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LMezz Goes to Book Expo America/BookCon 2014

I was so excited when the good people of Book Expo America provided LMezz a press pass to New York’s annual book event of awesome. I attended BEA (the professional trade show) on a Friday, and BookCon (the day open to the public) on Saturday.

Friday’s author signing events were so fun and plentiful that I was happily running all over the Javits Center floor between publisher booths and autographing tables. Highlights included trading quips with Seth Grahame-Smith, who was signing copies of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; checking out a YA thriller about a teenage girl who wants to kill by S.E. Green; and meeting not one, but two of my Regency romance heroes, Sarah MacLean and Loretta Chase.

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And books. Books happened.

My biggest regret was missing out on Lois Lowry signing copies of a new edition of The Giver, and Amanda Palmer signing/illustrating galley excerpts of her upcoming book. But I didn’t worry, because there was one more day of book geekery to be had.

BookCon (formerly known as Power Reader Day) is meant to welcome the public to BEA. While the public certainly attended, BookCon’s intentions–and overall organization–remained severely underdeveloped. Last year’s Power Reader Day was such a delight that the disappointment of BookCon 2014 was even more deeply felt. Shoving thousands of BookCon people into a third of the Javits Center’s BEA space was an especially poor choice. Mislabeling the location of events on the show program was another. Crowd control measures also weren’t handled well (with the exception of the John Green Q&A event, which had more teen wrangling than a One Direction concert). The only positive I could find in BookCon was the Image Comics booth, which featured free single first issues of many different series, and had a marketing rep who was super passionate about Image’s titles (I solemnly swear to finish my trade edition of Rat Queens).

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The John Green “line,” pre-wrangling.

I would say though that despite the frustration–and lack of super cool tote bags and ARCs–that the huge crowds at BookCon show opportunity. Even if the attendees only appeared at BookCon to see Grumpy Cat or Amy Poehler, they still paid the not-so-cheap ticket price to attend BookCon. Who’s to say these people wouldn’t spend the same amount of money for a book or two?

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The coolest tote bag I scored from BookCon 2014, autographed by Nicky Hilton. Awwwww yeah.

 

A Power Reader Goes to Book Expo America, Part 3

Last month I went to Book Expo America. Here’s my last (and belated) post about the event, where there are writing contests and some final thoughts.

The Contests!

Harlequin is having a contest where they are offering a publishing contract to the winner. And Quirk Books (of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fame) has a new contest where they are looking for love stories. Unlike Harlequin, however, something tells me that their love stories will have something… Quirk-y about them.

LoveStoryContest_postcard_WEB1 (1)
My vote is on shark meets pirate.

Final Observations: Trending and the Future

Advance reader copies didn’t seem to be as widespread. Instead, the main freebie took the form of an actual book. Some were titles with an upcoming release date. Others were semi-recent titles with corresponding author signings. One standout in that regard was a signing for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which was published in 2011. That didn’t stop the line from extending way past the booth. Since books themselves are cheaper than ARCs to manufacture (and many readers would prefer a “real book” rather than a marketing tool), this seems like a positive direction. Readers can still get books before any one else. And authors who have had hits in the previous year (like  with Peregrine‘s signing) can connect with fans and new potential readers.

Another element that seemed to be lacking was the presence of digital reading. Even though e-book sales keep growing, I didn’t see much geared toward e-books. Perhaps that may be because an in-person event equals physical manifestations of content. You wouldn’t go to Coachella and spend much time talking about your Spotify playlist, for example.

Power Reader Day is still a work in progress. Not all genres may benefit from a public day. Romance and YA were booming with events, along with commercial fiction and nonfiction. It may take longer for other genres to take hold.

There is still an element of the controlled chaos that is more chaotic than controlled. The tone of Power Reader day was mixed, with author signings, friendly editors, and publicity directors clashing with empty booths, sterile displays, and stone-faced representatives who didn’t want to speak to people with green badges.

Word on the street is that some publishers are still ambivalent about the public entering a formerly industry-only event. Many publishers, however, got the gist of the Power Reader Day, understanding the power of the consumer and making human connections with their brands.

It is understandable though how publishers want to utilize their precious BEA time by connecting with their regular contacts: teachers, librarians, and booksellers, all who support the book business and help curate tastes for the reading public. And that larger level of understanding is not same as the individual consumer.

Hopefully, next year’s BEA will continue to engage industry members and the public with new books and media. Until then, I’ll be waiting—and reading.

Other BEA 2013 posts: Part 1 | Part 2

A Power Reader Goes to Book Expo America, Part 2

The exhibitors at BEA came in all forms. Here are some of the highlights:

The Ellora’s Cave booth was a definite “expect the unexpected” moment. They were the kings of swag, with coasters, tote bags, jar grippers, print editions of their anthologies, and very to-the-point door hangers.

