"The value of personal interaction still trumps all" is a firm belief of Steve Rosato, BEA show manager, who is all fired up for BEA 2011, the second under his command. And while the event's main focus is books and authors, technology and the digital revolution is also at the epicenter of this year's Expo—big time.

Yes, BEA is back, this year a little brawnier, now running three days as opposed to last's year's experiment at two. Rosato's emphasis on "authors" and "event" is again in evidence, as the show will feature more than 600 authors and 1,300 exhibitors. Along with pre-, post-, and concurrent programs, the Javits Center will be hopping for a full week, beginning with a Do-It-Yourself full day of meetings on Saturday, May 21, and ending with a Book Blogger Convention on Friday, May 27.

Digital Partners

BEA attendees will enjoy the company of a strong digital presence, both on the show floor and at concurrent special programming. BookExpo has formed partnerships with International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), Publishers Launch, and BlogWorld, offering conventioneers access to leading shakers and movers in the digital publishing/distribution world.

The partnership with IDPF includes the IDPF Digital Zone, which to date has 30 booths and 20 kiosks in 7,500 square feet of space at the Javits not including Google, Amazon, and HP, all of whom have substantial booths outside the Digital Book Zone. IDPF will also conduct its well-established Digital Book Conference on Monday and Tuesday. In addition, the recently announced Publishers Launch Conferences, a partnership between Michael Cader and Mike Shatzkin, will debut at BookExpo America on May 25 with a day-long session about digital change that's aimed at international visitors and the Americans who might be doing business with them.

On Tuesday, comes BlogWorld and New Media Expo; on Friday--the day after the show floor closes--the Javits will host the second annual Book Blogger Convention, the world's largest social media business conference and new media industry trade show. Expectations are that sharing the same venue and timing will benefit new and traditional media players, improving communications at all levels.

Adding to this techno-energy, BEA's conference program (still in formation at this writing) will be even more heavily focused on digital issues, with panels on the latest intelligence, social media, emerging publishing models, and enhanced e-books. Other digital activity and diversification at BEA include an introduction of a new mobile app for BEA; live Twitter feeds running at key conference programs; enhanced and expanded video podcasts of all author special events via bookexpocast.com. According to Rosato, the new partnerships and initiatives "signal the biggest change that BEA has ever had in one single year.... BEA not only needs to keep up with this change, it needs to be part of this change and perhaps even influence the change."

We should say as well that PW's own Show Daily will be published and distributed on the three days of the exhibit, and is done so this year in partnership with BEA. Last year, before PW's purchase from Reed by George Slowik Jr., both the BEA show organizers and Show Daily were under the same corporate ownership. Since the sale, PW and BEA have formalized their partnership in the show. Look for official BEA updates and addenda in the Show Daily.

Books & Authors

Of course, BEA will always be about the books and authors, which are the pulse of this event. There will be no shortage of either, with three breakfasts, three buzz panels, about 500 autographings in a special area as well as in publishers' booths. With all the book literati in New York at this time and BEA's tradition as an exclusive convention for book industry members, there is a lot of excitement on the synergistic opportunities for BEA's New York Book Week taking place the week of May 23 for the general consumer. Public events at bookstores, New York Public Library, the Center for Fiction, Symphony Space, and even the new Apple store will give the public lots of access to authors.

The Center for Fiction is hosting a program for Spanish-language authors at its space on East 47th Street on Sunday night; the New York Public Library is featuring a science fiction/fantasy evening on Tuesday; Charlaine Harris is doing a reading and q&a in Bryant Park on Wednesday during lunchtime; later in the evening, Symphony Space is having performers Gabriel Byrne and Cynthia Nixon read from a new collection of Edna O'Brien short stories.

How Many Booksellers

Ask Steve Rosato about publishers not taking booths at BEA or downsizing to smaller booths, and he calls it "rightsizing." Note the fall-off of university presses, and he says what many know: that staff and budget reduction is a key reason and that UPs "are slower to rebound." He says that BEA has the highest satisfaction rate—86%—of all the conventions run by Reed Exhibitions.

Rosato notes that he is specifically focused on bringing VIP retailers to BEA, and these include independents ("they are more important than ever before"); the mega-retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Books-A-Million; and specialty stores. He points to the museum stores coming this year as a sign of this success: "We have 415 new buyers and staff coming." In fact, Wednesday has been named Museum Day, and BEA has arranged for special ID badges. There was also a strong push for category buyers and other specialty outlets.


Here are some highlights of the week; rest up and wear comfortable shoes.

Saturday, May 21

DIY Authors Conference & Marketplace: A well-attended and useful day for the growing numbers of wannabe writers looking for a publisher or advice on how to self-publish. Speakers include highly regarded DIY service providers, many of which can help package content into book form. A baker's dozen panels are on tap, beginning with "Why the DIY Revolution Has Made It the Best Time Ever to be a Writer"; other panels are "Tips for Success from Authors Who Have Gone Before You," "Independent Publishing at Amazon," "Twitter for DIY Authors," and "Emerging DIY Opportunities & Models."

