Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I've been here for much of this week. Book Expo America is, I guess, the biggest event of the U.S. book industry calendar, a three-day event that in its NYC years takes over more or less the entire Javits Center, the city's enormous convention center.

Javits is a soul-sucking place. It's in the middle of nowhere, a PITA to get to; your options are basically the crosstown bus or a taxi, and as a result once you finally get there, you feel kind of trapped. A colleague today noted that after you've been at Javits for a few hours you feel like you've been on an airplane. It's that same kind of hollow, disoriented sensation. Nobody's favorite part of travel (or work conventions).

But BEA itself is an amazing experience. A huge array of publishers, from the large to the small, show up and staff a booth. There are giveaways and signings, panel discussions and Q&As, and many, many chances for Courtney to pick up more ARCs and publisher catalogs than she can reasonably carry.

It's always a great education, to boot, on what the publishers see as their major priorities for the fall. BEA, and especially an author signing or a giveaway at BEA, represents a major investment of publisher resources. By expending their resources, they are telegraphing to the booksellers and librarians (and book bloggers and journalists) in attendance at the fair what they think the Big Books are going to be. In essence, Publisher A is trying to tell Bookseller B what Book Buyer C (that's me!) is going to want to buy her friends and family for Christmas.

Preaching to the choir here: If you're reading this blog, I'm assuming you're a book person, in some sense of the phrase. If you care about books, don't forget that books make great gifts. You can even give Kindle editions now, if that's how your recipient rolls. Right, Mom?


Allison said...

It totally kills me that BEA was in LA a few years ago, and I didn't go! I really had no idea what it was, to be honest, and ALA was in Anaheim the same year, so my decision was obvious. But I should have done both! Ah well.

I liked reading your insider take on it.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Great description of the experience at being at the Javits Center!

Jessica Brockmole said...

I really didn't know much about BEA before this year. Posts like this are very helpful!