Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Book Expo of America Impressions

Takeaway Feeling at Book Expo - Reinvigorated, Excited About Books
Everywhere I looked people shared the passion and love of books and memories of reading. Author Dennis Lehane mentioned on a panel how he will always remember the first book he read. I think it was Smokey the Bear.

He also shared how his book Mystic River he didn’t think would become a best seller because it was a sad book. Of course, it did, but that humbleness was what the audience loved about him. And we all clamored to have his new book, The Given Day autographed, just one of the many book treasures I picked up at the Expo.

Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran shared how books allow you to live in the imagination and how vital this space is to freedom of the individual and to a country. She shared how in Iran that Desdemona was edited out of Othello because they thought it would depress the people and that Olive Oil was edited out of Popeye because of her apparent low morals. These forms of censorship stifled the imagination and the experience of the story itself.

I left her panel wanting to celebrate the right and priveldge to read, something that shouldn't be taken for granted.

Marketing Impressions:

1. The average publisher featured 2-4 books at the show. They probably gave away an average of five hundred books per title. That’s a huge expense.

2. Some publishers featured book samplers. These included sample chapters of a book by a known author. Or included collected bodies of work. For instance, I picked up Paris Review’s sampler of interviews with authors.

3. Most publishers had giveaways in addition to books. These included: beautiful color catalogs, totes, book marks, clever candy, cookies, or magnet type promos around the theme of the book. Some had hats and t-shirts.

4. Authors autographed books at their publisher’s booth, or shared a booth with another author. Many signed books following a panel or signed books at the designated autographing area. Authors like the publishers participated in the huge free book frenzy of Book Expo. It’s the nature of the expo, but I suspect that that will change in the future.

5. Booths for authors
The writers’ row area which was in the secondary hall of the show had several booths for authors. Many authors teamed up to share booth costs. They gave away book marks and were quite selective about who they gave a free book to compared to the larger publishers.

6. Sharing of booths by independent publishers
Various university and literary presses teamed up and shared booths. But they still gave away a ton of books.

7. What seemed hot and different?
a) Graphic novels were very big at the show both from U.S. publishers and Asian publishers.

b) Environmental books and environmentally conscious book giveaways. Along these lines I did check out Amazon’s Kindle Device. Of course, I looked up my novel Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries and that was fun. I liked using the device. It was easy to navigate and a treat to use. I think devices like this will continue to play a larger role in the future as we as a society become more conscious of our carbon footprint.

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