Reed Exhibitions, parent company of BookExpo America, is in discussion with the American Library Association about taking over the organization’s two main meetings--the June annual convention and the January midwinter meeting. The process is far enough along that Reed has talked to a number of the major trade houses about the prospect and about the idea of combining BEA with the ALA annual meeting. The two shows typically run about a month apart; next year ALA is set for June 23-28 in New Orleans while BEA is scheduled for May 24-26 in New York City. Although the New York houses appear cool to the idea, there is not sufficient opposition to stop the process from moving forward. If a deal is reached, Reed is believed to favor locating BEA and the ALA annual meeting in 2012 in Chicago, creating in effect two shows under one roof. It wasn't clear if the shows would move around the country. The midwinter meeting, which will be held in San Diego in January, would continue. No sale of the ALA shows is contemplated.
Reed and ALA executives acknowledged that talks are in progress, but declined to offer details. "BEA and ALA have been talking about ways in which we might work more closely together in the future. Discussions are ongoing; we'll let everyone know if and when we have anything to report," said Courtney Muller, senior v-p at Reed Exhibitions. "Both BEA and ALA have no further comment.”
Although BEA and ALA are held close together, they are very different shows. The ALA, which runs for almost a full week, features hundreds of educational meetings for librarians, and a large portion of exhibitors come from technology companies and other vendors that serve the library market. And while the BEA has dramatically reduced the amount of glitz during its convention, there is far greater attention paid to drawing media attention to the fall titles than at ALA, and as such publishers bring different authors to the different events. In addition, librarians have an uneasy relationship with Reed Exhibitions' parent company, Reed Elsevie, over the pricing policy of Elsevier’s journals. Although an increasing number of librarians now attend BEA, how they would feel about Reed Elsevier having a major say in their own show is unclear.