Three years ago, when Steve Rosato took the helm at BookExpo America, the book world and the country were still reeling from the economic collapse of 2009. Amid questions about the show’s future, it retrenched that year into a two-day, midweek event, designed to save attendees and exhibitors money. But Rosato subtly expanded the show, too, offering a day to self-publishers and aligning itself with literary events around the city, steps that broadened the BEA’s relevance beyond traditional industry folk.
Whether by design or simply in response to a business that is rapidly changing its definition, this year’s show is hardly in retrenchment. In fact, for a trade show that began cloistered in the basement of the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 1947, it has now, 65 years later, burst outside the walls of New York’s largest convention center and offers something for nearly everyone—from self-publishers to bloggers to consumers. And of course, the core constituencies—booksellers, publishers, suppliers, librarians, agents, digital service providers—are all the more well served by such a robust event.
Although the exhibit floor is back to three days (June 5–7), it is actually a five-day event, when all “concurrent” events are accounted for, from the uPublishU at BEA on Sunday, to Thursday’s Power Read, a cleverly designed opening of the show to consumers. Here are some highlights.
Sunday, June 3
Formerly know as the DIY Authors Conference & Marketplace, the newly christened uPublishU at BEA runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than a dozen self-publishing service providers will be on hand—including Blurb, CreateSpace, and Kindle Direct—and there will be a full day of presentations on everything from how to get your self-published book listed on search engines to the value of editing and the role of agents.
Monday, June 4
The Exhibit Hall won’t open till Tuesday, but the Javits will be buzzing with no less than five events:
BEA Bloggers Conference (8:45 a.m.–5 p.m.), which will feature an opening keynote at 10 a.m. by Good in Bed author Jennifer Weiner. There will also be a presentation of the first annual AAP Book Blogger Awards.
Audio Publishers Association Conference (8 a.m.–5 p.m.), a networking opportunity for industry players and newcomers.
ABA Day of Education (8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.), sponsored by Ingram Content Group, is open to all badge-holders—a full day of free education programming.
IDPF Digital Book 2012 (8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; and 9 a.m.–noon on Tuesday) will present several prominent speakers on the technical challenges and opportunities that the digital world offers publishers. Among the speakers are Richard Charkin, Jane Friedman, Seth Godin, Goodreads founder Otis Chandler, Tom Turvey of Google, and Dominique Raccah.
Global Market Forum: Publishing in Russia is the theme of this sprawling event, which is meant to bring Russian literature and culture to the U.S. market (see sidebar).
Tuesday, June 5
Stephen Colbert emcees Day 1’s Adult Book & Author Breakfast, which begins at 8 a.m. with fellow authors Junot Diaz, Barbara Kingsolver, and Jo Nesbø, followed by the opening of the Exhibit Hall at 9 a.m. (the floor is open till 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and till 3 p.m. on Thursday).
BlogWorld & New Media—a conference within a conference—begins on Tuesday and runs till 3 p.m. on Thursday. It is the first and only trade conference devoted to new media: bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, and Web TV and radio will be presenting their tools and tricks of the trade. The conference begins Tuesday and expands to the exhibit hall on Wednesday and Thursday.
Wednesday, June 6
Walter Dean Myers will make the opening remarks at the Children’s Book & Author Breakfast, which will be emceed by Chris Colfer and will feature authors John Green, Lois Lowry, and Kadir Nelson.
ABA–ABC Children’s Institute will run from 9:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is the first time for this event, a one-day program of learning, networking, and festivities focused on children’s books and bookselling, open to ABA members only. Registration gets you a seat at the Children’s Author Breakfast
Lunch with Neil Young at noon: bring your own lunch as the famed rocker talks about his new book, Waging Heavy Peace, coming from Blue Rider in October.
Thursday, June 7
Kirstie Alley will emcee the Adult Book & Author Breakfast, which will feature Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and J.R. Moehringer.
Buzz Panels, featuring selected editors talking about the books they are high on for the season: 4:15 p.m. on Monday (Adult), 10 a.m. Tuesday (Young Adult), and 11 a.m. Wednesday (middle grade).
Librarians’ Day of Dialogue: a 9 a.m.–6 p.m. event held on Monday at the McGraw-Hill auditorium and sponsored by Library Journal, with New York Times columnist Gail Collins as a special guest. There will also be plenty of librarian sessions during the BEA Education Program at the Javits.
Cocktails: the Digital Discover Zone on the show floor, sponsored by IDPF, will feature authors and presentations, as well as a 4 p.m. happy hour on Tuesday.
Author Stages: there will be plenty of authors being interviewed live at the Downtown and Uptown Author Stages, including Jane Fonda, Jane Lynch, John Lithgow, Charles Frazier, and many more.
Consumers! Power Readers is the innovative way that the BEA is inviting 1,000 laypersons—we mean big-time readers—in a program in partnership with selected bookstores. For a fee of $45, Power Readers will be given access to the show floor, mingling with the entire industry.
Around Town: Among the events of New York Book Week, hosted by libraries and theaters in the city, will be Richard Ford and Joyce Carol Oates in conversation on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at the Gerald Lynch Theater, John Jay College, 59th Street and 10th Avenue.
All in all, event director Steve Rosato is looking forward to a “transformational event,” and he is very excited about “the possibilities BEA creates for publishing.” Indeed, the show continues to develop what he calls the “B2B value proposition,” but with the expanded delivery of consumers to the show, not to mention digital providers and innovators—and Neil Young—indeed, the show has a lot to offer. “BEA faces forward,” says Rosato.
Global Market Forum Read Russia Around the Town By Peter Kaufman
BEA 2012 will present Read Russia, an international celebration of Russian writing and book culture that takes place inside the fair and across New York City, June 1–8.
Approximately 100 Russian writers, publishers, translators, librarians, journalists, and officials are coming to launch the program, which features business discussions about the Russian book industry, presentations of new Russian writers and their works, announcements of major new grants for translation from Russian to English, and a broad range of new initiatives designed to support Russian writing —fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary— in the American marketplace. Highlights:
On the show floor: Read Russia is centered at a 4,000-square-foot display and performance space at booth 2424, and there will be five Russian events at the Uptown Author Stage. BEA presenters will include Natalya Solzheni-tsyn, widow of the Nobel laureate, announcing the Solzheni-tsyn Digital Archive; Edward Radzinsky, bestselling author of The Last Tsar; Random House author Solomon Volkov on his new cultural history of Moscow; and Russia’s 2011 Big Book Prize winner, novelist Mikhail Shishkin. Also at the Javits, on Monday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., a full day of programming will unfold, giving an overview of the Russian publishing marketplace, its presence in and aims for the U.S. market, and much more, including the “digital future with Russia.”
Around town: There will also be panel discussions, readings, and workshops at the New York Public Library and other cultural and educational venues across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, with contemporary Russian writers and their American counterparts.
Announcements: The launch of a comprehensive Web site providing video, audio, photographic, and textual resources for promoting of Russian literature and book culture.
Art show: The Russian Children’s Literature and Art Expo will take place at a Tribeca gallery at 172 Duane Street, featuring illustrations from Russian children’s books published between 1881 and 1939, plus hundreds of original books and posters. Films series and live performances are also being planned. Details can be found about the entire Read Russia program at www.readrussia2012.com after May 1.
Wherever you go, it will be hard to miss Read Russia in the first week of June in New York City.
Peter Kaufman, an advisory board member for Read Russia, is the president of Intelligent Television.