This past weekend, I was a noob —at BEA 2013.
I’m not new to NYC. I’ve been there. And I’m not new to trade shows. Been at that for years now. And I’ve been a reader a really long time.
But I’ve never been to this trade show, in NYC, and seen all of the wacky shenanigans the publishers come up with to get people to read the books they put out. (see photo) Mostly the publishers have their famous and not-so-famous authors in the booths, signing books that won’t be officially released for months, and people line up for sometimes hours to get these ARCS/galley copies. I met one of my favorite authors, and she gave me two books when I mentioned my mom liked her stuff, too. Now that's classy!
[Photo:] Helium balloons, with accordioned paper legs and leashes... so you could "walk" them. I heard they were going for $60 at one point.
Overall, the new professional topics that kept coming up among all attendees were collaboration/teamwork, books with humor, discoverability, and metadata. Of course, digital publishing and ebooks and technology were around too, but they’ve been around a while.
Speaking of which… the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) Digital Book Conference took place on Wednesday and Thursday, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend it. I got a few details from the Publishers Weekly daily show guide, and the conference’s agenda, however.
-- “The Open Web Platform and Digital Publishing” – Two tastes that taste great together. Three different keynote speeches on this topic; they also discussed discovery.
-- Hybrid Authors – Different discussions throughout the two days on What Authors Want, and How authors publish in various ways today (traditional vs. self-pub)
Thursday and Friday are considered the main days for the BEA show. So there’s a lot to pack in. We – in the Bowker booth – saw a lot more traffic in the afternoons rather than the mornings. We attribute this to book people not always being morning people.
I also noted that the floor was partially broken up by the geography that the publisher covered – Saudi Arabian, Mexican and Chinese books were heavily represented.
Other highlights and snippets:
-- Great quote from the PW Show Daily: “It’s the one time of year when the publishers need to hand-sell to their biggest hand-sellers.”
-- The Publishing Hackathon: “Where developers, designers and entrepreneurs came together for 36 hours to experiment in book discoverability.” Another topic they presented on was How to Succeed as a Publishing Start-Up.
-- “Star Wars Reads Day”: Jabba the Hutt and R2D2 appeared to help 11 different publishers release several Star Wars-themed books.
-- Celebrity spottings: Grumpy Cat, Julianne Moore, Gloria Gaynor, Ann Romney, Tim Conway, Paula Deen, Jim Carrey, Mo Willems, Giada DeLaurentiis, Chris Matthews, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Saturday was the designated Consumer Day, where the general public is allowed to hit the show floor, learn more about publishing in general, and grab up lots of free books. UpublishU, formerly the DIY Authors Conference & Marketplace, held sessions that day on marketing and publicity, discovery, building a platform, working with editors, and showed off with some success stories. Vendors who serve self-published authors lined the hall, offering help with everything from barcodes to library distribution.
But the highlight of the UpublishU was keynote speaker Neil Gaiman, who in addition to hawking his latest adult and children’s books (he has one of each), spoke on “Why Fiction is Dangerous.” I can only imagine.
Please leave your comments and impressions about this year’s BEA below. We’d love to hear how your experience compares!