'Do not disturb' is so passe.
“Do not disturb” is so passé.

They also had Ellora’s Cave 2014 calendars available. But to get them, you had to meet the calendar models.

Where no erotica reader has gone before.

Three of the models were there, and they signed calendars, took pictures, and answered my questions. I was burning with *ahem* curiosity and wanted to know more about what it was like to be a Caveman. Unlike other book cover models, the Ellora’s Cavemen represent Ellora’s Cave titles only, with one Caveman doing about six or seven shoots for their covers—in this year alone. They also have a presence at events like Book Expo America.

And what a presence it was.

Next, we chatted with reps from New York supermarket mainstay Zabar’s, as they were interested in expanding their catering market… and sharing cinnamon and chocolate rugelach along the way.

Other fun exhibitor moments and books included:

  • A cute cozy mystery series set in Bath, England from UK publisher Accent Press.
  • A conversation about natural disasters with a rep from Hachette… where I also learned that lady blog Jezebel is coming out with an encyclopedia.
jezebel book
Your main form of procrastination: now in book form.
  • Academic publishers can totally be cool, as the University of Chicago Press showed with some gorgeous new editions of the ancient Greek plays.
  • The American Girl rep letting us indulge in our childhood as Priscilla and I remembered our favorite dolls. Mine is Samantha, forever and always.
Samantha-american-girl-dolls-161883_400_400
Fierce and flawless.

Finally, I was mad about the BEA-themed Mad Libs that were provided by Penguin. Here are some in the bathroom:

madlibsbea2013
In the next (and last) post, I’ll wrap up my thoughts on BEA and share some writing contests!

Other BEA 2013 Posts: Part 1 | Part 3

That’s right, folks. My experience with Priscilla Shay at BEA 2013 was so epic I have to break it up into separate posts. Let’s do this:

So I went to Book Expo America for the first time as a member of the general public. This is the second year BEA has opened its doors to the public, saving one day of its four-day book industry fest for its “Power Readers.”

What is a Power Reader, anyway?

According to BEA, power readers are “book lovers, fans, and avid readers.” They are also aspiring authors, bloggers, and book club members. They are the people who use (and abuse) their bookstores, local libraries, and Amazon Prime accounts. The “Power Readers,” nebulous term as it is, are the members of the public who are willing to travel to the Javits Center and pay the affordable but definitive price of admission to scope out what publishing has to offer them in the coming year.

And snag as many books and advance reader copies as their tote bags can carry.

The early bird gets the book worm.

Macmillan offered a tote bag filled with their titles to the first 1,000 Power Readers who checked-in at BEA. The Javits Center opened its doors at seven in the morning, which meant I was there not too long after to win my prize.

My precious.

The Macmillan giveaway was great encouragement to come early, and even though I had to wait in line until 9 for the floor to open, I could squee over my new books. I’m most excited to read the ARC for Havisham: A Novel. Also, since we were early, I got to meet other book lovers, get familiar with the day’s events, and spot Neil Gaiman on his way to his author event scheduled for later that morning.

And lo, the fan girls saw him walk by–and it was good.

Pets are welcome–the inflatable kind, that is.

One of the first things we noticed from our entrance point was a bunch of people with animal balloons. Really cute ones. So we found the source: a children’s picture book series published by AMO Publishing. The series follows a different animal in each book, and in the back of every book there is a helium balloon that can be filled (and refilled) in the shape of the book’s featured animal. I thought it was a brilliant book/toy combination.

We both got balloons in the shape of dogs. Priscilla got a white Pointer and named him Spot. I named mine, a brown and black Dachshund, Spartacus. We both asked the baloon-maker to autograph them. It was our first “signing” of the day.

The dogs on a blog.

So. Many. Celebrities.

It wasn’t my main focus for BEA, but I couldn’t help but notice all the noticeable people that were a part of Power Reader day this year. The news quickly spread that Jim Carrey was signing copies of his new children’s book. I learned from different exhibitors about how crazy it was when he’d been there the day before, with his bodyguards being more prominent than he was. Another comedian, Jim Gaffigan, spoke about his new book and did a signing (with a line that wrapped around the booth). At another point, I saw a sizable group of people surrounding Chris Matthews, who was also doing a signing. While the celebrities who do books can get on the cloying side, it’s great to have Power Readers excited about their projects, which leads to excitement about books in general, which is what all readers want in the first place.

Except for Ann Romney. Go home, and take your cookbook with you.

So that’s it for today. Check back soon, where I pick up the Ellora’s Cavemen, sample some rugelach, and meet more authors!

Other BEA 2013 posts: Part 2 | Part 3

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