Welcome to the Bean, which loosely translates to BookExpo America news. If you found your way here, I don't need to explain BookExpo. The Bean will be where I can announce the latest happenings for BEA, and there will be a lot to announce between now and May 28th. The news will be from and for the community BookExpo serves - that includes publishers, booksellers of all stripes, librarians, agents, scouts, authors, media, journalists and anyone who loves the business of books.
Sharing the next chapter in my career as BookExpo America's newly minted Event Director, there is a lot to consider so you know how I got here and where I expect BookExpo to go. Foremost I want to acknowledge and thank Lance. His big shoes which I get to fill are not just the size 13 he wears. When I went for this same job 4 years ago, Lance was the person brought into to run BEA. I gathered up my bruised ego, and knew that I still had a great job in an industry that I loved. I got to know Lance quickly, spending a lot of time with him in his first year. His perspective as a bookseller was exactly what BEA needed. It also needed his sharp mind, his entrepreneurial spirit and his ability to forge partnerships. At some point early in that first year, I clearly saw in Lance why he was chosen to run BEA. Lance has become a good friend, not just because he got my quirky jokes or pegged my habit for using analogies but because he was wonderful to work with and made me better at what I do. I am glad his office remains just down the hall.
To attempt thank everyone I should would be too long and too boring. However, I could not type another word without acknowledging Courtney Muller. It was her faith that got me here and it is her passion for BEA that was infectious inspiration when I started on BEA so many years ago. I can truly say BEA is in my DNA, just ask anyone who remembers me leaving BEA 2003 to be home in time for the birth of my youngest son Luke. My wife still reminds me that Greg Topalian (the Event Director in 2003) did not travel to BEA because his wife was also quite preggers. Both were born on the same day (June 11th) about 5 days after I got home. That was the year of the infamous Bill O'Reilly & Al Franken 'debate'.
Jumping to the present moment....while I have reveled in the task in responding to the hundreds of well wishers that I have enjoyed since I moved into the Event Director position, I recognize BEA serves a mature industry that is being challenged to its core at a time when the margin for error has never been thinner. I look forward with the knowledge I am surrounded by a great staff, that BEA attendees not only rate it very highly in terms of satisfaction, they also rate BEA as very valuable to their business. The biggest challenge will be delivering that same value to BEA exhibitors. The sense of community, ownership, history and passion for BEA is embedded in the fabric and identity of publishing. That provides for an industry that not only wants BEA to be successful, but truly needs BEA to be successful.
BEA 2010 will see seismic shifts in moving to mid week, creating new platforms for authors on the show floor and throughout NYC and much more that will be announced over the next several months.
There are many stories from my years working on BEA that come to mind reflecting here, but the one might be the most representative was my attempt to resolve a dispute between two exhibitors. One being a staid literary publisher from the UK who was offended to be located next a ladder company. The ladder company recognized that they were being looked down upon as an 'unfit' neighbor and proceeded to tweak his next door nemesis by consistently challenging the display rules. After a dozen visits with multiple staff members to resolve who was in the right, my final offer was to lock them in a room with the winner being who ever was able to leave the room standing. With the challenges facing publishing, it feels liket we are all in that room now. I look forward standing tall with an event that truly serves the publishing industry.