Book Expo America Breakout Sessions

I attended the breakouts throughout Book Expo America while my posse worked our booth.  Independent publishers seemed as excited as ever but fear was clearly on the face of the major players.  Nearly every breakout seemed to have an “us versus them” mentality between the independents and the big publishers.  I didn’t recall things being so tense last year.  What did I learn?  Well first of all I never got to attend the Google Books session because I wasn’t allowed to attend the “publishers only” session and the author’s session conflicted with another event.  I really enjoyed the session “Book Reviews2010: What Will They Look Like” featuring Otis Chandler of Goodreads with some “real” reviewers including Ben Greenman from The New Yorker and David Nudo of The New York Times.  I was surprised to learn that Otis’ grandfather founded the L.A Times.  I feel for the newspaper industry and hope it can develop a viable model for earnings however believing that book sales will not continue to be driven by pop culture and the internet is very niave approach.  David Nudo made the statement that he felt most people prefer a professional reviewer over the advice of a friend.  I’d really like to hear your opinions on if this is true because in my case it is definitely not.
Also interesting was “Print On Demand For Dummies” featuring David Taylor from Lightening Source and two others.  From this short breakout I could immediately see the future of publishing.  Lightening Source also featured their “Espresso” machine on the show floor which offers book stores in house instant printing.  Of course publishers are not yet giving up the rights to make this possible, but it is inevitably the future.  Imagine walking into your favorite book store, browsing sample books storewide or even browsing the internet for the title you want.  When you’re ready to purchase you take the book to the front and its custom printed in the size and paper type you want with your name in the front cover.  This will also save the millions of unsold books that are destroyed each year because they don’t sell.  The book industry would truly turn “green” printing only to meet true customer demand.
Saturday afternoon provided a pretty funny panel discussion called “Stupid Things Booksellers and Publishers Do.”  There was a really funny guy who is a bookstore owner in San Francisco that attempted to moderate.  Attacks flew back and forth but mostly in a fun way.  Basically all sides agreed on one subject only – that non-returnable sales at a discount would be the most advantageous for stores, sellers, publishers and readers … but probably won’t happen.

Book Expo America 2009 – Review Part 1

Entering the events hall at the Javits Center, one could immediately fill a different vibe in the air.  Not necessarily bad, just different than last year’s Los Angeles celebrity stocked buzz fest.  Last year I was delighted to meet Slash, William Shatner, Rick Pitino, Arianna Huffington and many other huge stars.  This year the headlining book signers were Doctor Ruth and Captain “Sully” Sullenberger.  For me the highlight was Dr. Cornel West & Tavis Smiley who were just as great in person as he is on tv.  Actually my very favorite author, Peter David, was there signing but I missed him because the book was just so thick I didn’t see his name.
There were basically no after-parties but that was ok because New York has so much to do we were really tired from all the running around.  We did enjoy Steven Tyler’s opening keynote.  He was very very funny and Clarence Clemmons playing the sax was classic.  Neither took time out for a formal signing which seemed like a missed opportunity. 
In the exhibit hall the aisles were noticeably less full than last year.  However we got plenty of traffic to our booth set up in the University Press section.  Many book buyers and bookstore employees were not at all eager to talk which I found odd since it was sort of the whole reasons they were there.  Several of them read our sign and said  “I already have my dream job so I don’t need your book” to which we responded “Aren’t you here to find books to stock in your store? ”  That seemed to totally puzzle them which was even more weird, making me wonder why they thought they were there. 
Everyone associated with the show was extremely nice and gracious.  That included the Freeman staff setting the show up.  We really appreciated this because it seemed like everyone was really grateful to each exhibitor even us small guys.  All the booths around me were great and I’m going to get links up on our website to all of their books.
All in all it was fun and we’ll definitely be back next year.  Tomorrow I’ll post my reviews of the breakout sessions with notes.
book expo booth

William Shatner and mingling with the stars

We were hear to learn and make contacts in the book industry (which we did) but the added bonus was the star power that came out to promote their works of art. In particular the highlights were
FOR LEAH: Robert Kennedy Jr & Rick Pitino. Both seemed extremely tired and a bit bored however they were courteous as ever and as personal as possible considering the times they probably flew in and got to sleep the night before. As an added bonus I said hi to Rick again when he was jogging on Sunday morning.
FOR DANIEL: William Shatner – No doubt one of the longest lines of the entire show, Captain Kirk was a gentleman and a class act. He signed with amazing speed in order to accomodate the large crowd. Definitely worth the wait in line!
For more about what we actually learned stay tuned 🙂
William Shatner