This was the first year that Boston Book Bums could dispatch part of the team down to Book Expo America. We found it a rewarding experience, chatting with fellow bloggers and those in the publishing industry. It also piqued our curiosity at how the industry will change and adapt to reading habits. Also, BEA made us keenly aware of the need for healthy relationships between publishers and presses with professionally conducted non-traditional media.
BEA should not be considered a con like ComicCon or ReaderCon. No, this is a place for professionals within the industry to meet, promote future releases and build partnerships with sellers and beyond. Surely there are fan autograph signings that had some readers waiting in line for long periods for face to face time with with authors. And yes, there were the stages where celebrauthors got to expound. But at it’s heart, BEA was a valuable resource for mature readers and bloggers to interact with the industry.
In speaking with several publishing houses and small academic presses, we found a commonality in comments. BEA11 was ‘good’ but ‘not like it used to be.’ The new normal for publishing seems to be both exciting and worrisome for producers of the books we love. Business was done during the first few days, according to one publisher, with the last day or two a sort of maintain level interest.
As a member of the non-traditional Fourth Estate, we at Boston Book Bums were more interested in understanding how publishers interacted with each other in this fishbowl called Javitz.
But don’t get us wrong, when it came to after parties, we were all about that too! Yet as we walked the stalls ranging from the tiny fringe bibliophilic items to the mammoth publisher pavilions we sensed a vibrancy and love for the printed word slightly muted by the unsureness of what is to come. Between NEIBA 10, the Publisher reps session in Sandwhich and now BEA, we feel about as well informed about upcoming releases into 2012. But the important unanswered question is how the industry will continue to adapt to the digital landscape.
If we were to gripe, it would be the lack of manners by some non-industry folks when it came to ARCs. When ARCs were placed out by one publisher the shoving and rapacious grabbing for copies was unprofessional. It reminded us of tweens gripped by Bieber-fever or parents in 1980s hip-checking each other for first generation Cabbage Patch Kids.
Wednesday night we were lucky to snag an invite to the Harper Perennial Blogger Appreciation party at the fantastic bar, Bill’s Gay Nineties. With the top floor dedicated for we book bloggers, we were privileged to rub shoulders with not just bloggers, but publishers and authors.
On the heels of just reviewing her new release The Ninth Wife, we chatted with the enthusiastic Amy Stolls. How important is this interaction between author and reader? A very pregnant Stolls wrapped her arms around one of our team, utterly pleased with the fact her novel was read.
Another fantastic run-in was with Northshore author Brunonia Barry, who fantastically engaged us. We’re lucky to have snagged a invite to the Salem Literary Festival from Brunonia, so we’ll see you in September.
And to say we were ecstatic that we finally met Jamie from The Broke and the Bookish and Perpetual Page-Turner is an understatement. Our gal in Pennsylvania has a contagious love for life and books. We could have talked for hours more about everything from the perils of blogging to weddings.
We also made some new Social Media friends, biblioholics with Twitter handles, like @sassymonkey and @stackedblog. BTW @stackedblog we are on like Donkey Kong for BEA12 karaoke party! And if you want to talk Les Habitants then @sassymonkey can go toe-to-toe about the NHL and books.
Overall BEA proved to be a mature way to get in-depth into the publishing industry and still find those moments to let your hair down.