I must count myself among the many who were startled by the smaller footprint at BEA. It seemed to be the topic du jour in all my encounters. There are three main factors affecting this: meeting rooms which allow a smaller display footprint and are situated around the edges and not perceived as part of the show; consolidation among the big houses; and decisions by a number of houses not to take booth space.
The total effect was significant and when combined with a shift in emphasis from display to author signings, the impact of the show was very different from past years. Yes, there were many long autographing lines but no other sense of crowds. Is it good news that no booths were so busy that you couldn’t walk through easily? Hard to say, but it’s the first year that has ever been the case.
Yes, one can point to fewer bodies because New York publishing staffs could not drop in for a few hours as they do at the Javits Center, but that is only part of the explanation.
Booksellers find Winter Institute to be the real working meeting these days and many publishers would agree that’s where upcoming titles are made. Rights directors point to London and Frankfurt as their key shows. So where does that leave BEA? What is its primary purpose these days? Even the adjunct programming has fallen off now that Publishers Launch and others are not participating.
These are the questions that will need to be debated over the next months. – Amy Rhodes
Though the floor itself wasn’t as much of the focus as in recent years, the programming was definitely worthy of attention. As usual, there were Editors’ Buzz panels for Adult, YA, and Middle Grade books, as well as the AAP Annual Librarians Buzz Part I & Part II. And then there were the usual ABA, ALA and other association meetings. And of course, presentations and panels: Nielsen’s Director of Research and Analytics Kempton Mooney did an analysis of what’s really working in the market, other than coloring books. (If you write to him at [email protected], he might send along the presentation.) Faculty from NYU’s Center for Publishing conducted a panel discussion on “What Publishing Students Teach Their Professors.” Jon Fine moderated a well-attended panel on “Authorship in the Digital Age,’ with Scott Turow, Joe Konrath and Barbara Freethy.
There were also contiguous conferences – The Audio Publishers Association Conference, IDPF (a proposed merger with W3C was announced right before the conference), and the National Museum Publishing Seminar. So while the exhibition alone was not as robust as in past years, the combination of exhibition, panels, and related conferences made the week in Chicago a worthwhile expedition. – Lorraine Shanley