Michael Hyatt, president and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and the creator of the book fair, offers his analysis of the horribly low attendance. One basic fact should be remembered: The Christian book fair was planned two years ago before the current economic slide.
Otherwise, Hyatt says the venue was too big (“The enormous scale of the Dallas Convention Center only highlighted the smallness of the crowd”). But then, he was the one who’d planned on 15,000 to 20,000 people when only 1,500 showed up. The timing was wrong (it coincided with spring break), they shouldn’t have charged for the event and they should have spent more on marketing.
But he also blames Dallas’ downtown — for widespread attitudes that must make the Arts District folks concerned: “As I discovered in talking to locals, no one wants to come downtown for an event. The challenge and expense of parking is just more hassle than it’s worth. Plus people were concerned for their safety, especially at night.”
It’s hard to counter the last idea. I remember soon after I moved to Dallas, there was a rash of carjackings. People often asked me about how I could live in a dangerous neighborhood (lower Greenville). Yet a great many of the carjackings occurred in the suburbs, even near malls. It didn’t matter; it was widely perceved as an “urban problem” (translation: racial).