SPX exhibitor registration ignites Table-geddon

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Jeebus, its getting so you can’t even throw a SMALL press show without melting servers and frustrated tweets.

Table registration for this year’s Small Press Expo went live yesterday at noon, EDT. And it seems that the servers promptly crashed due to the overwhelming demand. While we missed the actual event due to a brunch obligation, it’s pretty easy to follow the trail of the tweets:


All the tables sold out despite the glitches within an hour. The SPX executive team sent out a letter of apology later in the day which read in part:

After literally weeks of testing and refinement and getting the software to run perfectly, (we SWEAR it works, REALLY!), it came to being let own because our ISP refused to help us.

Last week, after describing the flood of people that would hit this morning, they told us to upgrade the account and they would move our web site to a bigger server that would allow more connections, CPU and memory. 

Which we did.

Then, when faced with still sub-par response time, they told us to upgrade to their better caching service.

Which we did.

But when the tsunami wave of people wanting tables hit at about 11:50AM today, the site immediately collapsed anyway.

Our host then steadfastly refused to help us by upping our service, even briefly, to help us process your requests.

We were appalled.

While certain legacy tables — the big publishers at the show — are grandfathered in to tables, as you can see from the above, a lot of people were wishing and hoping for a table and got denied. The show added more space last year, but demand keeps growing. Even indie comics are big business now. Is it time to scale back these “golden tickets to kiss One Direction and pat San Lee on the back will go on sale at 1:01 pm Tuesday” type announcements? Maybe, but there doesn’t seem to be any other way to put these much-desired elements on sale either.

The Small Press Expo will be held September 14-15 in North Bethesda, MD. It isn’t a juried show—hence the excitement to buy a table—but now it’s kind of a lottery.

UPDATE: here’s Roger Langridge’s recreation of the registration experience:
201303181309 SPX exhibitor registration ignites Table geddon

Comments

  1. SPX registration has always been kind of a lottery. The big difference was that we were all quietly panicking over whether the USPS would loose our forms in the mail, not panicking over whether the website would ever come up. In years past, I had no idea if I had a table until months after I sent in my form and somehow I was able to cope. Sometimes the old ways are best.

  2. Steve Horton says:

    It needs to be a juried show. They all do. This should never happen.

  3. Oh for–

    It does NOT need to become a “juried” show or a “curated” show. Just because something goes wrong doesn’t mean we need to upend the entire culture of the festival and turn it into yet another place where younger or more obscure cartoonists find themselves frozen out. Why must the reaction to every adversity be polar and extreme? Things went wrong so pull the bottom out from the independent-friendly spirit of this particular festival. That’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  4. If they want to avoid this problem they should just hold the show somewhere everybody hates like Columbus.

  5. This is just more reason to grow the show beyond the ballroom. Every year there is way more artists trying to get a space than there are tables available. And every year the aisles are barely walkable, as everyone is crammed in like sardines. The show needs some breathing room, and a new venue would solve this.

  6. Actually last year the ballroom was expanded and the aisles were much wider, which pretty much eliminated bottlenecks. It was a wonderful show, which likely added to this year’s ever-more increased table demand. I’m still not sure I got my table yesterday or not, but I have faith the organizers will work all the deets out and iron out the kinks in the end. We’ll all move on.

  7. Actually last year the ballroom was expanded and the aisles were much wider, which pretty much eliminated bottlenecks. It was a wonderful show, which likely added to this year’s ever-more increased table demand. I’m still not sure I got my table yesterday or not, but I have faith the organizers will work all the deets out and iron out the kinks in the end. We’ll all move on.

  8. I certainly hope they plan to change webhosts!

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    Better book the hotel rooms now… Not a lot of other hotels in that area… $109 is pretty affordable…

    Does SPX use the entire Grand Ballroom? It’s 23,408 sq.ft. (The MoCCA Armory show is 31K.)
    Although, that’s not the problem… it’s the meeting rooms downstairs. The rooms are too small… The amphitheater is usually overpacked, as is whatever room the Ignatz Awards are held in. (It’s been a while since I’ve gone, but the Brookside seems to be the largest room, and that was a wall-to-wall fire code violation.)

    After 20 years, should it move to a larger hotel? The Washington Hilton has 35,525 and 30,000 sq ft rooms.

  10. Tom Williams says:

    +1 against all curated. The mere idea of turning it into a juried show is crazy and would go against everything I’ve believed the show to be about. True, such shows exist and well good for them. The reason I thought these shows sprung up is that the indie stuff gets largely ignored at mainstream shows.

    Honestly, I kind of expected this to crash. It isn’t any different than trying to score tickets to some hot arena show. Given the demand for booth space. I hope next year’s registration goes a bit smoother.

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