Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Other Comments About Book Expo

Before I end this section on BEA, I'd like to include some comments from other Independent Publishers who attended Book Expo. I apologize for not posting sooner, everyone. I've had some family emergencies pop up (nothing serious, thank goodness, just time consuming).

"As this was my third Expo, I've gotten better at the networking. The first time you walk around in a haze because there is so much to see. The second time, I was a little more of an expert, but still shy with introductions and speaking to people. This time, I made some good connections."

-Judine Slaughter

"Once a month I travel from DC to NYC for meetings. Some of these meetings cover details for an upcoming publicity campaign. Other meetings are to get new business. There is something about book people in that they love placing a face to the name. Especially with the larger publishers where your firm won't be thought of when the next contract comes through without that personal contact. So, to me, that's what most people get from BEA. A super-sized, speedy, way to make a lot of introductions. My fav BEA story: I had been trying to work with a small HarperCollins imprint for a while. At BEA, I "ran into" Jane Friedman, made some small talk, introduced my firm, and that was it. Of course, my next pitch to this HC's imprint mentioned Friedman's comment about something our firm did, and well, sometimes that's enough.I saw the commentary from Chelsea Green's office disparaging the worth of trade shows in general; their thought was that you could go with trained sales reps, online marketing and do OK. Perhaps. But there is an undefinable quality to these trade shows that moves books, starts creative partnerships, and stirs ideas. But one day is probably enough. Count ourselves lucky, us independent publishers, that most of us have freedom to roam about the BEA!"

-Kelly Powers
Obie Joe Media

"This was our first year exhibiting at BEA, but not my first exhibiting at shows of this size in other industries. All in all I believe is was a valuable show for us. However, here's what I felt to be the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

* Contacts. This show gives growing publishers an unprecedented opportunity to make contacts with a variety of people and services. I spoke with distributors, sales reps, associations, printers, illustrators, the media, and lots of other publishers. Our goals for making contacts and opening discussions were well met at the show.
* Information. I found a lot of people who were happy to talk about their companies, their products, and how they were achieving their goals.

* Insofar as I could tell, the West Hall (children's books, cook books, indie publishers, writers, etc) received about 1/3 the attention the South Hall did.
* We met with very few librarians. PW reported that their attendance was very low and suspected it was due to an ALA meeting in LA later this month.

* Apparently "Independent Publisher" has become an acronym for "Self-Published Author." We'll never exhibit in the Indie Publisher section again.
* In the West Hall we easily saw more yellow exhibitor badges than we did blue retailer/bookseller badges.
* One of our authors, who attended BEA last year in NY, told us the LA show was vacant by comparison. My seat-of-the-pants guess is that only 15,000 attended.
* When the door man stopping you from taking your boxes out at 3:50pm on Sunday tells you that the FedEx shipping counter will be open at 4:05pm, don't believe him. We had to beg to get them to ship our stuff home.

Would I exhibit again? yes, eventually."

-E. Keith (JB) Howick, Jr.
Wind River Publishing

"BEA is the proverbial elephant, and we're the blind people, each describing the whole based on the part(s) we touch. For me, BEA is mostly a matter of face time, making and building relationships that either are useful, or may someday become useful. So, for me, it fits into "vital confab." As an exhibitor, my BEA was seen primarily from my fixed position in my booth in the Publishers Group West (PGW) area. Why exhibit? Because people (and opportunity) can find you. When you're walking the floor, you can find other exhibitors, but finding anyone else who walks the floor is a matter of chance. I once walked the floor, essentially hat in hand, and was essentially another face in the crowd. I saw much, but accomplished very little. With a booth near the front-center of the main exhibit hall thanks to PGW, traffic is very, very good. Traffic is much slower in the small press exhibit area (hint: don't let the lower price of a small press booth seduce you. If you're going to exhibit, spend the extra money for a booth in the main exhibit area). Again, it's a matter of face time. Since much of my business does go through traditional trade channels, the show's emphasis on the traditional book trade speaks very much to my needs. I had meetings with my domestic and international distribution partners, discussed international rights with a very enthusiastic overseas publisher, was introduced to various booksellers as they were escorted around the PGW area by PGW reps, and had lots of interaction time with the staff and executives at PGW and its parent, Perseus. That kind of familiarity pays dividends all year long. All my time was not spent in-booth. I ventured out several times to touch base with various suppliers and friends around the show floor. Again, face time has its long-term benefits I'm certain I moved my business forward on a variety of fronts. Had I tried to do the same without BEA, I'd probably have paid far more on airfare and hotels, spent far more time away from the office, and still not have accomplished as much."

-Dave Marx
PassPorter Travel Press

To read another perspective, read the Catalyst Press Blog. J.L. Powers is the publisher and has become a friend thanks to BEA. We'd chatted several times but finally got to meet face to face at BEA.

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