Monday, June 01, 2009

Book Expo Recap


For those outside the book publishing world, Book Expo of America (BEA) is the annual gathering of book publishers, book sellers, librarians, authors, editors, and hangers-on. It’s where deals are struck, buzz is created, and the schmoozing oozes. As you can imagine, this year’s version was a bit subdued compared to previous years.

As I wandered the rows of publisher booths at the show on Friday, I noticed a few things. First, I did not see very many new books. I had been hearing rumors of publishers shelving almost entire seasons of new releases until the economy gets better, but it really struck me here. In the past, many booths had stacks and stacks of pre-release books and galleys. This year, it was easy to navigate my way through the crowds without bumping into books.

Secondly, and I fully applaud this move, there were three stages right on the expo floor, where authors and influencers gave interviews, talks, and presentations. Much of this was about how to use Twitter and social networks to promote content. Not necessarily books, but content.

This brings me to my final observation. It seemed to me that everyone at the show was waiting to exhale – waiting to see what comes next. I firmly believe that there will be a need for good content: wonderful stories, engaging nonfiction, thrilling poetry. And I think everyone recognizes that the book as we know it is quickly evolving to other, more electronic forms. The big question is what this will do to our reading and writing styles? I look to the music industry where the notion of an album is evolving in the face of iTunes. Audiences are getting used to only paying for the content they want.

What do you see happening? What are you willing to pay for?
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