Display Advice [Book Events Series]

There are a million and one ideas for how to set up a display space, how to showcase your books – and how much to spend.

My first event was a book launch, and the lovely ladies at the Pt Chev Bookshop took care of the display for me. Next was a school visit, at which a display wasn’t relevant. After that, however, were the markets.

Stick to a theme

My very first stall had a jumble of things – my books, some of my mum’s crafts, postcards, and some bags made by a friend of mine. I sold very little that day and looking around at other stalls I soon realised that my products needed some cohesion.

Since then, I’ve pared down what I put on the table, and I leave some space for the products to be seen clearly. The products that get the most visual attention are the ones I make most prominent, so I use my hardbacks as display pieces, and have my paperbacks laying flat. Now that I’ve got a colouring book as well, I use a small easel to display that.

Blockhouse Bay - Aug 2015
Blockhouse Bay – Aug 2015

Tell people who you are

Another lesson I learned pretty early on was that people didn’t know I was the author of the books I had. I remedied this with a table-front banner that has ‘meet the author’ across the top to tell people who I am. Sometimes I take a blackboard a long that summarises the answers to my frequently asked questions.


At a book festival, it’s a bit different. People are expecting to see the authors with their books, so at the NZ Book Festival my focus is on letting people know I’m a children’s author, generally in the fantasy genre.


Be practical

Of utmost importance for me was the ability to carry everything myself. Sometimes my partner helps me with set-up and pack-up, but often I’m on my own. I invested in a table that folds and has a carry-handle (from Bunnings), a comfy folding chair (from the Warehouse) and a trolley suitcase so I could wheel it to and from the car. I still have to do two trips sometimes, but it’s manageable overall.

Stay on budget

Like most of authors, I’m on a fairly tight budget. I bought a table, chair and banner, as well as fabric to make a fitting tablecloth – these I consider essentials. I also bought little chalkboards to write prices on, which have actually managed to get almost as much attention as the books!


All up, it was well under NZ $150, which I consider an investment as I’ll be re-using these items (you can see on my events page that they have been use a LOT).Β Other than that, I use an easel that I already owned, and have utilised one of my ukulele stands as a book display stand. It also means that for large events, I don’t have to invest a huge amount, because I already have some display materials.

Having said that, if you are only doing occasional events, there is usually an opportunity to hire from the venue.

Do a mock set-up

Easily the most valuable thing I did was to set up a mock stall at home. This gave me a realistic idea of the space I had to work with, what could stand on its own (hardbacks) and what needed help (paperbacks), and how long it would take me to set up.


This is the second installment in my Book Events Series. The first post was on merchandising ideas, and the next will be on how to promote a book event on social media.

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