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BookExpo America Wrap-Up: part 1

Live from a plane heading towardCharlotte, NC I figured I’d give you a summary of my BookExpo America (BEA) – the convention sponsored by the American Booksellers Association (ABA). 

Day One: Day of Education 5/25
The day opened with a plenary session entitled “The Value of the Book” You can view this and many other sessions on Book-TV this weekend.

The discussion members included people from the publishing industry from the publishers to author Scott Turow. Like many book talks these days the buzz and fuss was all about e-books and what that means to the world of publishing. Accusations were hurled about, concerns over intellectual property and author rights. As one point it seems like it would get ugly. But in reality it was a lively discussion that resolved little and raised some questions. A good start for the days to come.

The main accusation that rsesonated with is was raidsed my Scott Turow who asked “why aren’t the publishers paying better attention?” That in reference to the way e-books have gotten out of control with regard to publishers handling/distribution/pricing/etc.

My first workshop: 2010 Survey of Book-Buying Behavior
This was a discussion of a recent (4/10) online survey of the buying habits of Americans ages 18+. You can view the results  at    www.versoadvertising.com/beasurvey.

The interpretation of the survey was too detailed to write about here but take a look and see what you can extrapolate from the results. Ultimately I have an optimistic view of the survey even though an initial reading of it may appear bleak.

The second workshop I attended dealt with the more mundane ways of marketing a bookstore and creating buzz. It was a nuts and bolts practical session which gave me some resources for future store ideas. But it boils down to resources ans TIME is the greatest of these. But another aspect of this sessiondealt with a networking programming rolling out in Portland, OR called supportland.com. Very clever way of creating a nextwork of locally owned businesses. Again, this piece was complex but very creative: think of a loyalty card that is used everywhere and earns “frequent flyer” points toward goods/services. It’s impressive!

Third workshop was on selling books online. This was least helpful since they were addressing the most basic of technical concerns and never got into the meat and potatoes of the issue for me. I won’t bore you with the details of how bored I was.

Day Two (5/26)
I had to be at the convention center by 6:45AM to get tickets for two author signings: Cory Doctorow (new book For The Win) and Garry Teudeau (signing a lithograph from his latest Dooneabury book).

The exhibit hall opened today and I had my trusty BEA app for my iPod to maneuver my way through the maze of booths and mobs of people. I looked for familiar faces and ran into a few. I talked to two publishers who help me get some great ideas for the store. I even got a lecture from a person with a Blackberry who suggested that my iPod was MORE information than any one person really needed. She may be right but I’m not tethered to this device. 
My first event of the day was the 10AM signing with Cory Doctorow who wrote Little Brother. His new book For The Win is about people in other countries who win points on video games for those of use who are to lazy to play the game. Like all his books there are strong techological themes and cautionary words about us being at the mercy of technology. While we waited in line a fierce crowd od reporters and cameramen were queueing up to swarm Sarah Ferguson. It looked there might be a brawls slat one point. But Cory arrived and he was friendly and engaging. 
The second event on my schedule was a luncheon called “A Celebration of Bookselling” in which we were seated at tables with an author, his publisher rep and an ABA rep. There wasn’t much time for table talk because the program began with a brief commercial from our sponsor and then stirring words of support and affirmation from authors who spoke of there regard for independent booksellers. Cory Doctorow, Abraham Verghese, Judith Viorst, Scott Westerfeld, Rebecca Stead, Kate DiCamillo were among those whose word bright tears to my eyes. I was choked up more than once. 
[The plane is landing and I'll continue this in another posting.] 

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