Less than 24 hours after Reed Exhibitions announced that it was closing BookExpo Canada and not starting a new consumer event, different parties in Canada began to explore the possibility of establishing a less expensive annual gathering that could meet the needs of the industry’s different constituencies. Susan Dayus, executive director of the Canadian Booksellers Association, said she was disappointed by the decision, adding that the association still believes “there is a need for a national gathering of booksellers, publishers, authors and others connected to the book industry.” She said the CBA is looking at the possibility of launching a new event this year. She noted that the association had always held its annual general meeting in conjunction with a convention and said the CBA will immediately begin exploring the feasibility of putting some sort of show together, but was uncertain what form it would take. Dayus said while Reed’s announcement wasn’t a big surprise “we hadn’t been planning an alternative” to the show.
Kim McArthur, president of McArthur & Co., was a big supporter of BEC and not in favor of a consumer show, which she believed was too late and too limited in the number and type of booksellers that could attend. “I’m sorry to see the end of BookExpo Canada in June,” McArthur said. “Although all of us publishers realized that it was not a great return on investment in terms of the outlay of cash to mount booths and bring authors in to meet the booksellers, it was the only game in town at the right time of the year to launch our fall lists.” Her idea for an alternative comes from the just concluded ABA Winter Institute. She said the two days of educational panels and publisher presentations was impressive. “Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Canadian publishers and booksellers could organize something like this to replace BEC in June? A fraction of the cost, at the right time of year, and all publishers--Canadian and multinational--could participate. I’m all for it, and we still have time to organize it,” she said.