Josie Leavitt - May 19, 2011

I can’t believe BEA (BookExpo America) is next week. Where has the time gone? I feel like it’s a month earlier than I’m ready for. You wouldn’t think a trade show would be so hard to prepare for, but there’s always a lot to do. The first thing is adapt to some changes; one of the changes is the show floor is now back to open for three days, not just two. One change that I’m nervous about is the shift from having two floors of exhibition hall space to one. Usually, the children’s books are downstairs in their space, and while it might be nice to have the children’s books on the same floor as the adult books, it could make an already crowded floor practically impassable.
I just now sat down and savored the educational offerings on Monday’s chock-full Day of Education. Two of my favorite sessions are the Small and Mid-Size Store and Children’s Roundtables. These are a great way to find solutions to many of the problems bookstore owners encounters every day. Event ideas that I would never have thought of are shared freely and with great excitement. Staffing issues, how to deal with landlords, computer systems and anything else that booksellers encounter every day, but are seldom discussed, are literally on the table.  Really, there’s nothing booksellers like more than to talk about the business of books. I leave the Roundtable inspired and enthused.
There will be discussions of e-books, which frankly, I’m already tired of. I know I should care, but honestly, it just feel like such an uphill battle for indies to get a foothold, that I’m overwhelmed and there are other things I’d rather do.
The session on Strategic Thinking to Create New Business Models translates on to how to stay business and thrive, which is something most bookstores could benefit from. Then there’s the session Turning Mind Share into Market Share in the Children’s Market, which is about children’s bookstores can get more of the bookselling market in a tough bookselling climate. Creating Events for Children is always a wonderful way to learn about how to have events you never would have thought of.
Other nuts and bolts sessions include Free for the Asking: Marketing with PR and Social Media, a great session for stores to learn how to get noticed without paying for it. Social Media is the newest thing, hardly a rage anymore, but stores need to learn how to use Facebook and Twitter to their advantage to help them stand out above the fray, and how to get new customers.
Tuesday the show floor opens after the Children’s Breakfast from 8-9:30, which features some pretty great speakers: Katherine Paterson, Julianne Moore, Brian Selznick, Sarah Dessen, and Kevin Henkes. These breakfasts are very early, and I often grumble about their early hour, but it’s a gift to hear these wonderful authors and illustrators speak about their art and their inspiration. I always leave with a bounce in my step, happy that I sell children’s books.
The annual art auction is different this year, because the ABC has merged with the ABA and is called the ABC Children’s Group at the ABA. They are presenting the annual auction of one-of-a-kind great art from some truly amazing children’s book illustrators. This year the proceeds benefit the new ABFFE Fund for Free Speech in Children’s Books. There will be an auction, but this year it’s earlier, from 5-7:30, on Wednesday. This allows everyone a chance to have dinner later as well as bid on some really stunning art. Follow this link to see all the art that’s up for auction. I’ve already set a budget and I know there will be some fierce bidding going on. Secretly, I’m hoping there will be an announcement of who the new children’s liaison for the ABC Children’s Group will be, but while I wait for news of that appointment,  I will circle and defend the art I’ve already fallen in love with. It wouldn’t be the art auction without some furious and sometimes contentious bidding. Perhaps the thing I like the best is the easy mingling with illustrators who are also huge fans of other illustrators. There’s nothing as charming as an awestruck bookseller trying to outbid an awestruck illustrator who have both found art from a favorite childhood book.
I’m packing a large suitcase with space for galleys for staffers and hopefully, some art. I will leave NYC exhausted but exhilarated, and that is as it should be.

3 thoughts on “BEA!!!

  1. Andrew Porter

    My first ABA/BEA was definitely 1975, though I’m sure I also went to at least one when it was held in the Shoreham in Washington DC. Back then, the exhibits were on card tables in the hotel’s parking garage. And the first time it was held on more than one floor was also in DC, in 1988. There was even a badge unhappy exhibitors wore, about being at he American Bookcellars’s Convention.
    My best recommendation for enjoying the BEA: wear comfortable shoes. You can always tell first-timers (women only) because they’re wearing fashionable high heels.

  2. Nancy Naigle

    I’ve got my comfy shoes ready to go. You will never be able to tell I’m a first timer 🙂 This is my first time at Book Expo in NY. I can’t wait to mingle and learn and make new friends.
    My debut novel will be on display at the New Title Showcase. It’s called Sweet Tea and Secrets. Yes, the cover looks just as southern as it sounds 🙂
    See you there.


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