Coming home from BookExpo always means a deep plunge back into the bookstore and a rush of catching up with the many little fires that tend to flare in our absence, those few things that our extremely capable staff aren’t in charge of and couldn’t sweep off the decks if they wanted to, which they do, because they are fabulous. What this means for ShelfTalker is that I always have piles of notes and photos and great intentions for blog posts about the marvelous events, education, parties, and new books we encounter at the trade show — but then the urgent overtakes the important and BEA fades before I get to fully bask in its delights.
Before that happens, I’d love to share an entertainment highlight, a smart publisher giveaway, a few photos, and some other best-of moments from the show.
Best entertainment: In addition to the Children’s Breakfast, which Josie blogged about here, I’d have to say one of the all-time great moments of this year’s show was listening to Libba Bray belt out torch songs from the 1920’s at a party (held at a backroom speakeasy) to celebrate her enticing fall release, The Diviners. Backed by a professional accompanist — the man has clearly done this for a few successful decades — she wowed the room. That girl can SING, and if I were Little, Brown, I’d seriously consider putting up some mp3s or 4s of that performance. Can’t wait to read the ARC, too.
Best view: Penguin threw a fantastic party at the top of the Standard Hotel near the Highline in the meatpacking district of New York, and in addition to the stellar list of authors in whose honor the cocktails-and-divine-snacks bash was thrown, attendees were treated to a magnificent view of the city on all sides.
Best swag: As some of you know, I am swag-impaired, which I blogged about a while back here. However, I can swing some swag if invited to a party where they just hand it to you so you can’t miss it — and that’s exactly what happened at a Macmillan lunch, where, after a delicious meal and interesting conversation with guest authors and tablemates, the publisher handed out one of the smartest promotional gift items we’ve ever seen: a sleek boxed ballpoint pen whose upper cap hides a 4G USB stick — cleverly preloaded with Macmillan’s tasty fall catalog, a folder of cover art and sample spreads, and a Macmillan publicity directory with publicists’ names, titles, and contact info. There are still plenty of gigs left on the drive for your own use, too. Great gift – fun, useful, lasting. Thanks, Macmillan!
Best Date: Speed Dating with Children’s Authors. If you haven’t been to one of these events, it is wild and well worth attending. This year, nineteen authors made the rounds of tables filled with booksellers; they each had just three minutes to wow us with a book “pitch” about their upcoming fall releases. It’s got to be exhausting for them, doing that nineteen times, but they were energetic and interesting from first to last. In an upcoming blog post, I’ll share all 19 authors and tidbits about their books with you. I love this event and was so delighted when it was introduced at BEA a few years ago.
Best Relaxing Author Chat: Tea with Children’s Authors. This is the antidote to the whirlwind of Speed Dating. While that one gets you revved up in the morning, the Tea allows booksellers an hour with just one author per table. I was at a table with the lovely, effervescent Shannon Hale, who spoke about her upcoming Princess Academy sequel, Palace of Stone. Conversation at the table ranged far and wide, from a discussion of ethics in the novel (favorite line from Shannon: “Yeah, that’s how to get the kids to read this book; tell them it’s all about ethics!”) to censorship to jacket design to Colin Firth. Oh, and there were baby pictures. (Shannon’s family is absurdly photogenic.) The opportunity to talk with an author at length about her newest work is a treat to be treasured, and booksellers at every other table with other authors felt the exact same way.
Best Shirt: Paul O. Zelinsky has an excellent tradition: each time a new book comes out, he makes some piece of clothing to wear incorporating the art from that book. For Swamp Angel, he actually carved a bowtie from wood (!). For his newest, Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, Paul turned several drawings into textile art printed on fabric. Paul was dandied up here for the ABC BEA Children’s Book Art Auction, which featured more than 100 pieces of artwork from the finest illustrators in the field. The auction raises funds “for ABFFE and its defense of the free speech rights of young readers.” Haven’t yet heard how much was raised, but it’s a worthy cause and always one of BEA’s highlights for anyone in the children’s book field.
Fellow BEA attendees, what were some of YOUR favorite delights? Feel free to add links to blog posts and pix in your comments.