Sunday, May 31, 2009

Readers at BookExpo?

If like me you have stayed over the weekend at the Frankfurt bookfair on even one occasion you will know that the fair opens to the public. A public largely interested in reading and publishing. The startling thing about this is that on each day YOU CAN'T GET DOWN THE AISLES FOR THE PEOPLE!

I bring this up because not only do the US and UK publishers bitch and moan about having to man their booths at Frankfurt - and generally, myself included, the executives tend to evacuate early Saturday anyway - but these same publishers are not interested in opening up BookExpo to the public either. Admitting there are some logistical issues, but in the face of a BookExpo where the most common statement on the floor seemed to be 'will this be the last or second last' one, I would argue opening BookExpo to readers and customers might not be such a bad idea. Actually, I don't have to argue it because Richard Nash has done so on the PW show blog this morning:
I draw the following conclusion. The publishing business is not in trouble because there's no demand for books. It is in trouble because there are changes afoot in how best to satisfy the demand, changes to which there are suitable responses, two of which are fostering fan culture, and generating a sense of occasion, and the leaders of the largest publishing organizations are failing in their professional responsibility to implement these responses. By reducing their participation in BEA at the same time the media participation has increased by almost 50%, by refusing to open the Fair to the readers on Sunday, these CEOs have effectively thrown in the towel. They are managing the demise of the book business, pointing fingers at any generic social forces they can find, failing to see the one place the responsibility can be found, their own damn offices.

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