Book Expo America: Some poor sap always has to dress up!
So this weekend I'm off to Book Expo America
in Washington, DC, the annual orgy or flim-flam, temperamental authors, raised expectations, busted budgets, and moaning about the publishing industry. Gene and I have been paying through the nose for a booth and delivery of items to that booth for umpteen years now, and this year will probably be our last.
Time was when BEA was actually remunerative. You'd display information about your forthcoming titles for the interest of booksellers. You'd give them a special conference discount and they'd give you a special conference order, and everyone was happy. Well, the booksellers have been swallowed up by the Great White Whales of Barnes & Noble and Borders and these large chains and other book vendors such as Amazon and Ingram order their books centrally and outside of the fair.
Now you stand at your booth and get pitched at by desperate authors, flashy public relations hacks, typesetters from India and printers from China, and all of it at your expense. Apart from the grousing about how lousy the industry is, everything's changed from only a few years ago, which is why some of the larger publishers don't bother with booths at all, but walk the floors and chat to old friends and ask their fellow publishers just how much they paid for that bookstand.
Next year, the Expo is in New York. There'll be the usual parties and gossip, and a chance to kvetch, and you can bet that Gene and I will be there to do that. Just don't expect us to be standing at our booth, forlornly hoping that a bookseller might come by. It's not going to happen.