Sunday, May 22

IBPA Annual Publishing University: It's a two-day event, with several courses on e-books, including "E-Magination: What's New and What's Next in E-Reading" and "Google E-Books: How Publishers Can Maximize EBook Sales—On- and Off-line." Monday's lineup ends with the 23rd Annual IPBA Benjamin Franklin Awards for Excellence in Publishing in 2010, followed by a concert featuring the Beatles tribute band Mostly Moptop.

Monday, May 23

ABA Day of Education: Sponsored by Ingram Content Group, the all-day event is geared toward ABA membership but is open to all BEA attendees. Curriculum includes lots of program for children's booksellers organized by the Association of Booksellers for Children.

Adult Buzz Panel (4:30–5:30 p.m.): This is one of the most eagerly anticipated panels at BEA each year, and the 2011 lineup looks very promising. The six editors pitching their big fall books are Little, Brown's v-p/publisher Michael Pietsch on The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; Doubleday executive editor Alison Callahan on The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; Dutton senior editor Denise Roy on The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson; Algonquin senior editor Kathy Pories on Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron; Norton v-p/senior editor Alane Salierno Mason on The Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber; and Houghton Mifflin senior editor Jenna Johnson on We the Animals by Justin Torres.

The Audio Publishers Conference: The 2011 APAC will offer concurrent tracks—a Publisher Track and a Narrator Track. Here, too, a lot of the sessions will look at the challenges faced by audio publishers in the digital world. On Wednesday afternoon, APA will host an Audiobook & Author Tea. Emcee is TV personality Star Jones, author of Satan's Sisters (Brilliance Audio). Guest speakers include Karin Slaughter (Fallen, AudioGo); Tony Horowitz (Midnight Rising, Macmillan Audio); and Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle, Hachette Audio).

Tuesday, May 24

Exhibit Hall: opens at 9 a.m.; closes at 5 p.m. (Badged exhibitors will have access to the floor at 8 a.m each morning.)

Children's Book and Author Breakfast: Julianne Moore (Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever, Bloomsbury) will host Brian Selznick (Wonderstruck, Scholastic); Sarah Dessen (What Happened to Goodbye, Viking Children's Books/Penguin Young Readers Group); and Kevin Henkes (Little White Rabbit and Junonia, Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins).

Young Adult Buzz Panel: Participants include Simon & Schuster editor Courtney Bongiolatti on Michelle Hodkin's The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt senior executive editor Margret Raymon on Joe Schreiber's Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick; Little, Brown executive editor Alvina Ling on Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone; Macmillan senior editor Susan Chang on Bill Willingham's Down the Mysterly River; and HarperCollins senior editor Erica Sussman on Leigh Fallon's The Carrier of the Mark.

BlogWorld & New Media Expo: This is the first time it has been held on the East Coast. Access to its very successful exhibit floor will be complimentary for all BEA badge holders. BlogWorld anticipates more than 1,500 attendees, 200 speakers, and 100 exhibitors. More details can be found at www.blogworldexpo.com.

Wednesday, May 25

Exhibit Hall: opens at 9 a.m.; closes at 5 p.m.

Book and Author Breakfast: Emcee is Mindy Kaling of the hit show The Office—she's Kelly—and author of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Crown Archetype). Speakers are Diane Keaton, promoting Then Again (Random House); Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot (FSG); and Charlaine Harris, Dead Reckoning (Ace/Penguin Group USA).

Middle-Grade Editors Buzz (2 p.m.–3:15 p.m): Five editors will present their major titles. They are Simon & Schuster editor Lisa Abrams on Lisa McMann's The Unwanteds; Balzer + Bray v-p/copublisher Donna Bray on Wildwood by Colin Meloy (lead singer of the Decemberists); Scholastic Press executive editor Lisa A. Sandell, on Matthew Kirby's Icefall; Putnam's v-p/publisher Jennifer Besser on Maile Meloy's Apothecary; Random House editorial director Jim Thomas on N.D. Wilson's The Ashtown Burials #1: The Dragon Truth.

Thursday, May 26

Exhibit Hall: opens at 9 a.m.; closes at 3 p.m.

Book and Author Breakfast: Jim Lehrer, author of Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to McCain-Obama (Random House) is master of ceremonies. Featured speakers are Roger Ebert, Life Itself: A Memoir (Grand Central); Anne Enright, The Forgotten Waltz (W.W. Norton); and Erik Larson, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (Crown).

Friday, May 27

The second annual Book Blogger Convention at BookExpo America, a one-day event providing instruction, interaction, and creative space for book bloggers and publishing industry professionals. Programming includes a keynote address from Sarah Wendell of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Breakfast and lunch are provided, and the registration fee ($135, but $120 if registered before May 5) includes a ticket to the author-blogger cocktail reception planned for the previous evening, Thursday, May 26

More information is added regularly on www.bookexpoamerica.com on exhibitors, panels, author stages, concurrent events, the International Rights & Business Center, and more.

Rosato sums it all up: "There is a lot to be learned, and our challenge at BEA is to create an environment where innovation and new ideas are welcome, and information is freely exchanged. Many of our initiatives in 2011 have this objective."

Click here to read our complete BEA 2011 preview package.