November 21, 2014

BookExpo America a Smash Success in New York City

By LJ Staff

The BookExpo America (BEA) annual conference drew legions of librarians,
publishers, and booksellers who packed New York City’s Jacob Javits Center, May
1-May 5. Approximately 2000 exhibitors–up 160 from last year–were spread over
two floors, offering a bonanza of treasures from publishers great and small. BEA
organizers welcomed librarians by offering discounts on admission fees. While
booksellers and others were charged $110 for registration prior to April 15 and
$150 afterward, librarians who registered before April 15 paid $75 and $110
after, a substantial discount. Nearly 600 librarians took advantage of the
preregistration offer, and many more came for a day or two from the tristate
area.

For adult book selectors like Terri Works, Stockton-San Joaquin County PL,
CA, there’s no place like BEA. “It’s just about books,” she said, unlike the
American Library Association (ALA) conferences, where children’s books
predominate among the relatively small percentage of book exhibitors. Numerous
librarians told LJ that they were able to collect several hundred
dollars’ worth of books, which publishers gladly gave away–unlike at ALA, where
free books are scarce. “We’re not interested in the schmaltz of ALA and PLA,”
Donna Ballard of the East Meadow Public Library, NY, told LJ. “This is
the best buying place of all the trips.” When asked how many books she and
another librarian would collect, Ballard answered: “As many as we can carry–and
we can carry a lot!” Kathleen Sullivan of the Phoenix PL said she comes to BEA
to discover “small press gems.” Other librarians noted they came for library
book programming ideas and to talk to authors about coming to their libraries.
There were many side benefits for publishers as well: New York City provided a
particularly visible venue, and many publishers noted that they made many more
media connections than they had in Chicago or Los Angeles in recent years

Though no one big title created a buzz, numerous titles from solid
authors–Umberto Eco’s Baudolino (Harcourt), Tim
O’Brien’s
July, July (Houghton) and Nick
Tosches’s
In the Hand of Dante (Little, Brown)– left
booksellers and librarians excited about the fall season. The show also has
gotten noticeably less glitzy, and while the larger publishers still dominated
the floor, a plethora of smaller houses and university presses also had a strong
presence, making for a very businesslike atmosphere. The zealous push for
e-books prevalent at previous years’ BEA gatherings has just as quickly run out
of steam. Except for Scribner, which announced a program to electronically
publish Ernest Hemingway’s full canon, e-books were conspicuously missing from
this year’s affair.

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