By Jennifer S. Wilkov
At the end of May, it’s time for every type of publishing professional to descend on New York City for Book Expo America (BEA), North America’s largest book industry event, which annually attracts approximately 1000 authors to its convention. New York Book Week (May 23 – 29, 2010) was a new concept debuted this year by BEA organizers to embrace all literary and book activity in New York City and which was designed to draw attention to authors, books and publishing.
Steve Rosato, Show Manager for BEA, said, “One of the things that we most wanted to do when we made the decision to keep BEA in New York City for the next few years was to work closely with the community. New York is the publishing capital of the world and there is already an enormous amount of literary activity taking place in the city. It seemed only natural that all of us should band together and call attention to our individual and collective efforts. That’s what New York Book Week is all about.”
The last week of May saw the Jacob Javits Center in New York City buzzing with authors of all kinds and books in all forms. There are now bestselling electronic reader authors and audio book authors who stand alongside the traditional paperback and hardcover book authors. For the first time, the Audio Publishers Association launched their own sound stage at the event so attendees could walk in and listen. Even the Guinness Book of World Records now has a digital strategy being introduced through their new application called “Guinness World Records: At Your Fingertips” which was developed for Apple’s iPad. The face of publishing is changing rapidly and there was much debate during the event.
A CEO panel presented the opening plenary discussion which was entitled the “Value of a Book”, and stemmed, in part, from an Op-Ed piece that appeared in The New York Times (January 2, 2010) by Jonathan Galassi, President of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, titled “There’s More to Publishing Than Meets the Screen“. BEA and American Booksellers Association officials acknowledged that this is a watershed year for change in the industry, and it is critically important to get leaders and opinion makers with different interests and from different segments of the industry together in one room to discuss the many aspects of “value” in books. Panelists included senior executives from International Creative Management (ICM), Workman Publishing, Ingram, Penguin Group (USA), American Booksellers Association (ABA) and the Incoming President of the Authors’ Guild.
Even the event itself went digital and adjusted its structure to accommodate and acknowledge the changes happening in the industry. BEA developed its own official iPhone application by Sideways to support conference attendees during the event. The application was a free, all-in-one that provided an exhibitor directory including specific booth numbers and contact information as well as daily schedules of special events, conferences and autographing sessions. There was also an official BEA Twitter feed, YouTube video channel, blog and Facebook page.
Book Expo also introduced a new conference this year in association with the Gotham Writer’s Workshop and The Writer magazine for “Do It Yourself” authors who want to self-publish, with an entire day dedicated to resources, sessions and talks designed to inform, educate and empower the self-published to go forth and get published. In past years, BEA has integrated these publishing vendors into the main event; however, this year organizers acknowledged the need for a day to be set aside to serve these authors specifically.
The event provided great opportunities for attendees to mingle with celebrities and the better known authors including Barbara Streisand, the legendary actress, singer and director, who delivered the opening night keynote presentation about her upcoming book My Passion for Design to be published by Viking (November 16, 2010).
Musicians also turned out during BEA. Neil Sedaka, arguably the greatest songwriter of all time, signed an exclusive CD made just for BEA that includes two brand-new, original, never-before-heard songs written just for the giveaway and his new book entitled Waking Up Is Hard To Do published by Imagine Publishing, which comes from his bestselling children’s CD of the same name. Famed music legends Peter Yarrow and Paul Noel presented the new Peter, Paul and Mary children’s book, The Night Before Christmas, which is also the last performance ever from the trio.
Beloved comic strips such as Ziggy by Tom Wilson even have new books coming out and other books celebrated their longevity and popularity including HarperCollins’ celebration of the 50th anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird.
From booksellers learning how to open their own bookstores to librarians, authors, literary agents, foreign rights agent, publishers, trade publications and press, Book Expo America and New York is still the place to be to get published, get noticed and get your book out further in the marketplace.