As I was going through my NYC photos, I came upon this one, taken at Union Square. I couldn’t resist–it was so very New Yorkish: showy, unnecessary, and a bit over the top. Nothing compared to Dubai, of course, with their gold camel statues, largest indoor ski slope in the world, and most expensive malls, but it did catch my eye.
I am now “officially” up-to-date on the publishing world, having been inundated with the “latest and greatest” at BEA. I am also officially bogged down with a countless number of hot-off-the-press galleys and autographed books (no complaints here). I went light on the sessions today, attending only one in entirety: “The Next Decade in Book Culture: A Conversation Sponsored by the National Book Critics Circle.” It was interesting, from my perspective as a newbie, simply to hear editors’ opinions about the current state of reviewing, especially the pros and cons on online reviewing, one of which is the prevalence of “unprofessional” blog reviewers (like myself I suppose), although they never defined the term “professional.” (I’m assuming this definition includes being hired and paid to write reviews by a major outlet in the literary world). However, that was only one panelist’s opinion. Another stated that the comments that follow online reviews are “the great equalizer” –meaning that other commentators are free to defend or refute the original review, making the entire review process a form of democratic exchange.
Another important point brought up was as there has been an “explosion” of online reviews, one would expect a similar explosion in book sales…and that hasn’t turned out to be the case. The reason, it was surmised, is because segments of reader interest are so granulated, so specific, that the “mass market” isn’t affected.
The topic of e-galleys versus paper copies of course came up, and all I can say is I agree with the panelist who argued that reading is an intimate experience, and it’s difficult to feel intimate with an ipad or a kindle…as much as we may love the technology itself.
At the top of my reading list for the next few months are The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton and Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw, both reviews for the HNS (and due soon!), and then the four delicious HF discoveries from this week: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay, Juliet by Anne Fortier, West of Here by Jonathan Evison, and A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer. I will be reviewing them all here, but it may take me a while yet.
For anyone considering attending BEA, I would wholeheartedly recommend “YES!” Being steeped in all-things-books-related is not to be missed. Where else can you see people patiently reading while standing in lines, hauling around totes of tomes heavier than their own body weight, and sitting on the edges of a convention center with their noses stuck in books?
Heaven right here.
Day 2 of BEA–next time I think I’ll skip Day 1. I went to one panel in the morning yesterday–the outcome was that publishers are unsure about their footing in this new “e-world,” authors are concerned about their intellectual property rights, and an agent had nothing but sarcasm for the audience. Even with this being my initial foray into the commercial publishing world, I didn’t have to be a genius to figure that out. That was it. I didn’t make it to the Editor’s Buzz at 4:30–I thought I could figure out the Metro system, peruse the entire Strand, and get back to the convention center in due time. What I didn’t know about New York exhausted me!
Today though, was INSANE. I loved it. I caught up on the Editor’s Buzz by listening to the “chosen six” speak about their books, finally met my fellow American HNS editors in PERSON after almost a decade being involved with the society (such a wonderful time!), and spent countless hours wandering the aisles of the exhibition hall. I spent a good deal of time with one of my authors–and now a person I can call friend–Suzy Witten (The Afflicted Girls), whose efforts over the past many years are finally being recognized. I’m proud of her. And it was a blessing to be able to meet her in person.
Yes, the free books at BEA are nice. Maybe nice isn’t the word–exciting, enticing perhaps. However, it is the interactions, however few and brief, that impacted me most today. I was very proud to introduce one young lady to the Historical Novel Society (probably my proudest moment of the day!). Going to author signings, I tried to engage the authors and gauge their personalities. Anne Fortier (Juliet) is a highly sensitive person, based on hearing her speak at the panel and her reaction when I told her I really appreciated her sensitivity (and her 6th sense). I saw her face light up– I suspect she doesn’t hear that often. I enjoyed meeting Jonathan Evison (West of Here)–he’s quite a talker and, from what I heard and witnessed, quite a rebel. Obviously, these are simply observations from the back room…but I am fascinated with authors’ personalities and how they translate into their writing.
Tomorrow looks to be another fine BEA day. More signings, more panels, more meeting people. I’m happy as a clam here.
I honestly hadn’t heard of Book Expo America until a few months ago when I became professionally involved in the publishing industry…and here I am settling in my little room in the big apple. Tomorrow is the first day. I don’t know what to expect, but I do know that any conference revolving around books and publishing can’t disappoint! I just checked the floor plan on the BEA website and I was shocked–how in the WORLD am I going to be able to visit every booth I want to??? How am I going to find my way around??? I’ve been perusing various book blogs for tips about how to handle this colossal event–and I’m taking some of the advice to heart, most importantly, the SHOES. What a dilemma. Look good or feel comfy. I have opted for something in between–a nice pair of sandals. Let’s hope that works.
Tonight I became exploratory out of necessity–having food allergies and traveling are uncomfortable companions, so I had to stake out the nearest Whole Foods and learn my way around a bit of the Metro, walk about 10 blocks…but, hey, what’s being in the big city without exploring by foot? Times Square, the garment district (where I’m staying)–it was a good start. I couldn’t remember what country I was in, hearing so many different languages being spoken–India, Russia, Ireland? New York is still the melting pot it always was, eh?
I’m resting now, anticipating how EXHAUSTING these next three days are going to be. I can’t wait until tomorrow. See you there!