Book publishers, like all media producers, are well aware that generating valued content is only half the battle—the rest is getting it to consumers where, when, and how they want it. The immediacy of digital delivery, the ubiquity of mobile devices and e-readers, and the lightning pace of media consumption has both battered traditional elements of the old supply chain and galvanized publishers—and authors—in an effort to survive and, hopefully, thrive.
The 2013 edition of BookExpo America is a vivid reflection of all these notions. It is hardly a trade show anymore; it is a raucous gathering of people with a variety of interests in the culture and commerce of the book.
“BEA has been hyper-focused in the last few years on delivering value for our core constituents of publishers, booksellers and librarians,” says show director Steve Rosato, who took the helm of show, run by Reed Exhibitions, four years ago during the depths of a recession. “At the same time we have introduced many new elements.”
Indeed, the four-day event, running from Wednesday, May 29 through Saturday, June 1 at the Javits Center in New York, will host a digital conference, a bloggers’ convention, a day for the self-publishing community as well as a day for perhaps the most important sector in this business we call publishing: the consumer. And yes, there will be three intense days of an open exhibit floor, nearly 60 education panels, more than 700 authors in attendance, including prominent and popular authors at the three breakfast panels.
As evidence that publishing is increasingly an international business, this year’s guest of honor at the Global Market Forum will be Mexico. In partnership with Mexico’s Council for Culture and Arts, BEA will feature professional programs as well as literary and related cultural programs promoting the publishing industry of our neighbor to the south. Below is rough outline of the flow of days at the Javits Center next month.
Wednesday, May 29
The BEA Conference program begins its three-day run (no panels on Saturday) with about 20 panels per day on everything from tweeting to hosting virtual book tours to the thornier issues, such as e-books in libraries. Of special note on Wednesday are the Global Market Forum opening remarks at 9:30 a.m. and the ABA Plenary session at 10 a.m.—“Publishing, Bookselling, and the Whole Damn Thing: A Conversation with John Sargent,” Macmillan CEO. Also of note: the CIROBE Remainder Pavilion opens at 11 a.m. on Wednesday (a day before the rest of the trade floor). Also on Wednesday, the bloggers have their day. The BEA Bloggers’ Conference will feature an opening keynote by author and publishing veteran Will Schwalbe. The IDPF Digital Book Conference also opens on Wednesday (running for two days). A perhaps not-to-miss event: author Brad Stone (who is writing a book on Jeff Bezos) talks to Malcolm Gladwell about “the future of digital publishing.”
Thursday, May 30
The day starts with the Adult Book & Author Breakfast, and quite diversely: Chelsea Handler will serve as emcee, and Ishmael Beah, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Wally Lamb will talk about their fall books. The show floor proper opens on this day, at 9 a.m., and the swarming for great galleys begins (see our guide as to “galleys to grab,” p. 28).
Friday, May 31
The Children’s Breakfast will be moderated by Octavia Spencer; with her on the dais will be Mary Pope Osborne, Rick Riordan, and Veronica Roth. Also on Friday, at 1 p.m. on the Downtown Author Stage, Amy Tan will be in conversation with Leigh Haber, a publishing vet and now books editor at O magazine, followed by a q&a and book signing. In the afternoon, at 4 p.m., the Audio Publishers Association will have its Author Tea, with singer/author Janis Ian as emcee, joined by Bill Bryson, Louise Penny, and Brandon Sanderson.
Saturday, June 1
Saturday’s breakfast will be emceed by Hardball’s Chris Matthews; he will talk about his forthcoming book, about a time “when politics worked.” Also on the panel: Helen Fielding, Congressman John Lewis, and Diane Gabaldon. At 10 a.m., Neil Gaiman will be on the Downtown Stage, with a q&a and book signing to follow. Saturday is the day for self-publishers, as uPubU, the educational program for aspiring or practicing self-publishers, runs all day, from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. And of course, Saturday is consumer day as well, as BEA, which introduced the concept of “Power Readers” on the Thursday of last year’s show, brings them in this year on the weekend. It should wind up a heckuva show. As Steve Rosato sees it, “All the seeds we have planted over the last several years are beginning to bear fruit, and that is what will propel BEA and the industry forward.”