Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Expo America 2013

Jacob K. Javits Center, New York City

 The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has over 675,000 square feet of exhibit space,
Eleventh Avenue, between 34th and 40th streets, on the West side.

Last weekend, June 7-8, I attended the annual Books Expo of America 2013 conference in New York City. It was held on four consecutive days at the Javits Center (June 5-8). It's a cavernous and noisy venue where publishers met book buyers for bookstores, and writers met agents and librarians. Autographs, introductions, and meetings were the currency of the day.

The Books Expo of America began in Washington D.C. in 1947, and after 1971 moved to Chicago, and has also been held in Los Angeles. It is slated to be held at the Javits Center again next year until 2015. 

I took along my See More Publishing LLC credentials and was admitted into the trade show Friday and for a day-long conference on Saturday. Steep entrance fees made me wistful for the admission prices of antiques and jewelry shows I've attended, and the books weren't even on sale.

 An early morning view:
Aisles criss-crossed, twenty like this and more

I admit the conference itself was thrilling. I listened to or saw numerous famous authors such as Scott Turow, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, and celebrities such as Ann Romney (pictured below), 

 Ann Romney, in pearls

as well as Marcia Clark, Esq. (O.J.Simpson's Prosecutor), Bella Andre, and Barbara Freethy. And I heard about many more who attended, and unexpected stars as varied as Jim Carrey and Dr. Ruth. As well, I listened to many industry leaders volunteer their knowledge in wide-ranging panel discussions.

 Marcia Clark, Esq. moderated panel with Baldacci, Connelly, Turow, and Pelecanos

Grant Faulkner is Executive Director of The Office of Letters and Lights that runs National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), with a current rough count of 343,000 members. It's such a great program, survives on a shoestring, and deserves more funding. He gave a fantastic talk at the CreateSpace area (frugally, instead of paying for its own space, which might have run almost $1M). He said in his talk that being busy is good for writing and had a rapt audience.

 Grant Faulkner, Exec. Dir. of The Office of Letters and Lights, NaNoWriMo

The Exhibit Hall was filled with the banners and booths of major publishers. Many signs were elevated higher than airline signs in airports. 

 Scholastic had a booth

Wiley had a plush carpet
 Princeton University was one of several University Presses represented
along with many international publishers

One corner of the Exhibit Hall was organized in rows for author signings. This seemed the most disconcerting part of the entire show to me as an author. The most popular lines for authors functioned as acid tests. The longest lines weren't necessarily for non-fiction life-changing books, but mostly for popular bestselling authors. Sylvia Day was a star at BEA this year. Her publishers made the largest banners around, and she had the longest lines at the author pen. 

 Author Signing Pen (20+signers at a time)

Since Day's name barely registered with me, I was thrilled to be able to speak to the acclaimed author and influential nutritionist Dr. T. Colin Campbell. He's author of The China Study. Here's the book's long page in Wikipedia. He gave me a signed copy of his new book called "WHOLE: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition."

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Nutritionist, author of The China Study

And walking around the show was frustrating when I couldn't read names on badges. Perhaps the badges should have been legible. Ropes advertising John Grisham held the badges around our necks. And the badges swung around every which way, like bulky necklaces.

A larger issue of the BEA, from a blog called Publishing Perspectives was that having a librarian lounge and not a writer's lounge seemed unfair. There was one for writers at the London Book Fair this year. I remember feeling surprised that librarians were given such a lot of space, and authors had absolutely nowhere to sit, except the Author Pen, to mingle with literary agents and publishers. The exceptions were authors such as Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy, who had signing tables or were highlighted at the tables of their Publishers.

Overall, the BEA was an upbeat industry event that was relatively author-friendly in comparison to the real world. Attendance was at least 30-40,000. A great event to attend if you can.

After giving the matter a lot of thought, I think writing a blog to a writer, like owning a house to an owner, is not at all minor just because other people do it. I've spent thousands of hours on my posts, not just a few. I've expended time researching and editing, effort, perspiration, money, and tears on my posts. And for anyone to say they aren't important, and to ask pejoratively "who reads blogs?" or to say "I don't read blogs" or worse "no one reads blogs" is the height of ignorance and flippancy.

Writers need more support. So do bloggers and bloggettes like me. And why worry about those who won't read to obtain information wherever it comes from? 

Thanks for reading.

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