Andrew AlbaneseAs bookstores face up to the challenge of digital distribution, book publishers are conceding that so-called sales to “the trade” are giving way to a straight-to-consumer pitch. For booksellers, a response is to use digital to their advantage. At BookExpo America, the nation’s largest book publishing event, the answer can be found in a comic book.

Earlier this week, BEA organizers re-branded “Consumer Day” as BookCon, echoing the crowd-pleasing efforts of ComicCon, an annual convocation of superhero fans and graphic novel aficionados.

“BEA officials have done a great job rolling with the changes to publishing. This acknowledgement that the consumer is an important part of BEA, when BEA has been a trade-only show for so long, is a big deal,” notes Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer.

“In 2013, Consumer Day at BEA had limited success–it drew about 2000 consumers,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “BEA officials are hoping the the re-branding and tweaking its consumer element of BEA, can ignite the show. I bet it can, and I hope it will. One only needs to check out the Saturdays at Frankfurt, or the ComicCon at Javits to see how interested consumers are in publishers’ products. Any chance to win a direct relationship with a consumers should be seized.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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