wind Up Being the Last Christian Book Expo

Had totally intended to attend this weekend's Christian Book Expo at the Dallas Convention Center, if only for the cameo appearance by the godless Christopher Hitchens. Alas, my weekend got away from me, and, sadly, no expo for me. Or for most folks, as it turns out: Publishers Weekly today reports that only 1,500 consumer attendees showed up, which was way below organizers' prayed-for 20,000. And it wasn't for lack of advance (good) word: The show's been in the works for two years. Notes PW:

Stacks of unsold books and glum publishers stood for three days inside the cavernous Dallas Convention Center this past weekend at the Christian Book Expo, a first-of-its-kind event designed to connect publishers and authors directly with readers in the evangelical Christian market. Only problem was there were few readers to connect with, despite the show's location in Dallas, the buckle of the Bible Belt and a top market for Christian publishers. ... Off the record, exhibitor publishers rolled their eyes heavenward, but spoke with circumspection on the record. "Every new experience has a few nicks and bruises, but things can be worked out," said Greg Petree, v-p of marketing at Howard Books. A few were more blunt. "We can't afford these kinds of risks," said Dennis R. Hillman, publisher at Kregel Publications. "In a year like this the last thing we want to do is something that has no payoff."

I, of course, blame the lack of a proper convention center hotel. After the jump, Hitchens's introductory remarks.

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