The organizers of this year's aborted "Frankfurt in New York" rights show may try again in 2003, albeit with a different name and partner. Book packager Michael Cader and industry consultant Mike Shatzkin have for the past few months been in serious talks with BookExpo America about staging a rights show in May 2003. The show, which would be called Publishing in New York, would take place in Manhattan just before BEA kicks off in Los Angeles.
The Frankfurt Book Fair, Cader and Shatzkin's previous partner, left the project after several publishing veterans publicly criticized the organizers for not sufficiently consulting with the industry. With Frankfurt out of the picture, BEA and its owner, Reed Exhibitions (which is part of the company that owns PW), could step into the breach.
BEA support is crucial; show organizers said that it would be difficult to pull off a convention in seven months without the help of a large corporation. Shatzkin described a possible division of responsibilities as "right-brain, left-brain," noting, "We will work to develop the program and they will run the logistics." But the group on which the show's fate hangs has yet to decide whether it will play a role. BEA show manager Greg Topalian says he is still "trying to ascertain whether this is something the community wants. The real question for us is: Are people, many of whom are already customers at BookExpo, going to see it as a value-add, or will they see it as us making them go to another book convention? We're doing quantitative research. Once that comes in and is tabulated, we'll make a decision."
Sources on the organizer side are optimistic that an agreement can be reached, and that they can assuage one of Reed's main anxieties—that the timing of the show could cannibalize attendance from BookExpo—with strategic scheduling.
The aim of Publishing in New York is to bring together agents, editors, packagers and subrights professionals in a season when organizers say many are coming to the city anyway. The show's goal is to draw about 1,000 attendees in its first year. With declining numbers at Frankfurt and the increasing popularity of London, changes are already afoot in the world of rights conventions, and a New York show could further shake things up. Organizers, however, said they think their idea could work regardless of the state of other shows. "Our goal is not to upstage London or Frankfurt," said Shatzkin. "We simply want to enable existing behavior to be more efficient."