One of the trends I have noticed in attending BookExpo over the last several years is that it seems to have gotten smaller with regards to the size and floor space it covers at the Javits Center at the same time it has expanded in a way to welcome more and more people who are not publishing industry professionals into the space. The former phenomenon certainly has to do with a consolidation in the industry, with any number of smaller publishing houses having been acquired by larger corporate entities (one of my favorite publishers, Black Dog & Leventhal, being a case in point); undoubtedly, too, the progressive growth in online sales of not only books but also related intellectual properties has contributed to the apparent contraction of the size and scope of the annual event – it’s easy to forget if you’re an attendee who creates, reads or reviews content that BookExpo primarily functions for the sake of book sellers and others in the business of delivering that content to consumers. With regards to the latter aspect, it’s mostly felt in the transitioning of the three days of BookExpo into the two final days of BookCon within the same Javits footprint – wherein the floor space taken up by exhibitors shrinks even more, but the public attendee crowd swells, not only to browse areas where they can purchase books but also to sit in on public presentations by authors and other publishing notables.
Accordingly, for most prospective attendees to BookExpo who are in the industry, many approach the event with clearer objectives and often a more predetermined schedule of who it is they need to meet up with there (or off-site for the duration), whether to continue with mutual projects already underway or to forge new relationships and generate new business. Indeed, one literary agent of my acquaintance who has attended BookExpo for decades did not even stop in at all last year due to the need to proceed with ongoing negotiations and contracts, such that any jaunt to Javits would be a distraction not necessarily leading to any additional business, at the same time constraints of time might make any additional opportunities to be found at BookExpo superfluous to requirements. For those however who will be going to North America’s largest gathering of the book trade over May 29-31, there will as always be much of value, including some new features.
New last year and featured once again will be the ‘The Vital Bookstore’, an interactive experience curated by Franklin Fixtures, a venture by bookstore display specialists Lisa and Dave Uhrik, along with input from bookstore owners and experts, including Franklin designer Christine Hart, consultant Kate Whouley and others. According to BookExpo organizers The Vital Bookstore was “incredibly well received” last year and for 2019 “has been reshaped to help both libraries and booksellers do deeper dives on the important topics of Visual Display, Pattern Languages and Fixture Fundamentals.” The ultimate goal of it is to demonstrate features that can ensure bookstores to remain thriving and growing in today’s fast-changing retail world; last year it featured four life-size walk-through vignettes: a café, a store with modern décor and sideline merchandising strategies, a traditional store with a classic library look and shelving designs, and a children’s store with special features to engage young readers. Visitors can explore the store three ways: taking a self-guided tour, examining fixtures, shelf talkers, and photos showcasing great ideas from large and small bookstores across the U.S.; taking a small-group guided tour for eight to 10; or joining one of numerous 30-minute dialogue sessions with bookstore owners and thought leaders on a variety of topics, such as Creating Store Sales in Non-Traditional Ways, Easy Merchandising Changes That Work, and Disaster Preparedness.
Other new features for 2019 designed to create more value for BookExpo Attendees and Exhibitors will include a co-location with New York Rights Fair, the ABA [Audio Book Association] Editors’ Speed Dating, a stage dedicated to Independent Publishers and the debut of a new “show within a show,” UnBound – which is where The Vital Bookstore will be found. Here retailers and business owners will share ideas and best practices to help build a profitable gift business with talks at the Choice Stage. Professionals who will be speaking here include Dominique Raccah, Publisher & CEO of Sourcebooks; Kim Sayle, Vice-President & Associate Publisher at Hachette Audio; Genevieve Smith, Features Director of New Yorkmagazine; and Jacqueline Woods, author of Red at the Bone. On May 30 from 2:15-2:55 PM special experts on gifts Sarah Schwartz, Kim Saltzstein, Chris Doeblin and Grace Kang will be dispensing their wisdom on how to ‘Wow Your Customers with Great Gifts!’; on May 29 from 2:15-3:00 PM John Smyth and George White will be holding forth on ‘Greeting Cards and Books – A Profitable Match’. Other presentations at the Choice Stage will include the DC Showcase on May 31 from 11:15-11:50 AM where Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kami Garcia, Sean Murphy & Meg Cabot will speak; an Audiobook New Titles Showcase on May 29 from 4:15-5:00 PM featuring Mo Rocca; ‘Visual Merchandising Fundamentals – taking Stock & Leveling Up’ on May 29 from 12:15-1:00 PM, And ‘Pattern Languages of Successful Stories’ on May 30 from 12:00-12:45 PM.
Also, new this year will be The Indie Publisher Stage, where “countless” independent publishers will have an opportunity to present their projects and talk about their business experiences. As part of this program on May 30 from 11:00-11:30 AM Pamela Paul, Maria Russo and Jane Pauley will discuss ‘How to Raise a Reader’, and on May 31 from 2:00-2:30 PM ‘Winning Westeros’ will be the topic taken up by Max Brooks and ML Cavanaugh.
