SPX Announces Two Ways to Select Exhibitors Next Year

In order to address overwhelming demand for exhibitor tables (that last year, due to website snafus, resulted in them greatly expanding available space), the staff of the Small Press Expo has announced a new policy:

SPX logo

for 2014, SPX is moving to a split registration system. Half of our tables will be awarded by an open lottery and half by invitation.

…we’re committed to keeping SPX open to all, whether you’re just starting out or have been honing your craft for years. Moving to a table lottery allows us to meet these goals while removing the potential for unfairness and unquestionable inconvenience that had crept into our “first come, first serve” process.

Going forward there will be total transparency to how people get their tables and how the wait list works. We’ll have a simple initial registration and a lengthy window of registration so you won’t be dealing with website crashes. This will be a truly random and fair process to reserve your tables….

We need to ensure that we have the appropriate table space to offer our featured creators. This is not a major change from year’s past but by acknowledging these folks as invited, the process is more transparent.

Along with our annual guests, another group that is just as important are the creators and publishers who have continuously supported SPX over the last half decade or more. These folks have been instrumental in creating the community that we cherish. Without these stalwarts, SPX would be utterly unrecognizable and the growth of the last several years would have been impossible. With our 20th Birthday Party approaching, we would not want to have these friends miss the festivities.

As to how this will work, practically speaking, prior to the lottery, SPX will reach out to those legacy supporters of SPX offering them a window of opportunity to commit to their table(s). If the table space is declined, it will then roll over to the lottery pool and be available to all lottery participants.

This seems like a fair and reasonable way to handle a space that can’t expand any further. However, it’s tough on creators who’ve gone to SPX before (but perhaps don’t fall into the “5 years” category) or those who’ve been trying to make plans to be there, not knowing if they’ll get a table. Whether this is considered a success or failure may depend on who wins the lottery. If a large number of established creators with fanbases are locked out while new, aspiring artists get in, that would be unfortunate. I love SPX for finding creators new to me, but I also want to see new work from known quantities and catch up with long-time acquaintances. It’ll also depend on how soon people know they have tables, so they can make their travel plans.

As Ben Towle noted, this is a major change. “SPX was the last big, non-curated indie con in the U.S.” and now they’re adding a level of curation, even though they want to resist calling it that.

As always, best wishes to the show staff, which don’t have an easy job and yet pull together a terrific, well worth visiting comic show.

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