Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BookExpo: Day Two Wednesday - Stifling a Yawn

A good show day and, while I left as the cleaning staff arrived, a long day but mostly a day of boredom. The same conversations about the same problems spoken by the same people.

At one session I went to neighbor of the blog Bruce Lubin admitted that "digital is a pain in the ass" and to 'publishers of a certain age' there's a tendency to have some twenty year old take on the digital stuff. But, he cautioned 'you are doing yourselves a disservice by not taking on this responsibility yourself'. It seems to me an obvious truism but sadly a reflection of the continued hesitancy of the industry to embrace the new digital world. That anyone would have to say this in 2011 and for it to be internalized by 'publishers of a certain age' is regrettable.

During the day, I ventured into the bowels of Javits where something called Blog World was holding exhibits. While small, the vibe here seemed much more dynamic. Some companies seemed to have their entire staff on their booths and for all the black jeans and other requisite accoutrements of trendy new media I got the strong sense that I could expect this exhibit space to grow in size while I am less sure of the space upstairs where all the brand name publishers are exhibiting. Time will tell.

Yesterday I covered the comments from DRMAbuse but today's pithy comments come from The Reading Ape who numbers his/her observations:
2. Imprints from the Middle East had some seriously huge and beautiful booths. Though, much like a mall in Dubai, they were huge, beautiful, and empty.

4. There was one guy sitting the lounge outside the registration area with a weird hat advertising his book PROVING GOD. He sat there alone and made no move to pitch anyone his book or move about at all. I guess they don't make evangelicals like they used to.

12. The L. Ron Hubbard landing craft was a bit smaller this year, though it was more informative. Did you know you can get Dianetics in over 37 Earth languages?

17. A truckload of digital publishing businesses who all provide weirdly vague services. Can't help but think this is a kind of carpetbagging before the war is over.
Passing by the Dubai 'exhibit' two blonds (booth candy) conversing about what they planned to wear that evening but otherwise the booth was completely empty.

NY Times columnist Julie Bosman on the digital offerings at the Bookfair:

For three days the attendees wander the exhibit halls, mingling, promoting books, listening to speakers and collectively musing over the state of the industry over the past year. They have a lot to discuss. E-books have exploded, surpassing print sales for some new releases. The struggles for many brick-and-mortar bookstores have deepened as their customers began downloading books onto their e-readers from home rather than heading to stores.

Easily eliciting the most chatter was Amazon’s announcement on Sunday that it had hired one of the industry’s best-known veterans, the publisher turned agent Laurence J. Kirshbaum, to head a new imprint for Amazon that will publish general-interest titles. On Wednesday Amazon said it had acquired a book by the thriller writer Barry Eisler, who had announced this year, with much fanfare, that he was abandoning a six-figure contract with his publisher out of dissatisfaction with the traditional book industry.

Largely without insight but Jason Pinter's comments in the HuffPo mixed reality with entertainment:

She was an aspiring author, having completed a historical romance novel that she'd been working on for several years. She described it as "The Help, only better," and had come to BEA in hopes of enticing one of the hundreds of publishers in attendance to take a chance on her manuscript. "Everyone who's read it loves it," she said, adding that she refused to leave the conference without finding a home for her book. She was the kind of person, she told me, who wouldn't take no for an answer. For a brief moment, my unfortunate cynicism kicked into gear. As a former editor, I've been pitched by aspiring authors so many times at BEA and in other locations that I, for an instant, forgot what it felt like to be an author desperately hoping that my manuscript would find a home. I immediately felt wretched for this knee-jerk reaction, but one thing that reaction did is illuminate my feelings about BEA, and allow me to understand why it is so vital to the publishing industry.

It can be summed up in one word: Hope.

This woman's dreams, in a way, represented the dreams of every publishing professional packed into the steamy, Internet-unfriendly Javits Center. Every one of the 30,000 attendees entered BEA with dreams--and at BEA they all seem so tantalizingly possible. Amidst all the doom and gloom recently penned about the publishing industry, whether the opinions are actually informed or merely Chicken Little crowing at the sky (hello, Garrison Keillor and the New York Observer!), BEA exemplifies the passion and enthusiasm that is the backbone of the publishing industry. And that passion, in the face of all the changes, upheaval and negativity, is still wonderfully alive and kicking.


@Lmarknyt the lines for mindykaling and jimmyfallon at #BEA11 were too long... but i did get a free galley by an obscure croatian poet

@emilyw00 Kay: textbooks moving increasingly toward testing and diagnostics, Norton will have to decide what to develop or acquire there.

@IrisBlasi: Overheard @ Google: "Publishers are like venture capitalists for authors."

@nikki_blogworld Views from the Show Floor: Between the awesome sessions at BlogWorld today, I got a change to ...

Towards the end of the day, twitter abounded with the news that the "Kobo party rocks" but since I wasn't invited that's the last time I mention Kobo (ever).

Day 1: Tuesday
Set-up Monday

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