Of course, there will be as usual a goodly number of other presentations featuring both authors and publishing professionals, including Special Events, for some of which advance tickets are required. Expect large crowds at the ‘Downtown Stage’, where on Friday, May 31, 12:50-1:30 PM John Cena will be presenting Elbow Grease vs. Motozilla; and on Wednesday, May 29, 12:10-12:45 PM George Takei will discuss From American Enemy to American Icon; other talks here will be Rick Riordan Presents 2019: Rick Riordan with Rebecca Roanhorse & Kwame Mbalia on Thursday, May 30, 12:05-12:35 PM; and on Thursday, May 30 from 10:10-10:50 AM it will be the ‘But That’s Another Story’ Podcast, Hosted by Bestselling Author Will Schwalbe and featuring Stephen Chbosky and other guests. Another reason the Downtown Stage should be a busy place is that’s where the New Title Showcase, the #1 place to launch a new print or eBook title, will be found; created in partnership with Combined Book Exhibit (CBE), the New Title Showcase provides a prominent venue for publishers to launch new titles and put their books in the hands of booksellers, librarians, distributors, the media and consumers.
Always anticipated and well-attended is the Audio Publishers Association [APA] Authors Tea, which will take place on May 30 from 2:30-3:30 PM; discussing how the talents of narrators and authors combine to create great audiobooks will be Hamiltonstar and audiobook narrator Euan Morton and authors Laurie Halse Anderson, Philippa Gregory and Jerry Craft. Certain to also garner a full house of attendees will be the Author Breakfasts. The Children’s Book & Author Breakfast will feature former ‘First Daughters’ Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush, Da Chen, Lupita Nyong’o, Eoin Colfer and Tomi Adeyemi; while Rachel Maddow, Marjoria Liu, Karin Slaughter, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Malcolm Gladwell will speak at the Adult Book & Author Breakfast.
If that’s not enough programming, there will also be the BookExpo’s Editors’ Buzz program, which has a stellar track record of predicting the coming year’s hottest books. (Last year’s selections included breakthrough books such as: Ohio: A Novelby Stephen Markley; There Will Be No Miracles Hereby Casey Gerald; Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram; Girls Of Paper And Fireby Natasha Ngan; and Sadieby Courtney Summers; over the past three years, 11 books selected by the program hit The New York Times Best Sellers lists.) With a selection process made
by three separate committees comprised of publishing industry professionals from titles submitted by exhibiting publishers, with an eye out for books that will grab the attention of and engage a wide variety of readers, Jenny Martin, Event Director for BookExpo & BookCon, notes that the “Editors’ Buzz program has consistently selected titles and authors that will soon become household names”;the Buzz Panel presentations, which feature book editors discussing the individual selections, will be supplemented with Meet the Author Buzz panels where the selected authors will discuss their work.
The dates and times of the three Editors’ Buzz Panels where the books’ editors will present the selected titles: the Adult Editors’ Buzz Panel on Wednesday, May 29 at 1:45 PM (Room 1E12); the Young Adult Editors’ Buzz Panel on Thursday, May 30 at 10:00 AM (Room 1E12); and the Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz Panel on Friday, May 31 at 11:00 AM (Room 1E12). Attendees can meet the featured authors at the following panels:Meet the Adult Authors Buzz Presentation on Thursday, May 30 at 11:00 AM (Room 1E10); Meet the Young Adult Authors Buzz Presentationon Friday, May 31 at 9:30 AM (Downtown Stage);Meet the Middle Grade Authors Buzz Presentation will on Friday, May 31 at 1:35 PM (Downtown Stage).
The full list of Buzz selections: ADULT
How We Fight for Our Livesby Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster; Publication Date: October 8, 2019);
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (William Morrow; Publication Date: January 7, 2020);
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Alfred A. Knopf; Publication Date: September 17, 2019);
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Putnam Books/Penguin Random House; Publication Date: January 7, 2020);
Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener (MCD / Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Publication Date: January 14, 2020);
The Warehouse: A Novel by Rob Hart (Crown; Publication Date: August 20, 2019);
Frankly In Love by David Yoon (Penguin Young Readers; Publication Date: September 10, 2019);
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (Wednesday Books; Publication Date: September 17, 2019);
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (Hyperion; Publication Date: October 1, 2019);
The Revolution Of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Publication Date: August 20, 2019);
Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart (Delacorte Press; Publication Date: October 1, 2019)
Free Lunch by Rex Ogle (Norton Young Readers; Publication Date: September 10, 2019);
Jinxed by Amy McCulloch (Sourcebooks Young Readers; Publication Date: January 7, 2020);
My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi (Penguin Young Readers; Publication Date: August 27, 2019);
Pavi Sharma’s Guide To Going Home by Bridget Farr (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Publication Date: September 17, 2019);
Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi (Candlewick Press; Publication Date: October 1, 2019)
For detailed information on programming, ticketing and all other aspects of BookExpo 2019, taking place from May 29-31 at the Javits Center in New York City, check on the website at www.bookexpoamerica.com.