Book Expo America, the book industry’s annual convention, opened this morning at the Javits Center here in New York, and Steph and I went across town to check out the fun. I’ve been going to BEA for as long as I can remember, and naturally, every year is a comparison to prior shows. Hence, for the purposes of keeping score:
1. Crowds—check plus. Boy, was it a zoo this morning—getting out of the Harper booth was like Times Square at rush hour. Granted, the largest crowds are usually opening morning, but I’ve seen years when the attendance was noticeably down. And the lines for author signings, both on the floor and in the signing area, were impressively long. Will be curious to hear how well-attended the breakfasts and panels are.
2. Galleys—check minus. Seems like every year, there are fewer and fewer galleys, or at least ones that are worth taking. Scholastic had out the new Maggie Stiefavater, and I snagged Sylvia Nasser’s new book (author of A Beautiful Mind)¸ but that was about it. Yes, there have been years where I came home empty handed, but there are also years when “big books” were plentiful—this wasn’t one of them.
3. Buzz—meh. I know, this is totally subjective, but it just didn’t seem like there was a lot of excitement about specific titles or categories. Not that 2010 was a big year, but I remember seeing a huge banner hanging over the entrance for Keith Richards’s Life—this year, it was for the new Alex Cross novel, and while Alex Cross is great and all, it’s still a little… meh.
4. Mood—gold star! Despite a lack of buzz, on the whole the publishing folks seemed much more upbeat than in recent memory. Again, maybe it’s opening day fever, but I got a collective sense of optimism that’s been lacking recently. Considering all the hue and cry over electronic publishing since last BEA, it’s great to see so many people excited about books!
So, overall, a good visit to the Javits Center. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more on BEA in this blog over the next few days. Hopefully my colleagues will have positive reactions as well—and hopefully better galleys, too!