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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

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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