Books
5:09 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

David Sedaris: A Marathon Book Signing In Kansas

It’s hard to imagine sitting for 9 hours at a stretch. Maybe on a long-haul flight, or a long-distance car trip. But, a 9-hour book signing?

Humorist David Sedaris - who's known for his stories on public radio, including This American Life - is currently on tour with his new collection of essays, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. Between July 1 and November 22, Sedaris has 44 appearances scheduled - from Brighton, England to Rutland, Vermont.

In May, one of his book tour stops included Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kan. – and it was reportedly one of his longest sessions of book signings to date.

A “hella long” line for an autograph

Many fans, by now, know they can expect to wait to get a book signed by David Sedaris. He takes his time, asks questions, draws pictures, and asks for jokes. On average, Sedaris signs books for 5 to 7 hours. On the Ticketmaster site, a number of reviewers shared suggestions, like this one from 512damon: "If you want a book signed, get there early and do it before the show. After the show the line is hella long."

A few days after Sedaris's book signing in late May at Rainy Day Books, they sent out their weekly newsletter, which proclaimed: "David Sedaris set 'A New New Record' of finishing his Booksigning at 2:45 AM on Saturday Morning!"

"His book signings and appearances that he does in bookstores are really epic, because it is an experience," says Rainy Day Books founder and president Vivien Jennings. "And everyone wants to have it."

An energy for book signing

On the day of his Rainy Day Books event, David Sedaris drove from Omaha, Neb. (he’d signed books there the night before at the Bookworm). According to Jennings, soon after arriving at the bookstore, Sedaris signed books for about 2 hours outside the store until 7:30 p.m., when he moved inside to read and talk about his work. He picked up signing books again around 8:30 p.m. and signed until 2:49 a.m. That's just over 9 hours - of signing books.

Jennings estimates about 450 people attended the event. She says Sedaris is “definitely unique” when it comes to his energy at book signings."Usually, they (authors) want to meet the people, but they want it to be a couple of hours, 2 ½ hours. Once you get past that, they start to think ‘Ack,’" she says. "He (Sedaris) is really interested in the people. He talks to them. He has no sense of time."

Signing for as long as it takes

"This was long even for him," says Marlena Bittner, Sedaris’s publicist who was with him at the book signing at Rainy Day Books. "David never cuts the line and he doesn’t stop until everyone who has come out to see him has a signed book."

Bittner adds, "He doesn’t take breaks and even eats his dinner at the signing table. He has always done his signings this way." As for why he signed books until nearly 3 a.m. at Rainy Day Books, she says it's "simply because that’s how long it took for him to sign for everyone."

Standing next to Sedaris during book signings, passing the books to him or asking the names of fans, Bittner says it’s fun to simply listen in. "You always walk away with some new story that someone’s shared or a filthy joke: something that you didn’t have when you got there," she says.

And, she says, some of those stories or jokes might make their way into Sedaris's future readings or published works.