BookExpo Evolves

Jim MilliotOrganizations and organism share more than a Latin root word. Both are never static, but destined forever for change. Over time, evolution takes its course. Organisms and organizations once dominant in their environments must find ways to adapt to change or give way to upstarts.

Once the annual conference of the American Booksellers Association – from a time before giant chains and Amazon, when publishers’ sales reps hand-sold forthcoming titles to thousands of independent bookstore owners  – BookExpo America is touted as the largest trade show for the publishing industry in the US. As a book world creature, however, BEA’s fortunes have ebbed with those of the industry.

This week, organizers Reed Exhibitions announced plans for what was called “a more focused” conference, albeit one with global ambitions. “America” is getting dropped from the trade show’s name, and greater attention will go to professional book buyers, including public librarians, museums and gift store owners.

“The goal is to create a show floor that provides publishers with more opportunities to interact with book buyers and to give publishers more time to arrange for book buyers to meet with authors,” reports Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly editorial director.

Disappearing from the program schedule are several adjacent conferences, including Book Bloggers and IDPF events as well as the “uPublish U” conference for independent authors. What is growing – and fast – is BookCon, Reed’s consumer-facing book event, launched in 2014

“Reed Exhibitions said they expect more than 25,000 to attend,” Milliot tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

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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